This category is for managers, executives, or especially knowledgable employees who work at a company in a foreign country that has an associated entity inside the United States to come to the United States and work for the associated entity.
The United States company must be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or some type of joint-venture partner of the non-United States employer.
Application Procedure for Canadian Citizens
Like the TN and B-1, this classification for Canadian citizens under NAFTA can also be applied for at a point of entry and does not require a visa. Canadian citizens may also apply for the L-1 visa status through a Service Center although it is not as quick as applying at a point of entry.
- The worker must have worked for at least one year outside of the United States out of the three previous years preceding application for admission as a manager, executive, or especially knowledgeable employee at the company.
- The L-1 Visa category doesn’t require the worker to have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, unlike the H-1B visa
- Unlike the H-1B category, there is no quota for the L-1 visa
- An individual in L-1 status can work legally in the United States for the L-1 sponsor for up to three years on the first visa (one year if it’s a new office). Thereafter, he/she can apply for extensions of two years at a time. Managers or executives can apply for two extensions (7 years total) and individuals with specialized knowledge can apply for one extension (5 years total).
- The L-1 transferee must be working in the same capacity in the United States as they were working in the foreign country.
- A foreign national under this classification can pursue permanent residence while under this status.
- Unlike the H-1B visa, there is no minimum prevailing wage
- Employee salary can be paid by either the United States company or a foreign company
- Worker must be controlled in some way by the foreign company’s office
Definitions of Managerial Capacity, Executive Capacity, and Specialized Knowledge
- Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
- Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
- Has authority to hire and fire or perform other personnel actions; and
- Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity.
- Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
- Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
- Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
- Receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.
- The regulations define this as specialized knowledge possessed by a worker of the employer’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of the organization’s processes and procedures
- This has been further defined as follows: (a) Possesses knowledge that is valuable to the employer’s competitiveness in the marketplace; (b) Is uniquely qualified to contribute to the United States employer’s knowledge of foreign operating conditions; (c) Has been utilized as a key employee abroad and has been given significant assignments which have enhanced the employer’s productivity, competitiveness, image or financial position; and (d) Possesses knowledge which can be gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.
- In order to meet the L-1 requirements, the foreign company must be considered a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate
- The foreign entity must have some type of ownership, either directly or indirectly, in the United States organization and it must have control over the United States entity
Blanket L-1 Status for Large Multinational Companies
Blanket L-1 status is for large multinational companies to allow them to more easily and efficiently transfer the employees mentioned in the L-1 Intracompany Transferee category to a subsidiary office in the United States.
Instead of submitting individual petitions for each transferee, the company obtains a general approval for transferring employees. This allows the company to streamline the process and eliminate much of the time and paperwork involved to process each individual case.
Key Details of the L-1 Blanket Petition
- Initial L-1 Blanket status is approved for three years, but renewals can be made indefinitely if the company continues to qualify
- The petitioning United States company to which employees will be transferred must be a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of a company outside the United States
- United States company and foreign company must carry on commercial trade or services
- United States company must have been engaged in business for at least one year
- United States company must have a total of at least three branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates
- United States company and related company must show combined annual sales of at least $25 million and a total of 1,000 employees working in the United States
- United States company and related company must show that they have successfully obtained L-1 visas for at least ten of their employees in the last 12 months