Understanding the L-1A Visa
The L-1A visa is an intracompany nonimmigrant classification that allows a foreign company to transfer qualified executives and managers to their U.S. affiliate, parent, subsidiary or branch.
The L-1A visa application process initially requires the U.S. entity to submit a comprehensive petition detailing the transfer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Essentially, this visa classification facilitates multinational companies in transferring foreign executives and managers to their U.S.-based entities
There are a number of considerations that must be taken into account when analyzing the possibility of an L-1A:
- The U.S. employer must have an established, qualifying, and pre-existing relationship with a foreign company. The U.S. employer must a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate of the foreign employer.
- The foreign entity and U.S. entity must conduct business during the entire time period associated with the transfer of the manager or executive.
- For each qualifying employee, there must be a separate L-1A petition, unless there is a blanket L-1A petition being submitted for approval.
Additionally, the prospective L-1A executive/manager must meet certain qualifications:
- S/he must have been employed by the qualifying foreign company for at least one year within the previous three years prior to being admitted to the U.S.
- S/he must be entering the U.S. as an executive or manager for a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate of the foreign employer.
An executive is an employee who has wide-ranging and far-reaching decision making powers with little to no supervision.
Executives establish policies and goals; manage the organization or a major function or component; have discretionary decision making ability; and only receive general supervision or direction from higher level executives. And a manager is generally regarded as an employee who supervises and controls the work and labor of other employees, and/or manages a key component or division of an organization.
Managers control and supervise the work of other professional, supervisory, or managerial employees, or manage an essential function, department or subdivision; manage the organization, department, subdivision, function or component; have discretion over day-to-day operations and activities; and, if there are direct reports, have the ability to hire, fire and/or recommend personnel actions for the direct reports, or, if there are no direct reports, functions at a senior level within the hierarchy or as to function managed.
Length of L-1A classification
If the office in the U.S. is a new office, the L-1A will initially be approved for only 1 year. Renewals thereafter can be requested in 2-year increments for a total period of 7 years. Conversely, foreign employees transferring to a pre-established U.S. affiliated are allowed an initial three-year stay.
For either category of foreign employee, extensions are granted in increments of 2-years up to a maximum limit of seven years.
Dependents and Spouses
An L-1A employee is permitted to bring their spouse along at the time of transfer, or at a later date. Unmarried dependents under the age of 21 are also allowed to accompany the L-1A employee. These family members will be classified under the L-2 non-immigrant status, and if approved, are allowed the identical length of stay as the L-1A employee.
For spouses who intend to apply for separate employment, they must complete a Form I-765, which is a petition for work authorization. Once approved, the L-2 spouse may work in the U.S. without restriction.
For help with the L-1A Visa, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online.
Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2015 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.