US L1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows employers to transfer senior executives or managers from one branch in a foreign country to another one in the United States. Fortunately, the US L1 visa does not apply to a specific company or some countries. Even small startups can transfer their employees in this way.
In this article, we will discuss details such as the application process of L1 status, fees, duration, processing time, and more.
What is a US L1 visa?
The US L1 visa is a temporary work permit for temporary intracompany transferees. This visa is issued to those who work in managerial positions or have specialized knowledge. To be qualified for this permission, you must:
- Work for a company in a country other than the US for at least one year in the past three years.
- Work as a manager or provide service in an executive capacity for the same employer in a branch in the US or an equivalent organization.
- Your job position in the US should be full-time.
This visa is divided into two categories:
- L1A Visa: This visa is issued to those who work in managerial and executive positions.
- L1B Visa: This visa is issued to those who have specialized knowledge.
There is no annual cap to issue this visa. Therefore everyone who goes through the application process can obtain the L1 visa. To apply for these visas, the employer must first apply for authorization so that qualified employees can work and live in the US.
What is the executive capacity, and what are the duties of a manager?
Executive capacity refers to the employee’s ability to make extensive decisions. Those who have executive authority in a company:
- Are supervised only by shareholders or the board
- Can set rules for the company
- Participate in the critical company decision-making process
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company is an example of an executive post.
Managers are those who monitor the performance of professional employees and manage the organization. These people can manage the essential function of an organization at a high level without the direct supervision of others. The manager must have the decision-making power.
The head of the Marketing Department or the Head of Operations of a company can be considered as a manager.
Who is eligible for an L1A visa?
Under the L1A visa, the company can transfer its qualified executive or manager to a branch of the company in the US. Qualified employees must have the following traits:
- They have the authority to hire and fire employees
- They are responsible for the whole company or at least part of it
- They supervise the work of employees
- They have the power to make decisions in the company
- They are not subject to direct supervision
Who is eligible for an L1B visa?
The L1B visa is issued to people who have specialized knowledge and work in a company. These people are key employees of a company. These people have gained their expertise through years of experience. Without these people, the quality of a company’s services and products will not be the same as before.
Some of the occupations that require specialized knowledge are:
- Surgeons and physicians of a hospital
Therefore, this visa is issued to people whose company can prove that they are necessary for companies’ performance.
What are the requirements of the US L1 visa?
Applicants for the L1 visa must provide the following documents:
- Valid passport: Passport validity must be at least six months from the date of visa expiration.
- Applicant’s Photo
- Online application form and its confirmation page (DS-160 Form)
- Interview confirmation letter
- Form I-129 and copy it
- Form I-797
- Form I-129S and two copies
- Three copies of Form I-797
- Employer’s letter containing your job description and transfer
- Evidence that you have been with the company for at least one year over the past three years
- A letter was written by your previous employers and their contact information
- Contact information of two of your current and former colleagues
- Pictures of your workplace
- Your CV
How to apply for the US L1 visa?
To apply for these visas, the employer must first apply for authorization so that qualified employees can work and live in the US. The steps to apply for the US L1 visa is:
- Get a transfer offer
- Complete Form I-129
- Costs to be paid by the employer
- Fill out the Form DS-160 and pay the application fee
- Set up an interview appointment
- Submit the documents mentioned in the previous section
- Participate in the interview
Getting a transfer offer
Getting a transfer offer is the first step that must be done by the employer. An employer who owns a subsidiary, affiliate or parent company in the US must provide a transfer offer in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position.
Completing Form I-129
Form I-129 is completed in two ways:
- Individual petition: The employer must first apply for an employee transfer. An individual application indicates that an employee has applied for an L1 visa. Form I-129 must be submitted to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If USCIS approves the application, the visa application process will initiate at the US Embassy.
- Blanket petition: A blanket application enables large companies to transfer many employees to the United States with the approval of USCIS.
Organizations that intend to transfer foreign employees to their branches in the US must have the following features:
- The organization must be in the business trade
- The organization must have an office in the US for one or more years.
- The organization in the foreign country and its branches must have received 10 L1 approvals over the past 12 months.
- The organization in the foreign country and the subsidiaries in the US must have annual sales of at least $25 million or have 1,000 employees or more in the US.
In this case, the employer must file a Form I-129S to the USCIS. After approval, Form I-797 is issued to the employer. This form contains all the employees who need to be transferred to the US. The blanket application is valid for up to three years and can be extended as required by the employer.
Completing Form DS-160
Filling out an online application is one of the application process requirements for all US visas, including the L1 visa. This form is available online and contains questions about your purpose for traveling to the US and helps the embassy decide on a visa. After submission of this form, the confirmation page and a number will appear you need to keep. Applicants for the L1 visa must pay $190 as a visa application fee. Depending on your home country, you may have to pay additional costs.
To obtain the L1 visa, you must schedule an interview with the consular officer. In the following, we will explain what questions are asked during the interview and how you should answer them.
What questions are asked in the L1 visa interview?
Participation in an interview is part of the pre-visa process. During the interview, the consular officer will investigate your intention to travel to the US. You have to prove that your transfer is genuine and that you are going to work in this country.
The US L1A visa interview questions are designed to see if you meet the requirements for this visa. Whether your job is in the category of the managerial and executive situation or not. Questions about the L1B visa are also designed so that the embassy official knows why your knowledge is important to the company. During the interview, avoid giving incomplete information and answer questions honestly.
If your interview is going well, you will have to wait for the processing time, and finally, the visa will be stamped in your passport.
How much does it cost to apply for this visa?
Applicants for the L-1 visa must pay $190 as a visa application fee. Keep in mind that you must keep the payment receipt with you and provide it on the day of the interview. Depending on your home country, you may have to pay additional costs.
How much does it take to assess and issue an L1 visa?
The processing time for individual petitions is slightly higher than for blanket petitions. On average, the L1 visa processing time is 3 to 4 months from when the visa application is submitted. Because there is an option for premium processing, employers who pay for it can find out if their application has been approved in 1 to 3 weeks.
How long is this visa valid?
When the employer requests Form I-129, the duration of the contract is determined. If your visa is approved, this duration will specify the length of your stay in the US. As soon as you arrive in the US, you will receive a Form I-94, which states your stay’s duration.
As you approach the time of your visa expiration, the employer can petition to extend the visa. If the renewal is approved, you can stay in the US for more time.
An L1A visa holder can work in the US for up to 7 years, while an L1B visa holder can work for up to 5 years. Once this period is over, you can change the status of your visa to obtain permanent residency.
How to extend the L1 visa?
If visa renewal requirements are met, the USCIS can extend the L-1A visa status for another two years. This organization can provide two extensions for this visa, so you can stay and work in the US for another four years. So, you can stay in the US for up to 7 years under an L-1A visa; after that, you must return to your home country.
If the holders of the L1B visa prove their professionalism and comply with the rules of contract and employment, their employer can apply for an extension of their visa. This extension can only be done for a period of two years. Therefore, holders of an L1B visa will eventually stay and work in the US for up to five years.
How to change the L1 visa to Green Card?
The L1 visa, like the H1B visa, is a dual intent visa. Holders of L1 visas do not need to prove that they will return to their home country after their contract expires. Therefore, they are allowed to apply directly for a Green Card. To apply for a Green Card, you must first apply for Form I-40. Therefore, if applicants for the L1 visa state that they intend to reside permanently in the US, there will be no disruption to their visa application process.
Can L1 visa holders bring their dependents to the US?
Holders of the US L1 visa can bring family members to the US. Family members include:
- Unmarried child under 21 years of age
These people must apply for an L2 visa. The L2 visa holders are allowed to:
- Have a driver’s license
- Open a bank account
- Enroll in academic courses
- Work by getting the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Let’s sum up…
In this article, we discussed the L1 visa status requirements, application process, costs, processing time, and extension procedure. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.