The United States has a number of visa categories available for foreign nationals who want to work in the United States temporarily.
Companies who have a presence both in the United States and abroad may transfer an experienced manager or executive to the United States, or an employee with specialized knowledge of the business, product or service, to the United States using the L visa category. Spouses and children under twenty-one may follow the principal employee in L-2 status for the same period of stay as the principal employee.
The L visa category does not have a cap or limit on the number of visas available every year, so it is more flexible that other visa categories such as the H-1B visa.
To qualify for an L-1 visa, you must already work for the company
An L-1 visa is an intra-company transferee visa. It requires that you have one full year of prior continuous employment abroad in the same capacity in order to request a transfer to the United States. It also requires that your position in the United States mirror your position abroad with your employer’s US affiliate or subsidiary.
If you have a prior full year of employment abroad with the business and they meet certain requirements, you will have the option of applying for an L-1 visa if a position opens in the United States with their branch, subsidiary or affiliate. You are also eligible to apply for an L-1 visa if your employer is establishing a presence in the United States and they are transferring you to establish their United States operations.
Managers, executives and specialized knowledge employees with a foreign company that is expanding their business to the United States or establishing a new presence in the United States may apply for an L-1 visa.
Validity of L-1 visas
Like other visa categories, the L-1 visa has its specific requirements and limitations. An L-1A visa, for managers and executive employees may be renewed for a maximum of seven (7) years, and an L-1B visa may be renewed for a maximum of five (5) years.
Your employer must sponsor your visa
To enter the United States in L status, your employer must file an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on your behalf to request the visa.
They will need to provide documentation that you have worked with the company for the requisite period of time in the qualifying capacity, and that the company currently has operations in the United States and a branch, subsidiary or affiliate, or that it intends to expand into the U.S. and establish a branch, subsidiary and affiliate, and that it has the financial resources to sustain the US business and its operations.