L-1 Intracompany Transfers
This classification provides companies operating in the US the opportunity to transfer key personnel to the US from their foreign parents, subsidiaries, branches or affiliates. There is no annual quota of L non-immigrants that may be admitted to the US. The L-1a classification is for managers and executives and the L-1b visa is for employees. To qualify for an L visa, the foreigner must have worked outside the US for a parent, subsidiary or affiliate of a US company on a full time basis for one continuous year out of the last three years. Any continuous qualifying employment period abroad will be reduced by any time spent in the US. The principal purpose of the L visa is to work for the US employer. As long as this remains true, the alien may divide work between the US and abroad, engage in studies, etc. The L classification is intended for employees who manage or direct and not for those who produce a company's work product, even in cases where a single employee performs both functions. A manager must supervise other supervisory, professional or managerial employees. S/he must direct the management and not be involved in nonmanagerial aspects of the business. If the L beneficiary is the sole employee of the US employer and as such is solely responsible for or involved in production, s/he does not qualify as an executive or manager. The L classification is employer-specific, which means that the L nonimmigrant is not permitted to work for any employer in the US other than the one for which the Immigration Service approved the petition.
The foreign employer must continue to do business abroad while the approved US employer employs the L nonimmigrant. If the foreign parent company, subsidiary or branch has only one employee and s/he seeks to transfer to the US under the L visa, the foreign business would cease to be a viable legal entity since it would no longer be in operation and therefore, the L visa would not be possible. A subsidiary, branch or affiliate that has been in business in the US for less than one year may petition for intracompany transferees but the L employees coming to work for such new offices will be admitted initially for a maximum of one year.
Petitioning companies may also file a "blanket" L petition for unnamed intracompany transferees. There are specific characteristics required for a blanket petition including that the petitioner has a US office that has been doing business for at least six months, the petitioner has at least three domestic and foreign branches, affiliates or subsidiaries, and the petitioner has obtained approval in the preceding year for at least 10 L beneficiaries OR it has US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least 25 million or a US workforce of at least 1000 employees.
Spouses and minor children may come with the primary beneficiary as an L-2. They can work in this category, they are eligible to study and they can apply for a change of status to any other category for which they may qualify. The initial admission is for three years maximum that is extendible twice for periods of two years. A blanket L beneficiary has an initial admission for three years maximum, which may be extended indefinitely.