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The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa and is a popular option for multinational firms. It is designed for international companies to transfer executives or managers, or certain classes of employee, to a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office in the US for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a US company’s parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office outside of the US for at least one year during the last three years.

The L-1 visa offers several advantages over other types of work visas.  There isn’t any limit on the number of L-1 visas to be issued each year. In addition, holders of L-1 visa may petition for permanent residency.  Some L-1 executives and managers may apply for a green card without the need of labor certification.

L-1 visa is usually issued for a three-year period and is renewable and extendable. Executives and managers who are holding L-1A visas may remain in the U.S. for up to seven years.  Employees with specialized knowledge with L-1B status may stay in the U.S. for up to five years.

L-2 status may be granted to spouses and unmarried children of L-1 workers. The spouses and children may also get work permission in the US. Dependents of L-1 workers may study at U.S. schools and universities.

Requirements and Qualifications:


Alien employee’s eligibility

In order to qualify for the L-1 visa, the alien employee to be transferred has to satisfy the following requirements:

1.        The employee must have worked for at least one year for the US company’s parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office outside of the US during the three years prior to the application for L-1 visa. The time that the employee worked in the US company will not count for the one year requirement.

2.        The employee must come to the US to work in executive or managerial position, or to work in position with specialized knowledge. An executive is who directs the management of the company or a major part or function of the company, and has powder over decision-making process. A manager is who directs and controls the day-to-day operation of company or a department, or supervises an important function of the company. Specialized knowledge employee is who has special knowledge of the company’s products or special knowledge of the processes or procedures of the company.

3.        The employee must have the intent of departure the US after this employment. However, like H-1b visa, dual intent is allowed for L-1 visa. Thus, L-1 holders may apply permanent residency.

Company’s eligibility

To apply for an L-1 visa successfully, qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company must exists. Qualifying relationship means that the foreign company must be a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the US company, which is going to hire the employee.

Application Process

The U.S. company should file form I-129 for an L-1 petition with the USCIS ff the L-1 employee is not in the United States at this time of filing. Upon approval, the L-1 visa applicant should file forms DS-156 and DS-157 to apply for L-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate office.

The U.S. company should file form I-129 for an L-1 petition with the USCIS to change the applicant’s non-immigrant status to L-1 status. The L-1 applicant’s spouse and children should use form I-539 to apply for L-2 status.

If the applicant is already in the United States with L-1 status and wish to extend the period of stay, the U.S. employer should file form I-129 to apply for L-1 extension. Likewise, the L-1 holder’s spouse and children should file form I-539 to apply for L-2 status extension.



美国执业大律师:胡德翰 律师(John D. Hu, Esq.)美国胡德翰律师楼              


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