The L nonimmigrant visa is for employees of multinational companies with offices in the United States and abroad. This visa allows qualified individuals to be transferred from a foreign office to an American office of the company. This visa is issued for an initial three year period. The visa is also available to individuals of foreign companies coming to the United States for the purpose of opening up an (American)office of the company.
The transferee must have worked abroad for the Overseas Company for a continuous period of one year in the preceding three years. Note that the employee should have been in the United States prior to the application, each day in the United States during the preceding year adds one day to the total time that the alien must have been employed by the overseas company.
The overseas company in an “Executive or Managerial” position or in a position involving “Specialized Knowledge” further must have employed the employee.
The transferee must be coming to the United States to fill one of the three aforementioned positions and provide proof that they are qualified for the position.
There must be a definite relationship between the U.S. and overseas company. Some questions to determine if they qualify are:
Is both the U.S. entity and the company abroad branch offices of the same corporation? Does the U.S. Company own more that 50% of the overseas company or visa versa? Is both the U.S. entity and the company abroad majority (50%+) owned by a third company, individual or group of individuals?
The general rule is that one company that is party to the transfer must have “effective control” of the other company.
The relationship between the companies must be clearly evidenced at time of the application. Providing such documentation as articles of incorporation showing common ownership etc can do this.
As noted above, an L-1 visa is initially issued for a maximum period of three years unless it is a start-up company. This can be renewed, but the total number of years for executives and managers must not exceed seven years and for specialized knowledge personnel, five years.
The company must file a petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the United States. This petition is made on Form I-129 and L-Supplement accompanied by the supporting documentation. This includes a letter from the company explaining that the transferee is being transferred to the United States office, his current duties with the company and responsibilities in the Unites States. Further, documentation must be submitted proving the relationship between the U.S. and overseas entities and transferees qualifications.
Accompanying family members (spouse and children) will be issued an L-2 visa. The family requires a valid passport(s) and proof of relationship with the principle applicant. Should the family not be applying for their visa at the consulate at the same time as the student, they will also require a copy of the principle applicant’s approved L-1 visa, his I-94 card and a recent letter from the employer of the L-1 employee indicating that he is currently employed with the company per the terms of the L-1 visa.
On average, the processing of a L-1 intra company transferee visa petition is taking the Immigration and Naturalization Service under four weeks.