The intracompany transfer L1 visa allows a foreign individual who has been working for a company abroad continuously for at least one of the last three years before the application to work for an existing or a new branch/subsidiary of the overseas company established in the United States either as an executive or manager of this company or as a specialized knowledge employee.
Requirements for L1 visa- The U.S. Company
Thus, to qualify as an employer, the U.S. company seeking to petition on behalf of the L1 visa applicant must “have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company”, defined as parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.
Also, the U.S. company must be making –or intending to- “do business as an employer in the United States” AND in a least one foreign country through the company with which it has a “qualifying relationship” as previously defined. This business has to be viable, although the regulation does not require it to be related to international trade.
Finally, the company’s U.S. office does not have to pre-exist the transfer of the L1 visa employee, but in that case the visa application will have to demonstrate that the company has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office.
Requirements for L1 visa- The Transferee
Regarding the foreign L-1 transferee, he or she must be seeking entry in the U.S. for the purpose of taking a managerial, executive, or specialized position. Therefore, the application will have to demonstrate that this future transferee possesses the knowledge and the experience to fulfill such a position within the U.S. company, and that he or she will be actually in an executive and/or managerial position.
The executive position is defined as the capacity to “make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.” The managerial position is defined as a supervision role towards other employees within the U.S. company.
The L1 Visa process may come in on or two steps, depending on the location of the applicant and travel plans.
The employer will have to file a Petition for Non-immigrant worker on behalf of the employee with USCIS which can also include a request for change or extension of status if the foreign individual decides to do so. If the individual is located abroad, then, the employer will request the approval of the petition only with a request of notification of approval to the U.S. Consulate of choice where the individual will apply for the L1 visa.
Duration of Visa
Upon approval, the L1 visa applicant will be granted an authorization of stay valid for a period of up to three years (one for new offices). The foreign national can be granted extensions up to a maximum of seven years in total.
The dependents of the L1 visa holder (spouse and unmarried children under 21) will usually be granted visas of the same length.