The L-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign company transfer workers that are in managerial or executive position or have specialized knowledge from one of its offices in another country to the United States. It also allows companies anywhere in the world (other than Iran and North Korea), which have a history of existence, pays taxes, and have employees to open a US operation as a Subsidiary or “Sister” Company in order to expand their business and transfer their executives, managers and specialized employees to the US. Spouse and unmarried children under 21-years of age may accompany L-1 visa petitioners.
Bear in mind that once children turn 21-years of age, or get married, they may no longer qualify as a Derivative Beneficiary of the L-1 petitioner, and extensive planning needs to be done ahead of time by your immigration attorney to ensure that child may remain in the United States.
There are two types of L1 visas:
L1-A: This type is suited for owners, managers or executives of a business. Said individuals may qualify for either transferring to an already established U.S. office, or they may qualify in order to come to United States to establish a new U.S. office. L1-A may be valid for up to 7-years, assuming the applicant meets all other qualifications under U.S. immigration laws. Individuals in this category may qualify for U.S. Green Card after one-year of entry, and careful planning must be done with your qualified U.S. Immigration Attorney.
L1-B: This type is utilized for specialized employees, who have essential specialist skills or specialized knowledge, and may be valid for up to 5 years, assuming that employee meets all other requirements under U.S. immigration laws. It is important to note that the employer (existing or newly established U.S. Company) must petition for either L1-A or L1-B visa. If a given applicant has previously worked in the United States under another type of work visa category such as H, the time they have previously spend in the U.S. may be deducted from the maximum allowed work-visa as noted above. If an owner, manager or executive is coming to the U.S. in order to establish new offices, it is important to note that their visa is generally limited to 1-year, but appropriate steps may be taken to extend the duration.
L-1 Blanket Petitions
Large companies which may employ several employees may qualify to apply for a Blanket Petition. Approval of a Blanket Petition will make the visa process easier for future L-1 applicants as they would only need to file a copy of the Blanket Approval along with his / her own supporting documents, which significantly minimizes time and costs, due to the fact that an approved Blanket Petition establishes legitimacy of a company to qualify for the L-1 Visa category.