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Member of State Bar of Texas
Member of American Trial Lawyers' Association
Member of American Immigration Lawyers Association
Member of American Society of International Law
Member of Bar of United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas


L-1 Intra-company Transferee

The smooth transfer of your company's key employees to the United States is always of great concern. Most executive, Managers and employees with specialized knowledge can come to work in the United States using the L-1 intra-company transferee visa. An introduction to that visa which includes changes made by the Reform Act of 2004 is presented here. Be sure to consult with an attorney experienced in immigration matters to see if this visa is appropriate for your situation.

  • Which Companies Qualify to Transfer Employees to the United States?

  • Which Employees Qualify as L-1 Intra-company Transferees?

  • How Long Can L-1 Employees Remain in the United States?

  • Restrictions on Offsite Work

  • How Does the Company Get an L-1 Visa for its Employees?

  • Green Card Advantages

    Which Companies Qualify to Transfer Employees to the United States?

    Only those companies which exactly meet the Immigration Service's definitions of a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate qualify to petition for an L-1 intra-company transferee visa. These definitions are very precise and require an analysis of both the foreign and U.S. ownership of the companies. Both the foreign and U.S. companies must be doing business for the entire time that the L-1 employee is working in the United States.

    There are provisions to allow a new office to open in the United States provided that evidence is submitted to the Immigration Service to prove that the new office has a suitable place to do business, a qualifying business structure exists, and that the employer has the ability to pay the employee and to begin doing business in the United States.

    Each case must be well documented with evidence to prove all of the legal criteria.

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    Which Employees Qualify as L-1 Intra-company Transferees?

    Intra-company transferees are executives, managers and employees with specialized knowledge. The definition of manager includes an employee who manages an essential function of the business within a qualifying organization. Specialized knowledge employees must have special knowledge of the organization's product, service, research, equipment, management, or other interests, and its application in international markets, or an advanced knowledge or expertise in the organization's process and procedures. Classifying the employee in the right category is important, particularly if the company might later want to sponsor the employee for permanent residence. The intra-company transferee petition always should be structured to allow the easiest transition to permanent resident status.

    A key qualification for all employees is continuous employment abroad by a qualifying foreign employer for one year within three years proceeding the time of the employee's application for admission into the United States. One year of employment must be full-time. Two years of half-time employment cannot aggregate to meet the full-time requirement. The exception is when the employees has worked part-time for several affiliates of the same employer, the total time equaling full-time employment within the employer's organization.

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    How Long Can L-1 Employees Remain in the United States?

    The L-1 is a temporary visa with specific Limitations on periods of stay in the United States.

  • If the employee is qualified as a manager or executive, he or she may remain in the United States for up to seven years.

  • If the employee is classified in the specialized knowledge category, he or she may stay up to five years.

  • An exception to these limits exists where the employment in the United States is seasonal, intermittent or an aggregate of six months or less a year.

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    Restrictions on Offsite Work

    Changes were put into place in 2005 that restrict offsite work by L1B employees. The employer cannot place the L1B at a worksite other than the petitioning employer's physical location in certain circumstances. Placement of an L1B working primarily at a worksite other than the petitioner's premises is not allowed where either (a) the work is primarily controlled and supervised by an employer other than the petitioner or (b) the work performed is essentially labor-for-hire, rather than related to specialized knowledge pertaining to the petitioning employer.

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    How Does the Company Get an L-1 Visa for its Employees?

    A petition for an L-1 visa must be filed by the company with the Immigration Regional Service Center having jurisdiction over the place of intended employment. Except for a company which is opening a new office in the United States, the initial petition may be granted for a three-year period and renewed in two-year increments up to the maximum permitted stay. New offices are limited to an initial twelve-month period with extensions depending on the business performance of the new office. Once the petition is approved, the employee may apply for an L-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. If the employee is in the United States and maintaining some other legal status, he or she may apply for a change of status in the United States.

    Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old of intra-company transferees may be granted L-2 visas. A spouse holding L-2 visa may apply for working permit to work in the United States. However, a child holding L-2 visa is not permitted to work in the United States.

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    Green Card Advantages

    L1As in the executive / managerial category generally are eligible, under employment-based first preference, to obtain Permanent Residency on an expedited basis. The cases are significantly faster, as there is no labor certification required. The labor certification is the first, and often most difficult, stage in the majority of employment-based permanent residence cases.

    Additionally, the L-1 category (whether L1A or L1B), as with the H1B category, enjoys the benefit of "dual intent," meaning that individuals can apply for Permanent Residence without jeopardizing their L-1 status.

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  • This site is intended to familiarize clients with our services and to provide background information for the firm. In addition, we have included detailed information on various legal topics such as labor certifications, H1B temporary worker Visas, etc. There are also links to other sites with legal resources, industry news, and contact information for James Shu and Associates.

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