The U.S. L 1 Visa allows a U.S. company to transfer an executive or manager from a foreign office to a U.S. office for three years. It also allows a foreign company to send an executive or manager to the U.S. for one year for the purpose of setting up a new office. This is not a permanent residence (green card) program. The candidate can live and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis.
L 1 General Requirements: Employer
To qualify to use the L 1 visa, an employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate); and
- Currently be, or to be in future, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country directly or through a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate for the duration of the candidate’s stay in the U.S. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
L 1 General Requirements: Candidate
To qualify, the candidate must:
- Have been working for the employer or a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate abroad for one continuous year within the last three years; and
- Be seeking to enter the U.S. to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.
For foreign employers seeking to send an executive or manager to establish a new office in the U.S., the employer must also show:
- Physical premises have been secured;
- The executive or manager has worked for one continuous year in the three years; and
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of approval.
Period of Stay
Candidates in the U.S. to establish a new office are allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other candidates are allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. Both categories can apply for extensions in two-year increments, to a maximum of seven years.
The following family members are included:
- Unmarried children under age 21
Family members receive an L 2 visa, generally for the same period as the main candidate. Spouses may apply for authorization to work.
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