Filing the L-1 Visa Application:
It would help to first emphasize that proper documentation is very essential for the success of an L-1 visa petition. The petition (application) must be filed with the regional INS Service Center having jurisdiction over the location where the transferred employee will work. The petition should be filed with:
- Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the US and the foreign employer which addresses ownership and control, such as an annual report, copies of articles of incorporation, financial statements, and / or stock certificates;
- A letter from the transferring employee’s foreign employer detailing his or her dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary and demonstrating that the employee worked for the employer abroad for at least one continuous year within the three-year period before the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge; and
- A detailed description of the proposed job duties and qualifications and evidence the proposed employment is in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge.
If the employee is coming to the US as a manager or executive (L-1A) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:
- Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
- The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer and the qualifying position; and
- The intended US operations will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition. This must be supported by information regarding:
- the proposed nature of the US office (size and scope, organizational structure, and financial goals),
- financial information about the foreign entity (the size of the US investment and the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the US), and
- the organizational structure of the foreign entity.
If the employee is coming to the US in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:
- Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
- The business entity in the US is or will be a qualifying organization
- The petitioner has the financial ability to compensate the beneficiary and to begin doing business in the US.
also has an ownership interest in the company, since the INS may not believe the owner intends to ever leave the US. The US employer will need to show here that the firm’s need for the transferee is not indefinite and that the transferee’s foreign business interests are a strong lure for the person to return upon the expiration of the transferee’s stay in the US.
Upon approval of the application by the INS Service Center, the employee must apply at the US Consulate for the visa. The Consulate normally approves the application unless it believes the INS has been defrauded or the applicant has withheld some important information from the INS, the knowledge of which would have prevented approval of the application.
Validity and Extension of L-1 Visa:
Persons coming to open up a new office in the US will initially be granted only a one-year stay in the US. If the company wants to have the L-1 visa extended beyond the initial year, it will have to demonstrate at the time of extension that it has proceeded with the plans outlined in the initial petition. If the INS is satisfied that the visa merits an extension, the visa will be extended for a period of three years. Thereafter, the transferred employee may seek one final extension of another three years.
Executives and managers of established businesses are initially granted an L-1 visa for three years with one possible extension for another three years. Specialized knowledge employees may stay in the US for a maximum of five years.
Blanket L Petition
Employers who regularly file L petitions may wish to consider filing for a blanket L petition in order to obtain continuing approval for its employees. Companies that qualify can receive a “blanket approval” for all of their workers rather than having to apply to INS individually for each employee. This simplifies the process of approving and admitting additional individual L-1A and L-1B workers.
The blanket L petition must be filed by a US employer who will be the single representative between INS and the qualifying organizations and must be filed with copies of evidence that the:
- Petitioner and its branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates are engaged in commercial trade or services;
- Petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
- Petitioner has 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates;
- Petitioner and its qualifying organizations have obtained approved petitions for at least ten L-1 professionals during the previous year or have US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least 25 million dollars, or have a US work force of at least 1,000 employees.
After approval of a blanket petition, the petitioner may file for individual employees to enter as L-1 professionals under the blanket petition. If the employee is outside the US, the employee submits a completed Form I-129S and a copy of the Form I-797 (INS approval notice) to the Consulate for obtaining the visa. If the alien is already in the US, the employer may file an I-129 to request a change of status, based on this blanket petition. An I-129 petition for a change of status must be filed with:
- A copy of the approval notice for the blanket petition;
- A letter from the employee’s foreign employer detailing the employee’s dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary for the 3 previous years; and
- If the employee is a specialized knowledge professional, a copy of a US degree, a foreign degree equivalent to a US degree, or evidence establishing that the combination of the beneficiary’s education and experience is equivalent to a US degree.
Extension of blanket L Petitions
Blanket L petitions can be extended by filing the prescribed forms with the INS. The extension petition must be filed with:
- A copy of the previous approval notice for the blanket petition; and
- A summary of the employment of L-1 employees admitted under the blanket petition during the preceding three years, listing, for each employee:
- His or her name;
- Position(s) held during the period;
- Employing entity;
- Date of initial L-1 admission under the blanket;
- Date of final departure, if the employee has been transferred outside the United States, and;
- Documentation of any changes in approved relationships and additional qualifying relationships.
Dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may pursue academic studies in the US while remaining in L-2 status. However, dependents may not be employed under the L-2 classification.