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U.S. Immigration Law

L-1 Visas and Green Cards for Multinational Executives and Managers

L1-A Visa AttorneyWhat is an L-1A Visa?

The L-1A visa is designed for executives and managers of multinational companies to enter the U.S. to work temporarily in executive or managerial positions for branch offices, affiliates, subsidiaries or parent companies of the foreign entities.

Criteria for the L-1A Visa

  1. The U.S. and foreign entities must have a qualifying relationship, either as a branch office, subsidiary, affiliate or parent company.
  2. The foreign individual must have been employed abroad continuously by the foreign entity in an executive or managerial capacity requiring for one year within the three years immediately preceding the petition.
  3. A managerial position is defined as one in which the employee primarily: manages an organization, department, subdivision or function; supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees or manages an “essential function”; has the authority to make personnel decisions or to function at a senior level; and has discretion over day-to-day working of the business or function for which he/she has authority.
  4. An executive position is defined as one in which the employee: manages and organization or major component/functions of that organization; has the authority to establish goals and policies; has a wide latitude in discretionary decision making; and is supervised only by higher ranking executives, the board of directors or stockholders of the company.
  5. The U.S. business and foreign entities must be engaged in regular, systematic and continuous provision of goods and/or services. The U.S. entity is considered a new business if it has been doing business for less than one year in the U.S. at the time the L-1A petition is filed.

For how long is the L-1A valid?

The L-1A visa is initially approved for three years. However, for an entity that has been doing business for less than one year in the U.S., the L-1A will initially be approved for only one year. Extensions of the L-1A visa are available in increments of two years, up to a total of five years. A foreign individual who has been in L-1A status for a period of five years may not be readmitted in L-1A status until he or she has resided outside the U.S. for one year.

Who may accompany an L-1A visa holder?

The spouse or unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the L-1A visa holder may enter the United States in L-2 status as dependents. L-2 spouses may apply for employment authorization to be independently employed in the U.S.

How may I obtain an L-1A visa?

The L-1A petition is filed at a USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the employer. If the employee is in the United States and eligible to change nonimmigrant status, the USCIS will issue an approval notice with a new I-94 form. If the employee is unable to change status in the U.S. or is not present in the U.S., he or she must apply for an L-1A visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.

What is an L-1B Visa?

The L-1B visa is designed for employees of multinational companies who possess specialized knowledge of the business’s products, services or procedures, to enter the U.S. to work temporarily in positions which require such specialized knowledge, for branch offices, affiliates, subsidiaries or parent companies of the foreign entities.

Criteria for the L-1B Visa

  1. The U.S. and foreign entities must have a qualifying relationship, either as a branch office, subsidiary, affiliate or parent company.
  2. The foreign individual must have been employed abroad continuously by the foreign entity in a capacity requiring specialized knowledge of its products, services or procedures for one year within the three years immediately preceding the petition.
  3. Specialized knowledge is defined as special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
  4. The U.S. business and foreign entities must be engaged in regular, systematic and continuous provision of goods and/or services. The U.S. entity is considered a new business if it has been doing business for less than one year in the U.S. at the time the L-1B petition is filed.

For how long is the L-1B valid?

The L-1B visa is initially approved for three years. However, for an entity that has been doing business for less than one year in the U.S., the L-1B will initially be approved for only one year. Extensions of the L-1B visa are available in increments of two years, up to a total of five years. A foreign individual who has been in L-1B status for a period of five years may not be readmitted in L-1B status until he or she has resided outside the U.S. for one year.

Who may accompany an L-1B visa holder?

The spouse or unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the L-1B visa holder may enter the United States in L-2 status as dependents. L-2 spouses may apply for employment authorization to be independently employed in the U.S.

How may I obtain an L-1B visa?

The L-1B petition is filed at a USICS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the employer. If the employee is in the United States and eligible to change non-immigrant status, the USCIS will issue an approval notice with a new I-94 form. If the employee is unable to change status in the U.S. or is not present in the U.S., he or she must apply for an L-1B visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.

L Blanket Petition

Large U.S. entities may be eligible to file blanket L-1 petitions which grant continuing approval of L-1 visas for itself and its foreign affiliates, subsidiaries, and branch offices. The following criteria must be met:

  1. The petitioner and qualifying foreign entities must be engaged in commercial trade or services.
  2. The petitioner must have an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more.
  3. The petitioner must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates.
  4. The petitioner and related qualifying organizations must meet one of the following: 1) have obtained approval of ten L-1 petitions during the previous twelve months; 2) have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or 3) have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

The EB1-3 Visa

Multinational businesses may obtain permanent resident status (green cards) for their executives and managers to enter the U.S. to work in executive or managerial capacities for branch offices, affiliates, subsidiaries or parent companies of the foreign entities under the EB1-3 employment based preference category.

Criteria for EB1-3

  1. The U.S. and foreign entities must have a qualifying relationship, either as a branch office, subsidiary, affiliate or parent company.
  2. The foreign individual must have been employed abroad continuously by the foreign entity in a managerial or executive capacity for one year within the three years immediately preceding the petition.
  3. A managerial position is defined as one in which the employee primarily: manages an organization, department, subdivision or function; supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees or manages an “essential function”; has the authority to make personnel decisions or to function at a “senior level”; and, has discretion over the day-to-day working of the business or function for which he/she has authority.
  4. An executive position is defined as one in which the employee: manages an organization or a major component/function of that organization; has the authority to establish goals and policies; has wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and is supervised only by higher-ranking executives, the board of director or stockholders of the company.
  5. The U.S. business and foreign entities must be engaged in regular, systematic and continuous provision of goods and/or services. The U.S. entity must have been doing business for at least one year.

How may I obtain permanent resident status in the EB1-3 category?

The EB1-3 petition is filed by the U.S. business at the appropriate U.S.C.I.S. Service Center. As long as there is a visa number available at the time of filing the petition, the foreign beneficiary may apply concurrently for adjustment of status with his/her spouse and children under 21 years of age. Alternatively, he may file for adjustment of status after the EB1-3 petition is approved, or after approval he may chose to undergo consular processing of his immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.

As with the family-based preference categories, the number of immigrant visas in the employment preference categories are also subject to an annual numeric limitation for nationals of each country. The filing date of the immigrant visa petition establishes the priority date for the application. However, unlike the family-based categories, the employment-based categories are normally current. Click the Department of State Visa Bulletin for the priority dates for preference category petitions and to find the backlog for each preference category.

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