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In this new blog we will explain in great detail the requirements for the L-1A visa and other important elements of this visa for the United States. 

Processing a visa does not require the participation of a lawyer. However, hiring one will highly reduce the chances of making any mistakes in the process. Our immigration lawyers in New Jersey at Curbelo Law are experts on these issues.

Requirements To Obtain The L-1A Visa In The United States In 2022

The requirements for the L-1A visa in the United States are divided into two categories: employers and employees. We will explain these requirements below.

how to get l visas

Employers

  • You must have an eligible relationship with a foreign company, whether it is a parent company, subsidiary, affiliate or branch, collectively referred to as eligible companies.
  • Currently doing business or will do business in the future as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country. The latter can be done directly or through an eligible organization during the L-1A visa beneficiary’s stay in the US.
    • The business is not required to be engaged in international trade, but it must be a viable business.

Additionally, if the US employer transfers the foreign employee for the purpose of establishing a new office, it must meet the following criteria:

  • New US office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of petition approval.
  • Employer must ensure that they have enough physical space to create a new office.
  • Employee has been hired as a manager or executive for a full year in the 3 years prior to the filing of the L-1A visa.

Employees

Employees must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the L-1A visa:

  • Have been working for an eligible organization abroad for one continuous year and within the 3 years prior to your admission to the US.
  • Have entered the US with the intent to serve in the executive or managerial capacity of a branch of the same employer or for one of its eligible organizations.

What Is The L-1A Visa In The USA?

The L-1A visa is a US visa that allows US employers to transfer an executive or manager from one of their affiliated offices abroad to one of their affiliated offices in the United States.

  • The L-1A visa also allows a foreign company that does not already have an affiliated office in the US to send an executive or manager to the country to create a new office.
  • The employer must file a petition with USCIS on behalf of the employee in order for the employee to obtain the visa.
types of american visas

If you want to know more about the different types of American visas, check our respective article where we explain each of these documents in depth. 

L-1A Visa Terminology

To understand the requirements for the L-1A visa, it is also essential to know the terminology of this visa. These are:

  • Doing business: It is the systematic, regular and continuous supply of goods and/or services carried out by an eligible organization.
  • Managerial capacity: It is the employee’s ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to be able to manage the organization, department, subdivision, composition or function of the organization.
    • It can also refer to the employee’s ability to manage essential functions of the organization at a high level without any supervision.
  • Executive capacity: It is the employee’s ability to make wide-ranging decisions without much supervision.

How To Obtain An L-1A Visa?

The application process for an L-1A visa is as follows:

  1. A US employer must complete and file with USCIS Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Said form involves a payment for the filing fee. 
  2. Print the receipt number of the I-129 form once it is approved.
  3. The alien must complete Form DS-160 online to apply for the L-1A visa.
  4. Schedule an appointment for the visa interview.
  5. Attend the visa interview with all the required documents.

Application For General Petitions

Some organizations can file a blanket petition. To do so, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Do business or business services in conjunction with each of the qualified organizations.
  • Have an office in the US that has been doing business for a year or more.
  • Have three or more national and foreign branches, affiliates or subsidiaries.
  • Together with the qualified organizations, collectively, they meet one of the following criteria by having:
    • A US workforce of at least 1,000 employees.
    • Obtained at least 10 L-1A visa approvals during the 12-month period.
    • Subsidiaries or affiliates in the US that have combined annual sales of at least $25 million.

Approval of a blanket petition does not guarantee that the employee will be granted the L-1A visa. However, it provides the employer with greater flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the US without notice without filing an individual petition.

When Is A Blanket Petition Required?

In most cases, once a blanket petition is approved, the employer only needs to complete Form I-129S, Application for Nonimmigrant Visa Based on Blanket Petition L, and send it to their employee.

Such form must be accompanied by a Notice of General Petition Approval and other evidence.

Benefits Of The L-1A Visa 

  • Open a new office in the US. Multinational companies that do not currently have an office in the US can use the L-1A visa to send an employee to create one.
  • General request. Companies that meet the necessary criteria may file a single petition for multiple employees. 
  • No requirement to apply for employment status. The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is a certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) that specifies the shortage of qualified personnel in the US.
    • Employers applying for the L-1A visa to transfer employees are not required to obtain the LCA.

Have you ever heard of PERM labor certification in the US? We invite you to read our article on PERM labor certification step by step.

transfer of executives with l-1a visa

Documents Needed To Apply For The L-1A Visa

The L-1A visa application process involves a series of documents that you are advised to have on hand:

Documents Supporting The Employee’s Petition:

  • Visa interview appointment letter.
  • Copy of the DS-160 form.
  • DS-160 form application confirmation page.
  • Receipt of visa application fee.
  • Valid passport with at least 6 months before expiration.
  • USCIS Form I-797 Approval Notice .
  • Copy of the I-129 petition sent to USCIS.
  • Most recent resume.
  • Two most recent color photographs showing the face.
  • Education certificates.
  • Pay States.
  • Work description.
  • Income tax records.
  • Organizational charts that show where your place will be in the organization.
  • Letter from the employer to the consulate requesting the L-1A visa.
  • Employment verification letter from the foreign company.

Documents For The Foreign Company

  • Stock certificates.
  • Audited accounts.
  • Articles of incorporation.
  • Business license.
  • Business transaction documents. For example, contracts or letters of credit.
  • Company letterhead with company logo, address and name.
  • Organizational chart, including the total number of employees and job titles.
  • Detailed statement from authorized representative explaining ownership and control of the organization.

Company Documents In The United States

  • Lease of business location.
  • Bank statement or proof of initial investment.
  • Corporate tax return (if applicable).
  • Organizational chart where the total number of employees and job positions are included.
  • Corporate by-laws.
  • Business license.
  • Financial statements of the business.
  • Stock certificates.
  • Description of the company’s business and business plan in detail.
  • Business promotional materials.

How Long Does It Take To Obtain The L-1A Visa?

Currently the time it takes to obtain an L-1A visa is usually between 6 and 12 months. This time includes the processing of the I-129 petition which can take up to 6 months. 

However, a Form I-907, Application for Premium Processing can be filed to expedite the wait time.

documents to obtain the l-1a visa in the united states

How Long Can I Stay In The United States On An L-1A Visa?

The length of stay in the United States with the L-1A visa varies depending on the purpose of the visa:

  • Establish a new office: The L-1A visa grants a maximum initial stay of one year.
  • Qualified Employees: All other qualified employees will have a maximum initial stay of 3 years. 

This visa allows requests for extension of stay in increments of up to 2 additional years or until the employee has reached the maximum limit of 7 years.

To apply for an extension of stay, a Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status, must be filed with USCIS .

How Much Does The L-1A Visa Cost?

There are several fees to pay to get an L-1A visa. These costs are:

  • Filing fee: $460. 
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention Fee: $500.
  • DS-160 form filing fee: $190.
  • Premium processing fee (optional): $2,500.
  • Form I-539 (optional): $370.

Can Family Members Of The L-1A Visa Holder Accompany Him?

Employees transferring to US offices may be accompanied or followed by their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. Such companions may apply for L-2 classification.

The companions of the holders must take into account the following:

  • The L-2 classification grants the same length of stay as the L-1A visa holder.
  • Companions can apply for an extension of stay or change of status through the I-539 petition. The submission of the request can be collective.
  • Spouses of L-1A visa holders with valid L-2S status are considered work authorized based on their status. To do this, they must submit:
    • Form I-94, current arrival/departure record L-2S or L-2.
    • A current or expired  Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

If you are a spouse of the L-2A holder and you would like to work in the US, we invite you to consult with our firm so that you know in detail everything that is required for this.

What Is The Difference Between The L-1A Visa And The L-1B Visa?

The main difference between these visas is that the L-1A visa is only for managers and executives who are in companies outside the US, while the L-1B visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge.

Also, the L-1A visa is assigned up to 7 years maximum, while the L-1B visa is up to 5 years.

This blog is focused on explaining the requirements for the L-1A visa and everything necessary for its process. If you want to know about the L-1B visa, we invite you to read our article on the L-1B visa process.

Advantages Of The L-1A Visa

  • Fewer requirements for eligibility. The L-1A visa only requires the alien to be a manager or executive, unlike other visas. For example: 
    1. Type O visa applicants must demonstrate extraordinary ability.
    2. The H-1B visa requires its candidates to have specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree.
    3. The TN visa is only available to Canadian and Mexican citizens.
  • It does not have a limit on emission. Unlike the H-1B or EB-1 visa, there is no annual limit per fiscal year for the L-1A visa.
  • Spouses may have a work permit. Thanks to the L-1A visa, the holder’s spouses will be able to obtain a work permit in the US.
  • No educational requirements. The L-1A visa does not require the beneficiary to have a degree to qualify. This is a great advantage for all those who do not have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Dual intent visa. L-1A visa beneficiaries can apply for permanent residence without jeopardizing the current status of their visa. This is different from some employment-based visas, such as the H-1B or the TN visa.

Can I Apply For The Green Card Through An L-1A Visa?

If the foreigner has an L-1A visa, they may be able to get the Green Card under the EB-1C category for multinational executives or managers. 

For this category, the employer must file Form I-140, Petition for a Alien Worker. At the same time as filing, the alien must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

If you want to know more about the adjustment of status in the United States or the EB-1 visa , in our blog you can find the respective articles on these immigration issues.

How Can The Law Firm Of Curbelo Law Help you with the l-1A visa requirements?

As in many scenarios involving immigration law, these processes can be complex. Therefore, it pays to have an expert by your side. The Curbelo Law firm will help you avoid visa application delays or denials.

At Curbelo Law we can help you develop an optimal strategy to apply for and complete all the requirements for the L-1A visa without any inconvenience. In addition, we can also help you in case you need help with your current status.

If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can call, email, or schedule an appointment at our office located in Ridgewood, New Jersey.