L1A/L1B Visa Interview prepration

L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

L1 Visa

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.  The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee.

General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee for Applying L1 Visa

To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade. 

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

To qualify, the named employee must also:

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. 

Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization.  It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. 

New Offices setup eligible for L1Visa

For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:

  • The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
  • The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
  • The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

How Long L1 Visa holder maximum allowed to stay in US?

Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year.  All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years.  For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.

Can Family of L-1 holder allowed to Job?

The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by their spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Spouses and children may seek admission in the L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. 

If these family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply collectively, with fee, on an Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

Spouses of L-1 workers in valid L-2 status are considered employment authorized incident to status.   Such spouses are not required to request employment authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, but may still file Form I-765, with fee, in order to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766 EAD).  Form I-766 EAD can be presented to employers as evidence of both identity and employment authorization acceptable under List A of the Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9).   DHS is taking steps to modify Forms I-94 evidencing nonimmigrant status issued to L dependents so that L dependent spouses can be distinguished from L dependent children on the face of the document. Once these changes are made, the revised Form I-94 containing a notation indicating that the bearer is an L dependent spouse will be acceptable as evidence of employment authorization under List C of Form I-9.

Certain L-2 dependent spouses qualify for the automatic extension of their existing Form I-766 EADs if they meet certain conditions:

  • They timely filed a renewal Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on the same L-2 nonimmigrant status;
  • They have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as an L-2 nonimmigrant.

The automatic EAD extension will continue until whichever comes first:

  • The end date on the dependent spouse’s Form I-94 showing valid L-2 nonimmigrant status, as applicable;
  • The date we approve or deny their application to renew the EAD; or
  • 180 days from the “Card Expires” date on the front of the EAD.

Eligible L-2 dependent spouses may present the following evidence of the automatic EAD extension to employers for purposes of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification:

  • Form I-94 indicating the unexpired E-1 nonimmigrant status;
  • Form I-797C for a timely-filed EAD renewal application (Form I-765) stating “Class requested” as “(a)(18)”; and
  • The expired EAD issued under the same category, Category A18.

What is mean by Blanket Petitions?

Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition.  Eligibility for blanket L certification may be established if:

  • The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
  • The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
    • Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;  
    • Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
    • Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1A classification.  It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS. 

Where an L-1 visa is required

In most cases, once the blanket petition has been approved, the employer need only complete Form, I-129S,Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and send it to the employee along with a copy of the blanket petition Approval Notice and other required evidence, so that the employee may present it to a consular officer in connection with an application for an L-1 visa. 

Canadians with an approved blanket petition seeking L-1 classification

Canadian citizens, who are exempt from the L-1 visa requirement, may present the completed Form I-129S and supporting documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at certain ports-of-entry on the United States-Canada land border or at a United States pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station in Canada, in connection with an application for admission to the United States in L-1 status.  

Please refer to CBP’s website for additional information and/or requirements for applying for admission into the United States. 

Optional filing of Form I-129S with USCIS

If the prospective L-1 employee is visa-exempt, the employer may file the Form I-129S and supporting documentation with the USCIS service center that approved the blanket petition, instead of submitting the form and supporting documentation directly with CBP.

What is the L1B visa?

The L1 nonimmigrant classification, otherwise known as the intra-company transfer visa, enables a multinational employer to transfer a professional employee to an affiliated office in the United States.

The L1B visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge within their organisation, while the L1A category visa is for managers and executives.

The L1B visa will enable that employee to work for a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the same company in the US.

The L1B visa classification also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated US office, to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help set one up.

What are L1B visa requirements?

To be eligible for an L1B visa the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • The company or organization that you work for must have a qualifying relationship with a parent company, branch, affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. Here, the US and non-US firm must have common majority ownership or common control by the same persons or entities.
  • The US employer must meet the obligations of a qualifying organisation, namely the US employer must currently be doing business in the US or will be, and in at least one other country, for the duration of your stay as an L1B visa holder.
  • You must have worked for the non-US company or organization for at least one continuous year in the past 3 years prior to the filing of the L1B visa petition.
  • You must have maintained a position within the non-US company or organization that involved specialized knowledge about its products, procedures or methods.
  • You must be coming to the US to continue to render services requiring that specialized knowledge, where you must have an offer to work in a similar capacity for a branch of the same company, organization or employer.

If you are being transferred to help establish a brand new affiliated US office, the company or organization that you work for must also demonstrate that premises to house the new office have been secured, and that it has the financial ability to both commence doing business in the US and to remunerate you.

What is L1B ‘specialized knowledge’?

The L1B visa is only intended for key personnel within a company or organisation, namely, those with ‘specialized knowledge’ relating to the organisation’s interests.

This is defined under the Code of Federal Regulations 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.”

As an L1B applicant, you must therefore possess extraordinary and inimitable knowledge or expertise over the organization’s products, services and/or its management, typically gained through years of experience, making you vital to the overall functioning and competitiveness of the business.

Knowledge that is widely held or related to common practices or techniques, and is readily available in the US job market, will not be regarded as ‘specialized’ for the purposes of the L1B visa classification.

How to apply for an L1B visa?

The US employer, which functions as the L1B visa petitioner, must first file Form I-129, a petition for a nonimmigrant worker, on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition will need to be approved by USCIS before you can apply for your L1B visa.

The petition must also be accompanied by the L-classification supplement to this form, together with the relevant fee.

Your US employer can file an individual petition, or a blanket petition using Form I-129S. A blanket petition can be used where several key personnel with specialized knowledge have been identified for transfer to the US, or it is believed that additional key personnel may be needed in the US in the next 3 years.

When USCIS approve the individual or blanket petition, the US employer gets a Form I-797 as proof.

You will then be required to submit Form DS-160, an online form that is submitted to the Department of State. Having paid an additional fee, you must schedule an interview appointment with a US Embassy or Consulate.

Consular officers will use the information entered on the DS-160 to process your visa application and, together with a personal interview, determine your eligibility for an L1B visa.

At interview, you will be required to submit various documents in support of your L1B visa application, including but not limited to:

  • Forms I-129 & I-797
  • A letter from your U.S employer confirming your transfer and job description
  • Proof that you have worked within that company or organisation for at least one year in the past 3 years.
  • Proof of your specialized knowledge.

At the conclusion of your interview, the interviewing officer should inform you whether the L1B visa application has been approved, denied, or if further documentation is required.

If your visa application is approved and you are issued an L1B visa, your passport will be returned to you via courier service to the visa collection or passport location specified when making your visa interview appointment.

How long does an L1B visa application take?

Form I-129 should be filed by your prospective US employer at least 45 days before your intended start date, although it cannot be filed more than 6 months before your employment begins.

Once your petition is filed, the processing time can be anything up to 6 months. However, premium processing may be available for the L1B visa, whereby your employer can pay an additional fee to expedite the processing time to 15 days.

Once your petition is approved, you will need to go through consular processing and should visit the US Embassy or Consulate to which you are applying for their specific L1 visa processing times.

How long is an L1B visa valid for?

An L1B visa will be initially granted for 3 years, if you are a specialized employee transferring to an existing U.S office. If you are opening a new office in the US, the L1B visa will be granted for a period of 1 year.

Once granted the L1B visa can be renewed in increments of 2 years, extendable to a maximum period of 5 years.

Click here to read Technical interview Questions and Answers

How much is L1B visa application costs?

When applying for an L1B visa there are various fees that will be payable by your employer, including:

  • A basic filing fee – USD $460
  • A fraud prevention and detection fee – USD $500
  • Public law fee of USD $4500 for US employers with 50 or more employees where more than 50% of these staff have L1 visa status
  • Optional fee of USD $1,225 for premium processing

The visa petitioning fee when submitting Form DS-160 is USD $190. You must pay this fee and any other applicable fees that are based on the country you are from and the US Embassy you are applying to, such as reciprocity fees.

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