Everything You Need to Know
About the L1A Visa
Immigration matters are generally complicated.
Having a designated L1a Visa Lawyer to help with the process is invaluable. Call ImmiVisa Law Group for help.
Visa for Intracompany Transfers to the US
In this era of globalization, multinational companies or businesses often need to transfer some of their employees to the United States to handle their operations or set up new business entities here.
These employees are often foreign nationals who have been working for their company in other countries. For them to legally enter the USA and begin work, they’ll need the proper documentation, including an L1A visa.
What Is the L1A Visa?
The L1A visa is also known as the Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager Visa. It is a non-immigrant visa granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreign executives or managers who have been transferred to the US offices of their company. A candidate can only qualify for L1 visa holder status after working abroad for at least one year for the parent company, its subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.
Foreign corporations with no linked offices in the United States may also use an L1A visa to send their managers or executives to the country to open a branch office.
The L1A visa is one of two types of work visas under the L1 visa category. Its counterpart, the L1B visa, is used to transfer eligible employees with specific skills to the United States.
The L1 visa is a “dual intent visa” that allows visa holders to apply for other visas, including permanent residency (green card), without demonstrating a desire to return home.
How to Obtain the L1A Visa
The process of getting an L1A visa is filled with several qualifications and conditions that the foreign employee and the company ought to meet. Failing to fulfill these conditions may lead to a denial. Thus, it is essential to take note of the requirements before applying for an L1A visa.
Employer Eligibility for L1A Visa
Every company seeking an L1A non-immigrant visa for their employees must:
- Show a qualifying relationship with a foreign company either as a parent company, subsidiary, affiliate, or sister company owned by the same parent company
- Continue to operate as a business and US employer and a foreign employer in at least one other country during the visa holder’s stay in the US.
- Demonstrate sufficient physical premises to accommodate their new offices if the petition seeks an L1A visa for the purposes of opening offices in the US
Strict requirements must be met for a managerial or executive position to be eligible for an L1A visa. In order to qualify, you must demonstrate direct responsibility for major company decisions.
It is also necessary for L1A applicants to have worked continuously for the multinational firm for at least one year within the previous three years prior to their proposed entry into the country. They should also demonstrate that they plan to leave the country once their stay is completed.
Criteria for Managers
To qualify as a manager for an L1A visa application, one must oversee a large company or department and must perform instrumental functions, including:
- Hiring and terminating staff
- Being responsible for the organization’s core functions
- Running the day-to-day operations
- Carrying out other related managerial duties such as managing employees
Criteria for Executives
An executive must be able to make discretionary decisions that can affect the organization’s policies and objectives in addition to managing the organization. Typically, executives perform their duties with little supervision from upper-level executives, shareholders, and board members.
As such, firm executives, employees who sit on the board of directors, and company stockholders are all eligible for L1A visas.
L1 Blanket Petitions
An employer who frequently uses the L1 visa category for intracompany transfers may apply for a Blanket L petition approval under the L1 visa regulations. A Blanket L petition approval facilitates the processing of individual L1 visa applications. Rather than waiting for a USCIS approval, applicants can apply directly at a US consulate for the L visa stamp.
In the absence of a Blanket L, employers wishing to sponsor L1 candidates must file individual petitions with USCIS. This can get tedious, especially if the company processes many international transfers.
To obtain a Blanket L, qualifying organizations must:
- Have obtained at least ten L1 approvals in the year preceding the blanket petition application
- Have an office in the United States that has been operating for at least one year
- Participate in commercial trade or services
- Have at least three domestic and foreign branches
- Have US subsidiaries with combined annual sales of at least 25 million dollars; or have at least 1,000 employees.
The Blanket L does not guarantee that a specific employee will be given L1A status. Still, it allows the firm to quickly move eligible foreign workers to the United States.
L1A Visa Fee Cost
For an L1 visa, the applicant must pay the following fees:
Form I-129 USCIS L1 visa application filing fee $460
$500 cost for fraud prevention and detection
$190 DS-160 form MRV filing fee
$370 filing fee for Form I-539 L2 visa for L2 dependent status change or extension
You could also incur other expenses such as attorney fees and miscellaneous costs.
Duration of an L1A Visa
Initial L1 “New Office” visas last one year. This permits authorities to monitor the new US office’s progress. If enough progress is made, L1A can be renewed in two-year increments for up to seven years.
L1A Visa Extension
You may extend your initial stay in the United States if your L1 visa is about to expire. To get an extension, you must meet the following requirements:
You have worked continuously with the initial visa granted
Your income and employment obligations don’t preclude you from L1 status.
If you cannot provide evidence of these items, your L1 extension will likely be denied. A business immigration attorney can help you organize your evidence to present the most compelling case to USCIS and reduce your likelihood of denial. Consider hiring one today.
L1A Visa Processing Time
The average processing period for an L1 visa application can range from six months to one year. Processing time can vary from one applicant to another depending on the consulate or embassy where the application is submitted, the quality of the application, and the applicant’s circumstances.
Processing Form I-129 alone at a USCIS service center can take up to six months. It may take up to six months for a visa interview to be scheduled at the US diplomatic mission in the applicant’s home country if the applicant’s petition is approved.
L1 premium processing is available at an extra fee. It results in an expedited decision being made, cutting the processing time from six months to 15 days.
Common Reasons for L1A Visa Rejections
The following are some common reasons for L1A visa rejections:
- Failure to meet eligibility requirements including the employee and employer criteria.
- Payscale: The offered wage must not differ significantly from the standard industry range.
- Incorrect or insufficient supporting documents: Dealing with documents can be confusing. Family-based immigration attorneys can ensure that all your documents are in order.
- Profitability of the foreign company: Applicants for L1A visas are evaluated more based on their current and future expansion than other nonimmigrant work visas. The company must demonstrate that it is legitimate and will have a significant impact on the US economy and the job market.
ImmiVisa Law Group Can Help
Immigration law is a notoriously complex area for many people. Therefore, it is important to retain the services of an immigration attorney to help with your case.
At ImmiVisa Law Group, we can help you with all your business immigration needs and answer any questions you might have.
Our family-based immigration attorneys are also here to help you reunite with your family abroad and fulfill your American dream. Contact us today to get started.