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What are the requirements for the L-1 intracompany transfer visa?

L-1 intracompany transfer visas are available to foreign nationals coming to work in the US for an employer that is related to a company the applicant worked for prior to entering the United States. To be eligible to apply for an L-1A Executive or Manager or L-1B Specialized Knowledge employee transfer from an entity abroad to a U.S. entity, both entities must be part of a qualifying organization. Qualifying organization means a United States or foreign firm, corporation or other legal entity that is a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the entity you are transferring from. The employer must be doing business in the United States as an employer as well as at least one other country. The company must also demonstrate an employer-employee relationship with the foreign national.

U.S. immigration law defines “Executive” as an “employee” in the organization who has the ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight, while “Manager” generally refers to an “employee” who supervises and controls the work of professional employees and 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.

Specialized knowledge means 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 expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

The initial admission period of foreign nationals in L-1 status is 3 years, with the possibility of a 2-year extension. L-1A manager and executive may be eligible for an additional 2-year extension for a total stay in the United States of 7 years.

Foreign nationals coming to open up a new office in the US will only be granted a one-year stay in the US. The Citizenship and Immigration Service will also require additional information about the plans for the new office such as proof that office space has been obtained, that the applicant has had the appropriate experience with the foreign company and that the foreign company will remain in existence during the full period of the applicant's transfer to 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.

Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the L-1 visa holder may be admitted to the United States in L-2 status. A spouse in L-2 status may be authorized to work in the United States.

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