In addition to the H1-B and the EB-5 visas, there are several other types of visas that are available to students and graduates who wish to work in and/or immigrate to the United States. I will spend the next few blog posts explaining some of these visas. Let’s start with the L visa.
There are two types of L visas, the L-1A, Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and the L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge is the second. The L-1a permits an employer to transfer an executive or a manager to the United States in order to establish an affiliate office. The employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign office and be doing business in the United States and one other country throughout the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States. The employee must have worked for the qualifying foreign entity or business during at least one of the three prior years and be coming to the United States to provide services as an executive or manager of the qualifying overseas entity. Employers must demonstrate that the employee will secure significant space to set up an office in the United States, demonstrate that the employee was a manager or executive in the company’s overseas office and is entering the United States in order to serve in that capacity. Finally, the office in the United States has to be set up within one year of the approval of the petition. The holder of the L-1A visa may remain in the United States for up to seven years, may also adjust status while in the United States. The statutes (INA section 101(a)(44)) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) have very specific requirements regarding the role of the manager or executive.
The L-1B was created in order to allow a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge from an affiliated office abroad to an office in the United States. The employee need not be a manager or executive. Rather, the candidate must have some specialized knowledge of the company. 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 an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.” The L-1B candidate may remain in the United States for up to five years.
Under the right circumstances, the L visa provides international and multi-national companies the opportunity to open affiliate offices in the United States. It is a visa with many potential pitfalls. Therefore, I recommend that anybody considering an L visa consult with competent counsel prior to beginning the petition process.
About Robert Maher
Robert J. Maher is a New York City based immigration attorney. He has lived and worked in China and is focused on helping business and individual clients from China navigate the immigration system of the United States.