What is an L1 Visa?

The L1 visa enables a US employer to transfer an executive, manager or specialized knowledge employee from a qualifying foreign entity to the US entity. You can transfer staff to either the existing US business or to a newly established business. So, if you do not yet have a business operating in the United States you are permitted to set one up and move staff under the “new-office L1 visa route”. The size and sector of your existing foreign business does not matter, provided we can establish a qualifying relationship with your new US business. There are two types of L1 visa: The L1-A visa is for executives and managers and the L-1B visa visa is for employees with specialized knowledge.

Benefits of L1 Visa

  • No Quotas. Unlike some other visa categories there are no annual limits on the number of visas available to certain countries.
  • Fast Processing Times for L1 Visa. Average processing time is between 3-6 months. Premium Processing is also available by paying an additional fee. With the premium processing, USCIS is required to respond with 15 business days.
  • Family. L1 Visa holders are permitted to take their spouses and dependent children with them to the United States on the L-2 visa.
  • Work Authorization. Spouses are granted work authorization permitting them to work for any US employer.
  • Tax Advantages. The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, which means you should not incur taxes on worldwide income.
  • Transition to Green Card. It is possible to transition to a Green Card through the L-1A visas category. The criteria for L1-A is very similar with the criteria for EB1C visa category for Multinational Managers or Executives.

L1 visa process and program

The initial validity of an L1 visa in USA is determined by something called the “Reciprocity Schedule”. Each country has its own reciprocity schedule for the L1 Visa. Some countries have longer than others, some examples are given below. You can find your country on the State Department’s website.

The reciprocity schedule determines the maximum length of validity for the initial visa. After this time period, an applicant can renew their L-1 visa in USA up to a maximum of seven (7) years for an L1A category and five (5) years for an L1B visa.

Applicants for “New Office” L-1 Visas are all granted a one-year visa initially. This allows the authorities to check the progress of the establishment of the new U.S. office. If sufficient progress has been granted, it is possible to renew in increments of two years upto the standard maximum of five or seven years for L1A and L1B respectively.

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The L1-A category of visas is for the transfer of manager and executive-level employees from the overseas office to the US office of the same company. It is important to be able to document clear managerial responsibilities with significant authority in the company. The L1A is initially valid for up to three years if the US firm has been in operation for at least one year. The L1A can then be renewed in two-year increments upto a maximum of seven years. If the US business has not been in operation for at least one year, this is considered a New Office L-1A application and the initial validity is just one year. After seven years, the l-1a visa holder must return home or transfer to another visa. The EB1C visa offers permanent residency to qualifying management and executive level employees.

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The L1B category of visas is for the transfer of employees with specialized knowledge from the overseas office to the US office of the same company. “Specialized knowledge” offers considerable scope for interpretation and it is important to work with a highly experienced immigration attorney who can help you understand whether you have grounds to claim a visa using L1B status. Here at Davies & Associates we offer free initial consultations with an experienced L1 visa attorney to establish whether you have a strong case for applying for the L1B Visa.

The L1B is initially valid for three years unless the US office has been in operation for less than one year, in which case the initial visa validity is one year. The L1B can be renewed in two-year increments up to a maximum of five years.

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If you are a manager or executive in the United States on an L1A category visa, you may apply for permanent residency (Green Card) through the EB1C visa. A key requirement of EB1C Visa is that the manager or executive must have worked outside the US for at least one of the preceding three years before you entered the United States on an L1A. The L1 Visa is a “dual intent visa”, which means that you are permitted to search for alternative visas and permanent residency and do not need to prove an intention to return home. One of the main benefits of EB1C visa is that you are not required to obtain labor certification.

Read more about EB1C visa

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L1B Visas for employees with specialized knowledge are valid for a maximum of five years after this time you must leave the country or switch to another visa. For L1A holders this usually means the EB1C visa route for managers and executives. This is unlikely to be an option for L1B holders. The L1B holder may be able to build a case for an EB2 visa (advanced degree) or an EB3 visa (highly skilled worker). Both EB2 visa and EB3 visa are immigrant visas, which means they offer permanent residency (Green Cards).

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Most visas require an applicant to show proof that they intend to return home after their visa expires. The L1 Visa is a dual intent visa, which does not require applicants to show proof that they intend to return home. This leaves open the possibility of switching to another visa or applying for permanent residency. This means the L1A category visa can be packaged together with an EB1C visa. The EB1C offers permanent residency (Green Card) in the US, while the L1A is a temporary nonimmigrant visa lasting a maximum of seven years. Note: EB1C visa rules mean that applicants must apply within their first two years of being in the US on the L1A.

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A successful L1 applicant applying for a visa under L1 visa can take their spouse to the United States, as well as any dependent children under the age of 21. Spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization to work in the United States. They are not restricted to working in the same L1 business as their spouse.

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Watch our video to learn more about L1 Visas for small and medium sized enterprises

L1 Visas for Small Business
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Opening a business in the US is very straight forward. Things you will ned to consider include:

  • Forming a US Business
  • Obtaining a US Federal Taxation Registration
  • Obtaining a State Tax Registration
  • Opening a Bank Account
  • Obtaining Necessary Licenses and Permits
  • Filing to Protect your Trademarks and Patents
  • Having an Employment Agreement that Protects your Trade Secrets and Clients Lists
  • I-9 and Other Compliance Issues
  • Drafting or Reviewing a Franchise Agreement, If Applicable

Davies & Associates legal specialist corporate legal team can assist with all of these legal issues.

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The L1 USA visa also enables a foreign company that does not yet have a qualifying U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The foreign company must have been in operation for at least a year. The new US office and the foreign company must have a qualifying relationship (parent-subisidiary, affiliate, branch or joint venture partner) but do not necessarily need to operate in the same market or industry. New-office L1s are initially granted for up to one year and extendible in increments of two years.

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The following is generally expected from the overseas business entity:

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Business license
  • Income tax filings for the past three years
  • Audited accounting reports (e.g., balance sheets, profit and loss statements, cash flow reports, etc.)
  • Organizational chart, which should include the total number of employees and indicate the position held by the transferee
  • Company brochure or product introduction
  • Documentation of business transactions (e.g., commercial contracts, invoices, bills of lading, letters of credit, etc.)
  • Bank statements or transactional records
  • Company letterhead with company logo, name, and address (several sheets)
  • Pictures of company's main office, factories, or buildings (disregard if already included in company brochure or product introduction)
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The following is generally expected from the alien beneficiary:

  • Resume
  • Diploma
  • Employment verification letter from the foreign company
  • Board resolution or appointment documents verifying the transfer of the alien to the U.S.
  • Any other documents showing transferee's ability to conduct business in the executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity
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The L1 visa does not require an investment as part of the application. However, there must be an operating U.S. entity for the applicant to transfer to. For people seeking a New Office L1, the U.S. entity must be set up in advance and there may be investment associated with this. It is important to demonstrate that the US company is sufficiently capitalized to support its operations and elevate the beneficiary to a managerial or executive position. Our team of corporate lawyers work closely with our immigration attorneys to ensure a smooth process.

If you have any questions, please contact us

If you have any questions, please contact us
Check our blog post about L1 visa.

Obtaining permission to work in the United States can be a complicated process and requires a working knowledge of the different visa options that are available. Our immigration lawyers advise businesses and individuals so they can navigate this process with optimal efficiency and minimal expense.
Click here for more information about Types of us visas for businesses

India is a nation of entrepreneurs and business owners, many of whom seek their fortunes overseas. Click here for more information about L1 Immigration Visa Lawyer for Indian Investors

The L1 Visa allows for the transfer of employees from Chennai to the US office of your business. It can be an existing US office or we can set a new US office up for you. Please check our page with information about how to obtain L1 Visa at The US Consulate General in Chennai, India.
The L1 Visa allows for the transfer of employees from Mumbai (Bombay) to the US office of your business. It can be an existing US office or we can set a new US office up for you. Please check our page with information about how to obtain L1 Visa at The US Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay), India.
The L1 Visa allows for the transfer of employees from New Delhi, to the US office of your business. It can be an existing US office or we can set a new US office up for you. Please check our page with information about how to obtain L1 visa at the US Embassy in New Delhi, India.
The L1 Visa allows for the transfer of employees from Hyderabad to the US office of your business. It can be an existing US office or we can set a new US office up for you. Please check our page with information about how to obtain L1 visa at the US Embassy in Hyderabad, India.

Italy is a nation of entrepreneurs and business owners, many of whom seek their fortunes overseas. Click here for more information about L1 Visas for Italian Business Owners and Transferees

Italy is a nation of entrepreneurs and business owners, many of whom seek their fortunes overseas. Click here for more information about L1 Visas for Italian Business Owners & Transferees

The L1 visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge from Vietnam to a U.S. legal entity. There are two types of L1 Visas. The L1A visa is for executives and managers and the L1B is for employees with specialized knowledge. Click here for more information about L1 Visa for Vietnamese Nationals

If you have an existing and viable business in the Philippines and you want to expand your operations in the U.S., you may qualify for L-1 visa. The L-1 visa is ideal for small businesses and start-ups as it permits the transfer of managers and executives who possess direct knowledge of operations as well as the goals of the main office. Multi-national companies can also use the L-1 visa to develop a new market in the U.S. Take the crucial next step by contacting us at Davies & Associates. We will guide you through every step of the way to make your vision a reality. Click here for more information about L1 Visa for Filipinos Nationals

Entrepreneur Visas for the United States. The United States is very welcoming of business owners and entrepreneurs. In fact there are many different visa routes for entrepreneurs to live and work in the United States. Click here for more information about US Entrepreneur L1 Visa

Why make Davies & Associates Your L1 Visa Legal Partner

  • We have helped hundreds of clients obtain an L1 Visa with a 100% success rate
  • We assist with both existing-office and new-office L1 Visa applications
  • We assist all sizes of companies from large multinational companies to small businesses and sole proprietorships
  • Our corporate lawyers work closely with our immigration lawyers to ensure that the business has a qualifying relationship
  • Our team can assist with L1 visa renewals and also with switching to a Green Card

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Pathik Parikh
Pathik Parikh
3 months ago

As a repeat client of Davies & Associates over the years, I give my full recommendation and endorsement to the team at D&A and their services. Communication with their office is prompt, cordial and informative. I would especially like to thank Verdi Atienza for thoroughly explaining the process while answering any questions we have along the way.

Sivakumar Vageesan
Sivakumar Vageesan
3 months ago

D&A Team is very professional, highly knowledgeable, client centric, easy reachable and pays attention to every smallest detail to ensure visas are secured successfully. Mr Mark, Mr Verdie, Ms Linda, Ms Angela, Ms Sukanya, Mr Dmitriy, Mr Ervin and the whole team involved, did awesome work and I'm very thankful for their contribution. Will look forward to work with D&A for long future years.

Alex Fedotoff
Alex Fedotoff
5 months ago

Amazing experience, got the job done. Very competent and knowledgeable. Highly recommend Davies and Associates.

Alex Saroyan
Alex Saroyan
4 months ago

Great experience, professional team, good results.

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