knowledge is defined as one who has specialized knowledge of the company
product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests
and its application in world markets; or, as one with advanced or proprietary
knowledge of the company’s processes or procedures.
of a person with “specialized knowledge” include:
- Possesses knowledge that is
valuable to the employer’s competitiveness in the market place;
- Is uniquely qualified to
contribute to the U.S. employer’s knowledge of the foreign operating
- Has been a key employee at
foreign employer and has been given significant assignments which have enhanced
the employer’s productivity, competitiveness, image or financial position; and
- Possesses knowledge that can
be gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.
are the time limits for L-1A visa holders?
holders (managers and executives) may stay in L-1 status for up to seven years.
In most cases, the visas will be granted in three year increments.
are the time limits for L-1B visa holders?
holders (specialized knowledge employees) may stay in L-1 status for up to five
years. The first petition will be granted for up to three years.
rules for persons coming to work in a new office in the U.S.
office is defined as “an organization which has been doing business in the U.S.
through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for less than one
year.” The definition requires the new office to “be doing business”;
therefore, the mere presence of an agent or office is not enough to satisfy the
new office requirement. In order to qualify for an L-1 where a new office is involved,
the U.S. employer must submit evidence that:
physical premises (office space) have been obtained;
employee meets the one-year continuous employment requirements; and
intended U.S. operation within one year will support an executive or managerial position. To meet this requirement, the evidence should
nature of the office and description of the scope of the entity, the
organizational structure, and its financial goals;
size of the U.S. investment and the financial ability of the foreign entity to
pay the L-1 transferee and to commence doing business; and
organization structure of the foreign entity.
to open up a new office in the U.S. will only be granted an L-1 visa for a
period of one year. 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 and the business
is active and operating.
USCIS closely scrutinizes cases where the transferred employee also has an
ownership interest in the company, since they cannot be certain that the owner
intends to ever leave the U.S. Therefore, the U.S. employer will need to show that
their need for the transferee is not indefinite and that the transferee's
foreign business interests are a strong lure for the person to return upon the
expiration of the transferee's stay in the U.S.
do I apply for L-1 status?
Petition is filed by the U.S. Employer using Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant
Visa, and L Supplement. The forms should be accompanied by a letter of support from
the U.S. Employer, documentary evidence described above, and the appropriate filing fee.
The L-1 Petition is filed with the USCIS Regional
Service Center having jurisdiction over the area of intended employment. L-1
Petitions are approved in three year increments, unless the U.S. employer is a
new office in which case the petition would only be approved for one year.
the USCIS approves the petition, the L-1 worker/transferee must apply at the U.S.
Consulate for the visa. The Consulate normally issues the visa unless it
believes the USCIS has been defrauded or was not aware of important information
at the time of issuing the approval.
if my company has a large number of applicants?
special procedures that make it easier for companies sending over large numbers
of applicants to get L-1 visas for their employees. Companies that qualify can
receive a “blanket approval” for all of their workers rather than having to
apply to USCIS individually for each employee. To qualify for a blanket
petition, the U.S. Employer (Petitioner) must meet the following requirements:
- Must have an office and have
been doing business in U.S. one year;
- Must have 3 or more domestic
and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates; all of which must be engaged
in commercial trade or services;
- Combined U.S. annual sales of $25 million, U.S. workforce of
1,000 or received approval of at least 10 L-1 petitions in the past 12 months;
- Must not be a non-profit
- The L-1 employee must have
worked abroad for parent company, affiliate or subsidiary for 12 months.
procedures for filing are largely similar to that of a regular L-1 petition, except
that the employer must complete Form I-129S and must submit evidence showing
the above requirements are met. In addition, the U.S. employer’s petition
letter can be replaced with a company letter summarizing the basis for the L-1
visa status would the spouse and children of an L-1 nonimmigrant receive?
Spouses and children of L-1 visa
holders may be granted L-2 visas. The 5 and 7 year time limitations on
admission and extensions for L-1s apply to spouses and children.
my spouse work while in the U.S. in L-2 status?
changes in the law made spouses of L-1 visa holders eligible for employment
authorization. An L-2 spouse can apply for work authorization upon
entering the U.S. by filing an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center.
In addition to the I-129 base fee, there is a Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500.00 for new petitions. This fee is collected only one time for a petition involving a beneficiary and an employer. It is submitted to the USCIS at the time of filing
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