What is an L-1B Visa?
L-1B non-immigrant visas enable U.S. employers to transfer highly skilled employees with specialized knowledge to an affiliated office in the U.S. from abroad. Additionally, the L-1B visa allows foreign-owned companies without an existing U.S.-based office to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge to establish one.
An L-1A visa allows intracompany transfers of employees who work in either an executive or managerial capacity. Both visas allow the foreign employee to live and work in the United States at an affiliated office of their parent company.
L-1B applicants must have specialized knowledge in the following areas but are not limited to:
- Organizational development
- Product or process development
- Knowledge of specialized equipment
Additionally, L-1B applicants must play an integral role in the business and be essential for business operations in the U.S. If you’re considering an L-1B visa, contact Garvish Immigration Law Group today to discuss the details of your case.
Benefits of an L-1B Visa
There are many types of non-immigrant visas for qualifying employees and business people. However, the L-1B classification provides employers and employees with specific benefits not available under other types of non-immigrant visas.
A few essential benefits of L1-B visas include:
- There are no limits on the number of visas issued each year,
- L-1B visas allow for a period of stay (including renewals) of up to seven years.
- Qualifying family members of L-1B holders (L-2 visa holders) can legally work during their period of stay.
- Companies can apply for multiple L-1B visas simultaneously (blanket petitions).
The L-1B is considered a dual-intent visa category. However, it does not directly lead to permanent residency. L-1B holders must apply for an adjustment of status to a qualifying visa category before pursuing lawful permanent residence.
If you have questions about adjusting the status of an L-1B, we can help. Contact us today to discuss your options.
Qualifications For an L-1B Visa
The petitioning employer and the employee must meet specific qualifications to be approved for an L-1B visa. Learn more about each below.
Employee L-1B visa applicants must have worked for the petitioning organization for at least one year (continuously) within a three-year period before they are admitted to the U.S. Additionally, employee applicants must:
- Provide services that require specialized knowledge
- Work within a qualifying U.S.-based branch of their employer, or
- Work within a qualifying affiliated organization, or
- Intend to open a new office or branch in the U.S.
What Qualifies as Specialized Knowledge?
To be eligible for an L-1B visa and intracompany transfer, foreign professionals need to have specialized knowledge such as the company’s:
- products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests
- its application in international markets
- an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures
Petitioning employers must also meet specific requirements for L-1B visas. They include but are not limited to:
- Have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company (i.e., affiliate, parent company, subsidiary, etc.)
- Currently employ individuals in the U.S. (or intend to) and in the qualifying country, or
- Intends to set up a new office in the U.S. while paying the employee the prevailing wage
It’s essential to note that the L-1B visa does not require employers to engage in international trade like other types of non-immigrant visa classifications.
L1-B Visa Application Process
The L-1B visa application process is similar to most other employment-based visas. However, it’s typically faster and simpler. Generally, the L1-B visa application process for employees who are currently in the U.S. consists of the following steps:
- Step 1: Complete and file Form I-129 with USCIS
- Step 2: Pay applicable fees
- Step 3: Await a decision
It’s essential to note that after obtaining the approval notice from the USCIS, the L-1B visa application process for individuals outside the U.S. requires the additional step of filing Form DS-160, submitting appropriate documentation, and attending an interview at the consulate with an immigration officer.