L1 transfer visa enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated US office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.  The L1 transfer visa applicant must evidence sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured.

The L1 transfer visa applicant must have been employed as the owner, executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the application.  If opening a new office, the applicant must evidence the office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the application.

The L1 transfer visa applicant’s US business must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. The foreign company should be the parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.  The applicant must evidence the US business is actively doing business in the US and in at least one other foreign country for the duration of their stay in the US.  Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods or services and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office in the US.

The L1 transfer visa applicant’s executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.  The applicant’s managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage 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.

L1 transfer visa applicant owners or qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year.  The applicant will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years if the business is already operational.  Applicants must renew their L1 transfer visa or extend their stay every two years.  The L1 transfer visa is only valid for a maximum period of seven years.

Certain organizations may establish the required qualifying relationship in advance of filing individual L1 visa applications by filing a blanket petition.  In order to establish eligibility for blanket L certification, the employer must meet the following requirements:

  1. Each of the qualifying organizations must be engaged in commercial trade or services;
  2. Must have an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more;
  3. Must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates;
  4. Must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Along with the other qualifying organizations, have obtained at least 10 L1 approvals during the previous 12-month period; or
    • Have US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
    • Have a US work force of at least 1,000 employees.

The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted a L1 transfer visa.  It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the US quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS.

The transferring L1 transfer visa applicant may be accompanied or followed by his or her husband or wife and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Such family members may seek admission as L2 transfer visa applicants and will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.  Spouses of L1 transfer visa applicant may apply for work authorization and the spouse may work anywhere without restriction.