If you are a foreign professional who works for a company that has an office in the United States, you may qualify for an L visa, which is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows you to work in the US for a specific period of time, usually between one and seven years, depending on your position and the type of L visa you apply for.
An L visa can be a great opportunity to advance your career, expand your network, and experience a different culture. However, not everyone can qualify for an L visa. There are certain requirements that you and your employer must meet in order to be eligible for this visa category.
In this article, we will explain what an L visa is, explore the different types of L visas available, list the requirements applicants need to meet to qualify for each type, and break down the L visa application process, so read on to learn what you need to know.
What is an L Visa?
An L visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign workers who have been employed by a company outside the US for at least one year in the past three years to transfer to a related company in the US. The company can be either a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of the foreign company.
There are two main types of L visas: L-1A and L-1B. An L-1A visa is for executives or managers who have authority and responsibility over the company’s operations, policies, or personnel. An L-1B visa is for workers who have specialized knowledge about the company’s products, services, processes, or techniques.
Both types of L visas are initially valid for up to three years, with possible extensions depending on the country of origin and the type of business. The maximum duration of stay for an L-1A visa is seven years, while for an L-1B visa, it is five years.
What are the General Requirements for an L Visa?
To qualify for an L visa, you must meet the following general requirements:
- There must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company. They must be either parent and subsidiary, branch and headquarters, sister companies with common parent, or affiliates with common ownership or control.
- The employee coming to the US must have been continuously employed full-time by the organization for at least one year in the past three years prior to applying for an L visa.
- The employment abroad must have been in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity.
- The employee coming to the US must continue to work in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity for the same or related organization.
- The US company must have adequate physical premises to house the employee and conduct business.
- The US company must be able to support the employee financially during their stay in the US.
What are the Specific Requirements for Each Type of L Visa?
In addition to the general requirements above, each type of L visa has some specific requirements that you must meet in order to qualify.
L-1A Visa Requirements
To qualify for an L-1A visa, you must:
- Have been employed abroad as an executive or manager for at least one year in the past three years.
- Be coming to the US to work as an executive or manager for the same or related organization.
- Have authority and responsibility over key aspects of the organization’s operations, policies, or personnel.
- Supervise and direct other professional employees or manage an essential function or department of the organization.
- Have discretion over decision-making and day-to-day operations.
L-1B Visa Requirements
To qualify for an L-1B visa, you must:
- Have been employed abroad as a specialized knowledge worker for at least one year in the past three years.
- Be coming to the US to work as a specialized knowledge worker for the same or related organization.
- Have specialized knowledge about the organization’s products, services, processes, or techniques that is not commonly known in the industry or easily transferrable to another employer.
- Use your specialized knowledge to contribute significantly to the organization’s competitiveness, productivity, or innovation.
Applying for an L Visa
If based on the requirements listed above, you have determined that you qualify for an L Visa, you are ready to begin the application process, which involves the following steps:
- Your employer in the US must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with the required documents and fees. The documents include evidence of the qualifying relationship between the foreign and US companies, evidence of your employment abroad and in the US, evidence of your executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position, and evidence of the US company’s ability to support you financially.
- Once the petition is approved by USCIS, you will receive a Notice of Action (Form I-797), which is also sent to the US consulate or embassy in your country of residence.
- You must then apply for an L visa at the US consulate or embassy in your country of residence, by filling out an online DS-160 form, paying the visa fee, scheduling an interview, and submitting your passport, photo, and other supporting documents.
- You must attend the visa interview at the US consulate or embassy, where you will be asked questions about your purpose of travel, your qualifications, your employer, and your ties to your home country. You may also be required to provide biometric information, such as fingerprints and photos.
- If your visa is approved, you will receive your passport with the visa stamp and a sealed envelope containing your petition documents. You must not open this envelope; you must present it to the immigration officer at the port of entry in the US.
- Once you arrive in the US, you will be admitted for the duration of your approved petition, which may be shorter than the validity of your visa stamp. You will receive an I-94 form that indicates your authorized period of stay and status in the US.
Increasing Your Chances of Getting Approved for an L Visa
Obtaining an L visa can be challenging, especially if you are applying to open a new US office or for a specialized knowledge position. Here are some tips on how to increase your chances of getting approved for an L visa:
- Prepare a detailed and persuasive petition that demonstrates how you and your employer meet all the requirements listed above. Provide clear and relevant evidence to support your claims, such as organizational charts, job descriptions, contracts, financial statements, business plans, product brochures, training manuals, etc.
- Anticipate potential questions or issues that USCIS or the consular officer may raise about your application. For example, they may question the legitimacy of the qualifying relationship between the foreign and US companies, the nature and scope of your executive, managerial or specialized knowledge role, or the need for your services in the US. Be ready to explain and justify any discrepancies or gaps in your employment history, educational background, or qualifications.
- Be honest and consistent in your answers and documents. Do not lie or exaggerate about any aspect of your application. Do not submit any false or forged documents. Do not omit any relevant information that may affect your eligibility. Any fraud or misrepresentation may result in the denial of your visa or your removal from the US.
- Work with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you prepare a strong and accurate application, advise you on how to avoid common pitfalls and errors, and represent you before USCIS or the consular officer if needed.
Do You Qualify for an L Visa? We Can Help You Apply For It
If you are looking for a reliable and reputable law firm to help you apply for an L visa, look no further than Jurado & Associates, P.A. We are a team of dedicated and experienced immigration attorneys who have helped many clients obtain their L visas successfully.
We know how important it is for you to work in the US and achieve your professional goals. That is why we will work tirelessly to ensure that your application is prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail. We will guide you through every step of the process, from gathering all the necessary documents to preparing you for the interview. We will also keep you updated on the status of your case and answer any questions or concerns you may have along the way. We are confident that we can help you obtain an L visa and make your dream of working in the US a reality. Contact us today by phone at (305) 921-0976, by email at [email protected], or by WhatsApp at +1 (305) 921-0976.