The L-1 classification is frequently used by multinational companies seeking to transfer certain employees to the U.S. from abroad. Basically the company must be doing business in the U.S. and abroad; the employee must have worked for a related company for a requisite period in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position; and be transferring to a position in the U.S. in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position.
Companies must be related: Parent, Branch, Subsidiary, Affiliate. This requires a common tie of control. The general benchmark is 50% common ownership, but effective/negative control may also be demonstrated as a qualification. A minimum of a U.S. and foreign company is required, each continuing to do business and having an employee before and after the transfer. A mere office or agent does not qualify.
The employee must have worked with a related company for at least 1 continuous year within the past 3 years. Periods spent in the U.S., lawfully are not interruptive of the one continuous year period, but those days do not count towards the 365 day requirement.
The employee must have also gained qualifying Executive, Managerial or Specialized knowledge during the one year qualifying period. Separate guidance pages with more detail are available for each position type category.
- Specialized Knowledge — professionals with degrees are usually permitted with project summaries describing special knowledge gained. For non-professionals, proof to USCIS is
often subjective and more difficult, requiring documented training and/or documented company procedures of significance and in detail.
- Managers — must manage professionals, two layers of staff below them, or functions of equivalent responsibility (often demonstrated through significant budget authority).
- The Intracompany Transferee’s salary may continue to be paid by foreign entity. Employee’s may maintain foreign benefits programs. The Petitioner (US sponsor) must have control (non-exclusive) of the Employee.
The initial approval is valid for 3 years. Extensions are available in 2 year increments. The L1A (Managers/Executives) has a 7 year maximum authorization and L1B (Specialized Knowledge) has a 5 year maximum. Extensions beyond these limits are available for time spent outside during the authorized period and for those not living in the U.S. L1 Spouse’s may also apply for work documents once in the U.S.
L1 Blankets are available for established companies that are very large, or make substantial use of the L1 category. Specifically, the employer must have obtained 10 L1’s in a year, have annual U.S. sales of $25 million, OR employ a U.S. workforce of 1,000.
- With the company’s blanket, employees may apply directly at the U.S. Consulate, avoiding the need for USCIS authorization, saving time and expedite fees.
- Specialized Knowledge personnel must have professional degrees.