The L-1 Visa: How to Apply
What is an L-1 Visa?
An L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa used to enter the United States for the purpose of employment. It is typically issued for one year if it is a new company, or up to three years, depending on the situation, with a maximum of seven years in all. In some instances, permanent residency may be may obtained by using the same credentials qualifying a person for an L-1A petition.
The L-1 visa applies to employees of international companies with offices in both the U.S. and abroad. An L-1 classification also allows a non-U.S. company to send an employee to the United States to help establish its first office in the country. (Additional requirements apply).
Do I Qualify for an L-1?
L-1 visa holders can relocate to the U.S. office after working at the foreign company for at least one continuous year within the past three years.
The domestic and foreign companies must be related in one of the following ways as defined in the federal regulations:
- Parent and subsidiary
- Branch and headquarters
- Sister companies with a mutual parent company
- Affiliates with the same owners or in roughly the same amounts
Getting an L-1 Visa
The L-1 visa application begins with Form I-129. This petition is filed with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services). With this form, you must provide supporting documentation evidencing that you and your company meet the required L-1 qualifications.
USCIS gives Form I-129 approval on a Notice of Action, Form I-797. The L-1 applicant may then use this to apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
*Important note: The I-797 Notice of Action Approval Notice does not guarantee visa issuance at the American Consulate General abroad.
What about my family?
Spouses and children of L-1 visa holders are authorized to accompany them during their time in the U.S. They do so with L-2 visas. The spouse may work in the United States without restriction, and the child may attend school in the country.
Important Considerations on an L-1 Visa
As with all vitally important immigration filings through USCIS, Shane & Shane highly encourages those applying for an L-1 visa to work with a qualified immigration lawyer. Doing so is often critical to the success of applications.