April 28, 2008: L-1 Intracompany Transferee Issues

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Issues

Dear Sir, I am an Italian citizen living in Italy. I am 48 years old and married. I have the possibility of a full time job from an Italian company that has a new branch in Miami, Florida. The CEO told me that I’ll have the job provided that I find the visa and a place to live. My husband and I are ready to come to the United States and set up our new life but first we want to know how to manage the USA Immigration Law. I thank you very much for your support.
— Anonymous

It appears that you may be eligible for an L-1 “intracompany transferee” nonimmigrant visa. This type of nonimmigrant visa is specifically for intracompany managers or executives (L-1A), or individuals who have specialized knowledge (L-1B). The visa holder is transferred from an entity located outside of the United States to work for an entity located in the United States. The United States entity must be related to the foreign entity as a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary, as those terms are defined in the immigration law. You must have been employed by the foreign entity for at least one year during the three year period immediately preceding the filing of the nonimmigrant L-1 petition. For already existing United States entities, your initial authorized period of stay in the United States in L-1A status will not exceed three years. However, you may be eligible to apply for an extension of authorized stay for a total period of stay not to exceed seven years. For new United States entities, initial L-1A status may be granted initially for one year and may be extended for a maximum total of seven years. For L-1B status, a maximum five years authorized of authorized stay is allowed.

As for your spouse, he will be able to accompany you to the United States on an L-2 visa and the same limitations on authorized stay apply will apply to him too. Once your spouse arrives in the United States, he will be eligible to apply for work authorization and a social security number. While you may only work for the entity that petitioned for you, your spouse will be able to work for any employer while in the United States.

L-1A or status may eventually lead to lawful permanent resident status, without the need to test the job market through filing a permanent labor certification. The 8 Code of Federal Regulations (8 C.F.R.) sets forth very strict criteria for determining whether a person is a manager, executive or person with specialized knowledge. It is also very specific as regarding what constitutes a relationship between the foreign and United States entity. Therefore, before filing any paperwork, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your options and to determine whether an L visa, or a different type of visa for that matter, best suits your qualifications and needs.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys