International companies that need to send employees to the United States can do so through the L-1 Visa program. L-1 Visas are available to executive or managerial employees or employees possessing specialized knowledge who are transferred among corporate branches or between affiliated companies. This classification can also be used to start a branch or affiliated company in the United States in some circumstances. Employees must have worked in a qualifying position for the same (or affiliated) company for at least one of the prior three years. In some cases these requirements may be avoided through the use of E Visas instead. Spouses and children of L-1 workers may accompany them to the United States, and spouses may request employment authorization.
L-1A Executives and Managers
Executives and managers, including owners, may qualify for an L-1A classification. In an existing company, it is generally required that the business organization be sufficiently large to remove the executive or manager from day-to-day activities. In a new company, it must be shown that the business will soon grow to such a size. In some cases, managers of departments or business functions rather than personnel may qualify for L-1A Visas. L-1A classification lasts a maximum of seven years and must be renewed periodically.
L-1B Specialized Knowledge Workers
Workers whose specialized knowledge of company products, services, procedures or otherwise is required by the U.S. branch or affiliated company may be transferred into the United States with an L-1B Visa. Language skills alone are not sufficient to support an L-1B classification, however. Specialized knowledge workers are especially important in new businesses where the products or services have not previously reached the U.S. market; they are commonly seen when founding new companies, but the transfer can take place at any later time also. L-1B classification lasts a maximum of five years and must be renewed at least once during that period.
L-1 Blanket Classification
Large and established companies may request pre-authorization to transfer employees to the United States in some circumstances. A business that has been operating in the United States for at least a year, operates at least three offices worldwide may qualify for this special exemption if the company has previously transferred many L-1 employees, has over 1,000 U.S. employees, or over $25 million in U.S.-based income. Once an L-1 Blanket authorization is approved, subsequent transfers are greatly eased.
Canadian L-1 Applicants
Under terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadians who are otherwise qualified for L-1A or L-1B status may apply at the United States border without previous authorization.
L-1 Visas are versatile options for international business entities. In many cases, a complex analysis of business relationships and the positions in question is required to determine eligibility. Greenberg Visa Law has substantial experience in processing L-1 Visas for businesses and entrepreneurs alike. Contact us today for a consultation on your eligibility.