L-1 Visa

An L-1 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months (for Iran nationals) to one year (Mexico), two years (Brazil, Russia, China), to five years (India, Japan, Germany), based on a reciprocity schedule. With extensions, the maximum stay is seven years.

L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the corporation’s US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one continuous year within the previous three years prior to admission in the US. The US and non-US employers must be related in one of four ways: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or ‘affiliates’ owned by the same or people in approximately the same percentages. The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements.

Types of L-1 Visas

Type Description Years of Validity
L-1A For executives and managers Up to 7
L-1B For workers with specialized knowledge Up to 5

After the expiration of the 7 or 5 years respectively, the person (foreigner) must leave the United States for an aggregate of 365 days, and must work for a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the U.S. company during that time before becoming eligible to reapply for an L-1 visa.

There are two types of L-1 procedures:

General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee

To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:

To qualify, the named employee must also:

Family of L-1 Workers

The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 non-immigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.


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