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 L-1: Three Years Visa 

Overview
An L-1 visa is a visa used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. It is a nonimmigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time - generally three years. L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both a home country and the United States , or which intend to open a new office in the United States while maintaining their home country interests. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the corporate's US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year prior to being granted L-1 status. The US office must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company.

Spouses of L-1 visa holders are allowed to work after obtaining work authorization, without restriction, in the US, and the L-1 visa may legally be used as a steppingstone to the green card.

Types of L-1 Visas
The L-1 visa has two subcategories: L -1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. L -1A status is valid for up to seven years; L-1B status is good for up to five years. After the expiration of the seven or five years, respectively, the alien 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.

Process
Application for an L-1 visa begins with the filing of a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-129, along with supporting documentation showing that both the U.S. company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch meet the qualifying factors set forth in the law and regulations.

Notice of approval of the Form I-129 is given by the USCIS on a Notice of Action, Form I-797, and using this as the basis of the application, the alien may apply for visa issuance at a consulate or embassy of the United States in the country having jurisdiction over their residence.

Applicants who are in the United States at the time of the filing of the I-129 can request a change of status from their present immigration status (i.e. visitor, student, etc.), so long as they are in status at the time of the filing of the I-129. If they go out of status after the filing, but before approval, there is no negative consequence, and the person does not acrue unlawful presence.

Upon application at the consulate or embassy, the spouse and children of the primary applicant who are under the age of 21 may be issued L-2 visas. Children of the primary L-1 can attend school. The spouse of the primary L-1 can apply with the USCIS for employment authorization after arriving in the United States and, after issuance of the Employment Authorization Document, may thereafter work for any employer.

An I-797 Notice of Action showing the approval of the visa petition does not guarantee that a visa will be issued at the U.S. consulate or embassy, but L-1 visas are normally approved if the consular officer concludes that the individual is qualified and that both the U.S. company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch are legitimate.

Basis for visa denial: A consular officer may deny the issuance of an L-1 visa in cases where the officer determines the U.S. company that filed the L-1 petition may not be qualified, or that the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch outside the United States is not qualified or does not intend to continue in business after L-1 visa issuance, or that USCIS approved the petition based on a fraud committed by the company or the visa applicant, or that the applicant is ineligible for that class of visa under section 212(a) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In addition, the consular officer may request that the underlying petition be reconsidered by USCIS.

"Dual Intent" allowed: Unlike some classes of non-immigrant visas, L-1 applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the United States, or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon.

Renewals
L-1 status may be renewed and extended within the United States . Except in the case of blanket petitions, a new I-129 petition must be filed. Renewal in the United States applies to status only, not the actual visa in the passport. For visa renewal, the applicant must go to a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the United States . An alien cannot leave the United States and then reenter without a valid L-1 visa, and must appear personally before a consular officer for visa issuance. This often leads to difficulties for applicants, because it means leaving their adopted home in the United States for as long as it takes the embassy to issue their new visa. In particularly busy times of year, or at some consulates or embassies, this can take several weeks or more.

Fees
For current CIS petition fees and our attorney fee, please
contact us.

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