L-1A Visa for Intra-company Workers Employed as Executives or Managers
L-1A visas are designed for intra-company executive transferees coming to work in the United States. The L-1A visa allows a company which does not currently have a U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States in order to establish one or allows the foreign entity to place experienced employees in an established U.S. branch. The employer must file an application on behalf of the employee. The following information describes some of the features and requirements of the L-1A nonimmigrant visa program.
Specific Eligibility Requirements for the L-1A Employer and USCIS Requirements
For an L-1A visa application, the petitioning employer must:
- have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, such as a parent company, branch office, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company. A qualifying business entity or qualifying organization may be a corporations, non-profits, religious or charitable organizations. For more information on qualifying entities, please read our section describing them each in more detail here. [LINK TO L-1 VISA QUALIFYING ORGS]
- be conducting business in the United States and in at least one other country. This can be done directly or through a qualifying organization, and it must be in business for the duration of the L-1 visa beneficiary’s stay in the U.S.
- function as a business such that there is a provision of goods and/or services in a regular, systematic, and continuous manner.
- not only have a mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad to try to comply with the USCIS requirements
Specific Eligibility Requirements for the L-1A Employee
To qualify for an L-1A visa, the employee must:
- have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States. Any time spent working in the United States will not count toward the one year of required employment.
- have been employed abroad in an executive or managerial position, or a “qualifying position.” For more information on qualifying positions, please read more in depth descriptions below.
- be coming to the U.S. to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations
- be qualified for the position by virtue of his or her prior education and experience
L-1A Managers and Executives
The L-1A visa beneficiary should hold an executive or managerial position.
According to USCIS, executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional level employees. This may also include the management of the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization.
First-line supervisors are usually not considered managers for L-1A visa purposes unless the employees they supervise are professionals or otherwise specially trained and educated.
How long can I stay in the U.S. with an L-1A visa?
The L-1A visa is granted initially for either one or three years. L-1 visas issued on behalf of new companies in the U.S. are allotted one year time periods, while companies in the U.S. that have been in business for more than one year are allotted L-1 visas with three year time limits. Extensions are available in two-year increments, with a total stay not to exceed seven years.