The L-1 Visa for Employees Coming to the United States



L-1 Visa for Intra-company Workers


A company that wishes to relocate qualified employees who are foreign nationals may seek the L-1 visa.  The L-1 visa is a  non-immigrant visa which allows companies to temporarily  relocate employees to U.S. operations.  The relocated employee must be transferred from a subsidiary, parent, affiliate, or branch office of the company abroad.  It is important to note that the L-1 visa is also available to employees who are also working for non-profit, religious, or charitable organizations.

The L-1 visa is favored by both small foreign companies and large multi-national companies.  It allows companies to send experienced managers or executives to U.S. branches of that company.  Companies establishing U.S. based branches usually seek the advantages of having experienced in-house managers and executives to aid in business success abroad.


What are the different types of L-1 visas?


There are different types of L-1 visas to help businesses accomplish the intra-company transfers by companies.  The L-1 visa classifications are L-1A and L-1B.


The L-1A nonimmigrant category enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.


The L-1B nonimmigrant category enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.


Am I eligible for an L-1 Visa?


To be eligible for the L-1 Visa, you must be a  qualified employee of the company that wants to relocate you to the United States.  You must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the same company for at least one year out of the last three years.  The U.S. company that wants to relocate you  must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company.


For more information on the L-1 visa program and deciding which L-1 visa is right for you, do not hesitate to contact our experienced visa attorneys at JCS Immigration and Visa Services.


Specific Eligibility Requirements for the L-1 Employer


For an L-1A or L-1B visa application, the petitioning employer must:


  • have a specific type of qualifying relationship with a foreign company.  The petitioning U.S. employer may be  a parent company, branch office, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company.  A company that is a corporation, non-profit, religious or charitable organization can qualify as an employer for the purposes of an L-1 visa.   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 currently conducting business in the United States as well as in one other foreign country.  The business activities can be engaged in either directly or through a qualifying organization,  as described above.  The petitioning employer must remain in business for the duration of the L-1 visa beneficiary’s stay in the U.S.


  • act as a business that provides goods and/or services in what is defined as 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


If the petitioning employer is well known and established company, these requirements may be easy to prove without extensive documentation.   However, if the company or organization is small or newly established, the employer should be able provide extensive documentation to demonstrate their eligibility for the L-1 visa.


If you need to apply for an employee’s L-1 visa, you would benefit from the professional services of an experienced immigration attorney.  Call or email JCS Immigration and Visa Services.  Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers are ready to help you today!  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]

Can I bring my family with an L-1A visa?


USCIS recognizes that it is important to keep families together.  An L-1A visa holder (the employee being relocated to the United States) may be accompanied or followed later by his or her spouse and children/  The children must be unmarried and under 21 years of age.  Such family members may seek admission on an  L-2 nonimmigrant visa.   If  the application is approved, the visa will generally be granted for the same period of stay as the employee.  For more information on the L-2 visa, please read our section on the L-2 visa.



Can my spouse work while we are in the U.S. on an L Visa?


Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization.  If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.  Dependent children on L-2 visas are not eligible to apply for employment authorization.


Can my spouse or child(ren)attend school in the U.S. on an L Visa?


L-2 visa holders are permitted to attend school either part-time or full-time.

The L-1 Visa Category is a Dual Intent Visa


The L-1 visa is a ‘dual intent’ visa.  This means that although the primary reason for the L-1 visa holder to be in the U.S. is to work for the U.S. branch of a foreign company, he or she may also apply for a Green Card and become a permanent U.S. resident.  This is considered a dual intent because it is possible for the L-1 visa holder to be both an employee visitor to the U.S. but also consider immigrating to be a permanent U.S. resident without jeopardizing his or her L-1 visa status or their visa application from a U.S. consular office abroad.  This is an extremely advantageous position for an individual who wishes to immigrate, because visa numbers are almost always current if the L-1 visa holder applies for the Green Card through EB-1C category.   When this is the case, the L-1 visa holder will not have to wait for visa numbers to become available before applying for an Adjustment of Status and receiving a Green Card.  For more on how to use your L-1 visa as a stepping stone to permanent residency, please read more here.  [LINK TO L-1 TO EB-1C]

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