L-1B Visa for Intra-company Transferees with Specialized Knowledge
The L-1B nonimmigrant classification 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. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.
Specific Eligibility Requirements for the L-1B Employer and USCIS Requirements
For an L-1B visa application, the petitioning employer must:
- have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, such as a parent company, employee leasing 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-1B Employee
To qualify for an L-1B visa, the employee must seek entry to the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
In addition, an L-1B beneficiary employee must:
- have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year within the three years immediately preceding admission to the United States. Time spent working in the U.S. does not count.
- Seek entry into the United States to render services stemming from specialized knowledge
- be more than simply skilled or familiar with the employer's interests, and specialized knowledge must be more than commonplace or generally known or obtained information.
Following the L-1 Reform Act of 2004, an L-1B nonimmigrant will be in violation of status if they are "stationed primarily" at the worksite of an employer other than the petitioner, and if they will be:
- principally under the control and supervision of the unaffiliated employer,
- Essentially providing "labor for hire for the unaffiliated employer," rather than providing a product or service for which specialized knowledge specific to the petitioning employer is necessary.
How long can I stay in the U.S. with an L-1B visa?
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1B employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of five years.