L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executives or Managers

The L-1A visa allows 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.  This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker on behalf of the employee.

L-1A Employer Requirements

The employer must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade. 

"Doing business" means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

L-1A Employee Requirements

The prospective L-1A employee must also:

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive ormanagerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

"Executive capacity" generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. "Managerial capacity" means the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization.  It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.

L-1A visas for establishing new offices

For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:

  • The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
  • The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
  • The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

Initial period of stay

L-1A employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of 1 year.  All other L-1A employees are allowed a maximum initial stay of 3 years.  For all L-1A visa holders, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional 2 years. The maximum limit of L-1A time is 7 years.

Benefits for family members

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may be admitted to the United States in L-2 status. L-2 visa holders are granted the same period of stay as the employee. In addition, L-2 spouses may apply for work authorization. If approved, the L-2 spouse may work without any specific restrictions on working for certain employers.

Current trends in L-1A visa petitions

In recent years, L-1A visa petitions have faced significantly increased scrutiny. While L-1A visas were more easily obtainable in years past, they are now quite difficult to obtain because of changes in the way that USCIS interprets regulations and requirements. Prospective L-1A applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain legal representation.