L-1 Visas for Temporary Workers are nonimmigrant visas that are available for foreign workers. These visas are available to employees who work for international companies that are located both in the United States, as well as abroad. With an L-1 Visa, foreign workers are able to relocate to the US-based office of the company they work for once they have worked for the company abroad on a continuous basis for a period of one year within three years prior to their entry into the United States. The US-based and non-US-based employer must be connected in one of the following ways:
- They must be a parent or a subsidiary
- They must be a brand and headquarters
- They must be sister companies that are owned by the same parent company
- They must be affiliates
L-1 Visa Subcategories
There are two L-1 Visa subcategories:
- L-1A: This visa is intended for foreign intracompany transferees. The transferees must hold an executive or managerial position within the company they work for outside of the United States. This visa is valid for a period of up to 7 years.
- L-1B: This visa is intended for foreign intracompany transferees who hold a position that requires a specialized knowledge. This visa is valid for a period of up to 5 years.
Once the L-1A or L-1B visa expires, the foreigner will only be able to qualify for another L-1 visa if he or she works abroad for a period of at least 1 year for the foreign office of the US-based company.
L-1 Visa Requirements
The following qualifications for each L-1 visa category must be met:
- L-1A Qualifications:
- The foreign employee typically has to have worked for the subsidiary, branch, affiliate, or parent office of the US-based company on a continuous basis for a period of one year within a three year period prior to entering the United States.
- The foreign employee must be entering the US in order to provide a specific service as either an executive or a manager for a branch of the same employer, or for one of the employer’s qualifying organizations.
- L-1B Qualifications:
- The foreign employee has to have worked for the subsidiary, branch, affiliate, or parent office of the US-based company on a continuous basis for a period of one year within a three year period prior to entering the United States.
- The foreign employee must be entering the US in order to provide specialized knowledge services to a branch of the same employer, or for one of the employer’s qualifying organizations.
L-1 Visa Cost
The total costs of an L-1 Visa will depend on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the country of origin of the visa holder.
The petitioner can expect to pay the following expenses:
- A USCIS I-129 filing fee
- Biometric fees
- A Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee
- A 113-114 Public Law fee
- A nonimmigrant visa fee
- Attorney fees
L-1 Visa Process
An employer must petition for an L-1A or an L-1B visa on the behalf of the foreign employee. The process of applying for an L-1 Visa is as follows:
- Form I-129, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker must be completed, as well as any supplements that relate to Form I-129.
- The Form I-129 filing fee must be submitted, as well as any biometrics fees (if applicable).
- Supporting documentation must be submitted.
- A duplicate copy of Form I-129 must be submitted, as well as any supporting documentation.
- Form I-129 must be signed and filed at the proper filing location, which can be found on the instructions provided with the form.
After the above requirements have been fulfilled, the USCIS will receive and process the Form I-129 and your application. Once the application has been processed, the employer will receive a notice that the Form I-129 has been received. The employer will also receive a date for a biometrics appointment. Then, the employer will receive a notice of decision from the USCIS.
L-1 Visa Processing Time
The amount of time it will take to process the L-1 Visa varies and is based on a case-by-case basis. Once Form I-129 and all other necessary documentation and filing fees have been filed by an employer, the processing time by the USCIS can take up to 6 months; however, recently, the processing time has been taking longer, which is a result of more stringent processing for visas. There is no difference between the processing time for the L-1A and the L-1B visas.
In order to speed up the processing time, premium processing can be used. With premium processing, the processing of Form I-129 petitions can be significantly reduced, from 6 months down to 15 days. Do note, however, that there is an additional fee for expedited processing; however, should the USCIS not be able to meet the 15 day deadline, the additional fee for premium processing will be refunded.
Unfortunately, processing of the L-1A or L-1B visa can be delayed. A delay can occur if any errors or omissions exist on the application, and these delays can be significant; in some cases, errors and omissions can lead to a refusal of the L-1 visa. If an error or omission exists, a Request for Further Evidence (RFE), which was once required, is no longer a requirement, and therefore, an application can be denied if any pertinent information or evidence is lacking.
With that said, it is important that the petitioner ensures the application is complete, accurate, and thorough. The petitioner should include a detailed description of the role of the foreign worker, as well as the responsibilities and the qualifications of the foreign worker that will satisfy the L-1 visa requirements.
L-1 Visa Renewals
L-1 visas can be renewed and extended within the United States. They cannot be renewed in cases of blanket petitions; a new Form I-129 petition has to be filed. Additionally, renewal of the L-1 visa does not apply to the actual visa, it only applies to the status. In order to renew the visa, the applicant will have to go to the US embassy or consulate in his or her home country.