A Guide on How to Obtain an L-1 Work Visa in the United States

Learn about what an H-2A visa is, who it's for, the requirements, and process for obtaining one to temporarily employee a foreign worker in the U.S. 

What is an L-1 Work Visa?

The L-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa category designed for companies with operations in both the U.S. and a foreign country, allowing them to transfer specific employees from their international locations to their U.S. operations.

Two types of L-1 visas are available to workers of affiliate U.S. companies overseas. The first is an L-1A visa, which is for executives or managers and the other is an L-2B visa for specialized knowledge staff. Companies operating in the United States and overseas can apply via the USCIS service center for an L-1 visa to transfer someone. Employees will initially be granted three years of residence, but can receive up to five or even seven years for an L-1B and L-1A visa, respectively.

Requirements for an L-1 Visa

A current employee in a managerial/executive capacity or in a position requiring specialized knowledge must have worked for the same employer abroad continuously for one year within the past three. The United States has put strict requirements for who will qualify as an employee in a managerial or specialized knowledge role.

An executive or manager will need to have supervisory experience in his/her role overseas for some sort of professional staff. Additionally, someone with specialized knowledge must have advanced skills for a company in product services, research, proprietary techniques or procedures.

This category is a little more broad and an immigration attorney is always a good starting point if you are unclear as to if you can transfer a certain employee or not. Once a transferee employee has reached his/her maximum allowable stay under an L-1 visa the employee must then be employed outside the U.S. for one year before being eligible for a new L-1 visa.

Other Popular Work Visas in the United States:

H-1B Visa - Specialty Occupation Worker (skilled worker)

L-1 Visa - Intra-company Transferee

B-1 Visa - Business visitors

J-1 Visa - Exchange Visitor Program

Green Card - Permanent Residence to live and work in the U.S.


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