San Diego L-1 Visa Immigration Lawyers

The L non-immigrant visa category is useful for international companies to bring foreign employees to the United States on a temporary basis. Foreign business owners often use the L visa to set up a related or unrelated U.S. business.

If the need later becomes permanent, then the company can usually petition for the executive or manager to become a permanent resident. This is one of the easiest ways to obtain permanent residency without labor certification. It is used to transfer employees from a foreign company to a “related” U.S. company. The maximum time period for L-1a classification (managers and executives) is 7 years. It can be used for executives and managers. Employees with specialized knowledge are eligible for L-1b classification and can be on L-1b status for a maximum of 5 years. (Classification as an executive or manager is recommended if permanent residency is contemplated in the future).

Family members are eligible for L-2 classification and the spouse may also apply for an open-market work permit.

General Requirements to obtain a L-1 Visa:

  • The foreign worker must have worked full-time for the foreign company for a period of one (1) year out of the last three (3) years prior to the filing of the Petition.
  • The U.S. company must be “related” to foreign company. One of the following meets the definition of “related”:
    • Both U.S. and foreign company are branch offices of the same corporation; or
    • U.S. company owns more than 50% of overseas company; or
    • Overseas company owns more than 50% of US company; or
    • Both the U.S. company and overseas company are majority-owned (more than 50%) by a third company or by the same individual or group of individuals. (Note: same group of shareholders must own a controlling interest with each shareholder in the group holding approximately the same proportion; but shareholders of each business do not have to be identical); or
    • The U.S. company is a joint venture (50% owned by each of 2 companies) or U.S. company is one of the joint venturers (50% owner) from which the transferee will come. (Note: either joint venturer may make a transfer between itself and the joint venture company because each company effectively has control of joint venture).
  • Employee to be transferred must have been employed abroad as an executive, manager or individual with specialized knowledge in foreign company.
  • Employee must be coming to the U.S. company to fill an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position.
  • Foreign company must continue to operate while the foreign worker is transferred to U.S. company (i.e. alien can’t just “transfer” self from small business and shut that business down).
  • Employee must be qualified for a position in the U.S. company by virtue of his or her education and/or experience.
  • L-1 foreign national must intend to depart U.S. upon completion of authorized stay (up to 7 years for an L-1a or 5 years for an L-1b) but may pursue permanent residence at the same time.

Miscellaneous Rules About L-1 Visas

1. You may set up a new company in the U.S. to transfer to but then NEW OFFICE Rules apply (see below).

2. There is no minimum investment amount.

3. It is permissible to come to the U.S. part-time, but previous one year abroad must be full-time.

4. The source of the remuneration is not important, but the company must show it’s ability to pay the beneficiary’s salary. This can be paid by U.S. company or by foreign company.

5. Initial application for an L-1 may be for up to 3 years (unless NEW OFFICE then 1 year).

6. NEW OFFICE Rules:

  • L-1 only granted for one year.
  • Can’t apply for permanent residency until after one year.
  • At end of one year will need to renew L-1 and can also apply for permanent residency, USCIS will scrutinize new U.S. company to see if there is an increased number of employees or increased revenues.
    • Must show both companies are “doing business”;
    • Must show staffing levels of U.S. office;
    • Must show ability to pay foreign worker’s salary;
    • Must show duties of foreign worker and business plan; and
    • Must show financial status of U.S.company.

As needed Feldman Feldman & Associates will work with corporate and tax attorneys to establish the appropriate business entity for immigration and business purposes, advise you on tax ramifications, develop business plans, and coordinate with your accountants. This legal expertise is available in our immigration law firm for California businesses. If the business is out of state then we will work with a business attorney in the State where the business will be located. Contact an immigration attorney to analyze your specific situation to see if it will qualify and if the L-1 visa is the right category for you.  Here is more information on other non-immigrant visas, green cards through an employer, and green cards through a family member.