Start a New Company or Transfer Employees to Affiliate Company in the United States through L Visa Category

L Visa is a brilliant tool for intracompany transfer of employees by a foreign company to its affiliate, subsidiary or branch in the United States. This visa is categorized as non-immigrant visa and can also be used by a foreign company that intends to start a new office in the United States. Companies with trade secrets that wish to start a new office in the US without worrying about revealing its trade secrets to unfamiliar new employees in the US, can transfer its employee from its home country through L Visa to start the new company in the US, thereby protecting its trade secrets.

Classifications of L Visa

L visa has two categories which are L-1A and L-1B.

L-1A Visa

This category allows a company to transfer its manager or executive from a foreign country to its affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. It also allows company that does not have an affiliate or subsidiary in the US to send its manager or executive to start a new company in the United States. For this purpose, managerial duties can be described as ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees in the organization, direct the affairs of the organization or any department, subdivision, function or component of the organization freely without direct supervision. A person who is hired to direct an essential function of a company at a high level, without direct supervision, also qualifies under this classification as a manager.

An executive can be described, for this purpose, as someone who has the ability to make wide range or essential decisions without supervision.

Eligibility for L-1A Visa

To be eligible under this classification, you must:

  • Have been an employee of a qualifying company abroad for one continuous year in the last three years immediately before your admission to the United States; working in a managerial or executive capacity; and
  • Be coming to the United States to serve the organization, its branch, affiliate or subsidiary in managerial or executive capacity.

L-1B Visa

This category allows a company to transfer a professional employee with specialized skills or knowledge from its affiliate abroad to the United States for the purpose of using the specialized knowledge for the benefit of the company in the United States. A foreign company, that does not have an affiliate in the United States yet, can send an employee with specialized knowledge to establish an affiliate in the United States under this classification. Specialized knowledge, for this purpose, can be described as advanced knowledge or expertise in the company’s processes and procedures, employee’s knowledge of employer’s business, products, techniques, services, research, equipment, management, or markets.

Eligibility for L-1B Visa

To be eligible under this classification, you must:

  • Have been an employee of a qualifying company abroad for one continuous year in the last three years immediately before your admission to the United States; and
  • Be coming to the United States to work for the same employer or its affiliate with your specialized knowledge.

Requirements for Establishing New Offices

Foreign employer who wants to send its employee to establish a new office must prove that:

  • It has a physical location for new office.
  • The employee has been working with the employer in managerial or executive capacity at least one continuous year within the last three years before filing the petition; and
  • The new affiliate in the US will support the foreign company in managerial or executive capacity within one year of the approval of the visa petition.

How to File L Visa

The employer (petitioner) must:

  • File a properly completed and signed Form I-129
  • Attach copies of all required and supporting documents with the application.
  • Pay applicable filling fee.

After the USCIS has received your application, your employer will be sent the receipt notice of your L visa petition, notice of biometric service, if applicable to your case, notice to appear for an interview and a notice of decision on your petition.

Can Your Family Travel with You?

Yes, your spouse, unmarried children under 21 years and legal dependents can travel with you to the US through L-2 visa. Your family will be able to legally work and study in the United States without the need to acquire F-1 status.

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