L-1 is a nonimmigrant classification issued by USCIS to intra-company transferees, i.e., those who come to the United States to continue to work for the same company (employer) or its affiliate/subsidiary/branch, or a company that has a qualifying relationship. Such qualifying relationship must continue during the whole period of transfer. That is, the transferring company overseas must continue to do business overseas during the entire period of the beneficiary's stay in the U.S. as L-1 transferee.
L-1A category is available for those in managerial/executive capacity and L-1B is for those who would be employed in specialized knowledge capacity.
If the petition is for L1B status, prospective employment in the U.S. must involve the use of specialized knowledge. "Specialized knowledge" is defined as the individual's special knowledge about the petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures.
The prospective L-1 employee must have been employed abroad with an affiliate, parent, branch, or subsidiary of the petitioning U.S. company for a continuous period of one year within the three years prior to filing the petition or entry into the U.S. This period of employment abroad must have been in either managerial/executive or specialized knowledge capacity.
L-1 status is generally approved for an initial period of three years. However, if the U.S. employer is a start-up company, L-1 status is originally granted for only one year. L1A (manager/executive) status can be extended up to a statutory limit of seven years; L1B (specialized knowledge) status is limited to a total of five years.
Documentation must be submitted to show that the petitioning company is doing sufficient business in the United States to support the employment of the L-1 foreign national.
The L1 petition has to be filed by the U.S. company with the Regional Service Center of the Immigration & Naturalization Service having jurisdiction over the place of employment. Once the petition is approved, the approval is sent to the U.S. Consulate overseas where the beneficiary can obtain the L1 visa to enter the U.S.
Under the law, the L-1A or L-1B transferee must intend to depart the United States upon completion of his/her authorized stay (including extensions), but may also pursue permanent residence (green card) at the same time.
If certain conditions are met, the Petitioner may apply for blanker L-1 approvals.
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