Immigration to USA > US Temporary Residence > L-1 (Intra-company Transfers)
The key requirements to obtain an L-1 Visa are that the managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge employee is required to have been employed outside the United States continuously for at least a period of one year within the three-year period preceding their application. Once again, the relationship between the foreign and American employer must be that of a branch, parent, affiliate or subsidiary. Clear documentation outlining the ownership and control relationship between the American and foreign entity is typically required.
This category is for those who have been employed outside of the United States in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity and are being transferred from or to a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of their foreign employer to take up employment in a similar position in the United States.
This visa allows companies to transfer personnel who are familiar with their international operations, to assist their U.S. operations. It also allows for start-up situations in which a foreign company wishes to transfer personnel to the United States to commence business operations in the United States, so long as the foreign enterprise continues to operate. L-1 status can typically be granted for an initial period of three years, although this is frequently shortened to one year in start-up scenarios. Such status can be extended for a total maximum of seven years for those in L-1A status (i.e. managers and executives) and a maximum period of five years for those in L-1B status (i.e. specialized knowledge employees). This visa is also a “dual intent” visa which potentially allows for a permanent residence application to be made while in L status.
At least one year of employment abroad is required. In addition, relatively small operations abroad are subject to greater scrutiny when U.S. immigration authorities are determining whether to issue such a visa.
Under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian citizens can make application at a port-of-entry or, in the alternative, to a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) Regional Service Center. Non-Canadian nationals must make an application through a BCIS Regional Service Center, in advance, and are subject to visa issuance by the appropriate Consulate or Embassy based on approval at a U.S. Regional Service Center.
Our lawyers can discuss your business needs to determine if the L category is appropriate for you. We can assist and prepare all submission materials and advise as to the appropriate place of application, whether it be at a port-of-entry, pre-flight inspection or BCIS Regional Service Center. We also prepare applicants for interviews or to make application at port-of-entry or pre-flight inspection.
Interested in setting up a branch operation of your business in the USA?
HR professionals and other individuals interested in learning more about this process can read our Corporate Relocation Quarterly, a review of current developments in Canadian and American immigration law relating to the international relocation of human resources. The articles are written by the lawyers and attorneys of Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell and are intended for lawyers, immigration professionals, human resources personnel and other consumers of professional immigration services.