The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
To qualify for L-1 classification, the employer must:
· Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate), and
· Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
A successful L-1A beneficiary must have been employed abroad continuously for one (1) of the previous three (3) years by a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the U.S. company as a manager or executive or in a capacity involving specialized knowledge.
An employee functioning in a managerial capacity is likely someone who:
· Manages the organization, department, subdivision, function, or component;
· Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization or department or subdivision of the organization;
· Has authority to hire and fire or recommend personnel actions; and,
· Exercises discretion over day-to-day operations.
An employee functioning in an executive capacity is likely someone who:
· Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function;
· Formulates goals and policies;
· Possesses wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and,
· Receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, board of directors, or other governing body.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
· The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
· The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
· The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one (1) year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three (3) years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two (2) years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven (7) years. The
transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. The L-2 spouse may obtain an Employment Authorization and work legally in the U.S.