L-1 Visa Lawyer Assisting Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Intracompany Transfers

To understand the L-1 Visa, it is important to realize that it is considered a non-immigrant visa. This means that it is NOT designed to directly provide the person holding the L-1 with permanent residency in the United States. However, it is important to note that holding a particular L-1 Visa can lead to a permanent residency green card and ultimately United States citizenship.

The L-1 is designed to allow a company doing business outside of the U.S. to open or acquire a United States subsidiary and transfer key employees to operate and manage the American subsidiary. The foreign parent company must own at least 51% of the US subsidiary or some form of common ownership must be established. The US subsidiary can be a "start-up" in the United States or it can be an existing US company acquired by the parent company. If all the basic requirements are met, that we will discuss later in this report, employees of the parent company may come to the United States to manage and operate the United States subsidiary for a period of up to seven years. With proper planning the United States subsidiary of the parent company can serve as the source of a green card for the designated executive or manager at a later date.

The total length of the stay under the L-1 depends on whether the employee being transferred to the United States is classified as an executive/managerial role or is a possessor of special knowledge. If it is an executive/managerial employee the L-1 has a total duration of seven years. If the person is in a non-managerial/executive capacity, but possesses a specialized knowledge, the L-1 is limited to a total of five years.

Will an L-1 potentially lead to a Green Card ? The answer is yes, L-1 foreign nationals who are managers and executives under the L-1 program are eligible for the "priority workers" Employment Based Green Card category. Foreign citizens falling into this category may apply for permanent residency without having to go through the arduous labor certification process required with most other employment based green card applications.

L-1 executives and managers interested in pursuing permanent residency in the priority worker category will have to meet the same basic requirements that they met under their L-1 status. This requires a petition to show that the company that the applicant works for is a "qualifying organization" where it is doing business at least in the US and in one foreign country. One would also need to show that in the past three years the applicant must have worked abroad for at least one year in a manager or executive capacity. 

For more L visa related information please feel free to read our other L visa articles.

Vaughan de Kirby
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San Francisco California EB-5 Investment Immigration Attorney

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