L1 Visa - Requirements and Application

L1 Visa


The L1 visa is an intra-company transfer US visa. It allows a US company to transfer a key employee from one of its offices in another country into the United States.

It also allows companies to open a US operation for the transfer of its executives, managers and specialized employees.

There are two types of L1 visa:

  • L1-A is for managers and executives, who are either transferring to a US office, or coming into the US for the purposes of setting up a US office.
  • L1-B is for specialized employees, who have essential specialist skills or knowledge.

In either case, it is the employer (“petitioning employer”) that submits the visa application.

L1 Visa

For both L1-A and L1-B, the employee must have worked for the corporation  for one continuous twelve-month period in the previous 36 months.

The L1-A visa grants a maximum stay of up to 7 years. L1-B grants up to 5 years. However, if the employee has previously worked in the US under an H visa, that time may be deducted from the allowed stay.

L1 Visa Requirements

  1. The petitioning company may be a corporation, charity (or other non-profit organization), or a religious organization. Other types of qualifying entities may also be permitted.
  2. The petitioning employer (in the US) must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. Types of qualifying relationships include: parent company, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.
  3. The employer must be doing business as an employer in the US and in at least one foreign country. This means they are actively and continually delivering goods or services, simply having an office does not qualify.
  4. The employee must have completed a minimum of one year’s continuous employment for the company outside of the US within the three years immediately prior to the application. Any time spent working in the United States will not count towards the twelve months.
  5. The employee must intend to leave the United States at the end of the visa term.

Strategy Notes

The size of the company with regard to number of employees and revenues are considered. To establish an executive role, a company must have three tiers of employees, managers may need two or three tiers of employment.

Business Plans with projections are important evidence and must comply with the case of Matter of Ho elements (reference).

Executives who are sole owners of companies can still meet the requirements but must establish employee status.

Making an L1 Application

Unless the petitioning company is already established and well-known, it may be necessary to provide extensive documentation to prove that the requirements are being met.

For the L1-A visa, you may need to provide evidence that the employee occupies an executive or managerial role.

For L1-B, you may need to provide evidence to prove the employee’s level of skill, knowledge, or experience. This should be “specialized knowledge”, which means that their knowledge is not commonplace either within the industry or within the organization. The knowledge may relate to a wide range of topics including technology, services, or company processes.

We strongly recommend you have a strategy session with one of our attorneys to understand what you may be required to present.

L-1A Attorney Tips

L-1B Tips

L1 Blanket Petitions

Large companies who are likely to want to move significant numbers of employees to the US may choose to apply for a blanket petition. This does not mean that the company can then move as many employees as they wish, as each will require a separate L1 visa application, but it does mean that the company relationships are already established, which can reduce the time, costs, and  risk of any subsequent L1 applications.

To qualify for an L1 Blanket Petition, the company must:

  • have at least three offices, whether in the US or abroad;
  • have an office that has been doing business in the US for at least one year;
  • plus meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • have filed at least ten successful L1 petitions in the preceding twelve months;
    • have minimum 1000 employees based in the US;
    • and be able to show company-wide total annual sales of at least US$25 million.

Alternatives to the L1 Visa?

  • The only directly comparable temporary work visa for people looking at L1 visas is probably H1-B (specialty occupation), which has a maximum 3-year stay plus one possible 3-year extension (less than the 7 years available for L1-A).

There are several feasible permanent residency options (Green Cards):

  • The L1 is most similar to the EB1-3 visa (Green Card for multinational executive).
    • There is an important prerequisite that the beneficiary must have worked for a US company for one year in recent years (?).
  • Other Green Cards for which an L1 applicant might eligible include:
    • EB2 (advanced degree / exceptional ability),
    • EB3 (skilled worker or professional),
    • EB1-1 (extraordinary ability).
  • Someone considering the L1-A (executive) option may also be eligible for EB5 investor Green Card.
  • Those considering the L1-B route are not typically eligible for the EB1-3 (Multinational exec.) as they are in a non-executive capacity. However, if they were in that executive capacity in their country of origin and came into the US in that capacity, they might be eligible for the EB1-3 Green Card.

Book Your Personal Visa Strategy Session

Complete the short form and one of our team will get in touch shortly to set up your visa strategy session with an immigration attorney.

Related Episodes from The Immigration Show

Developing a Business Immigration Plan

U.S. Visas for the Tech Industry

L1 Visa FAQs

Q: Must the company already have a US office?

A: No. It is permissible to transfer a manager or executive to the United States for the purposes of setting up a US office.

Q: Can the employee’s family also stay in the United States?

A: Yes, the employee’s spouse and any unmarried children under 21 may stay under an L-2 visa. The spouse may also work in the US.

Q: Can an employee switch jobs or employers?

A: Yes, it may be possible to work for a new employer provided they obtain a new visa, such as H1.

Q: Can an employee do other work?

A: No, under the terms of an L1 visa, the employee must only work for the petitioning employer.

L1 Visa Questions Answered

“Can I-765 (EAD renewal) be approved for L2 while I-539 (I-94 extension of stay) is pending based on spouse’s (L1A) I-94 which is already valid for the next 2 years?”

In a word, yes. If the extension of the L-2 was filed prior to expiration, it remains in the L-2 status until a decision is made or 240 days. Therefore, as a spouse of an L-1, the spouse is entitled to apply for and received an EAD card during the pending period.

“Can an L-1A to EB1 GC be possible after 3 years of tenure in the US?”

You may qualify for the EB1-2 visa (Green Card), which is the academic equivalent of the EB1-1.

The EB2 is a permanent residency US visa (Green Card) that enables the most outstanding professors or researchers in their fields to live and work permanently in the United States. To qualify, you must:

  1. Provide evidence of international recognition for outstanding performance in their particular academic field.
  2. Have at least 3 years’ experience in either teaching or research in the same academic area.
  3. Be seeking to enter the U.S. in order to pursue tenure or tenure-track teaching or research position at a university or comparable educational institution.
  4. Evidence provided must meet at least 2 out of 6 criteria set by USCIS. (Your immigration attorney will help you establish this.)

The EB1-2 is one of the more sought after green cards because it has current priority dates and has a high bar for qualification as applications are carefully scrutinized.

Also see…

Book Your Personal Visa Strategy Session

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Leave a Comment:

Sathish says December 18, 2016

Short L1-1 A


I am a partner / Major share holder in  various companies in India operating successfully with proven track record in various Verticals including Textile machinery, Wind Power Generation and Business process outsourcing, Our Aim is to start an office in USA, that would help us strengthen our company in India by identifying more suitable trading-partners for our business in USA.

We request your assistance by please suggesting me (by reviewing An excel sheet containing details of the various companies, I own/ a major shareholder of) which company would be suitable to be the parent company (Indian Sponsor Company) in processing an L1-A application for my self,

So, my Individual income tax return is very healthy. My personal income tax would have the revenues and profits of both STM (Indian company ) and also EXO(UAE COmpany) combined together and offered in 1 balance sheet because EXO 100% shares are owned by me and is an extension of myself abroad.

SO my question is can my personal name “individual name company” be the parent company and sponsor me to relocate to USA on L1-A visa to set up an office in USA, to expand our sourcing of cotton fibre and textile machinery from USA under L1-A. Please note that the company “STM” and Exordior in UAE would continue to remain if I moved to USA. But note that I have not be drawing a salary on my personal level because I never felt a necessity to do so, because all the revenues were already residing in my personal name.

Can the Indian parent companies (all which I am either 100% or majority share holder) sponsor me collectively to set up an office in USA, because all their activities would be carried out in the USA office.

The USA office would cater to all my group companies, the activities that would be carried by the USA entity would be the following activities. I can send you a detailed email upon your interest to proceed further.





Business process outsouring

To SUM it up, collectively including all the above businesses we can employ a total of the below mentioned US eligible manpower in USA :-

1st year 2 persons
2nd year 3 persons
3 Rd year 4 persons

The above would be the total projected growth size of the USA office (one we would like to set up), would this be enough to satisfy the L1-1A visa requirements?


Sathish Kumaar

Marilda Bardhi says March 24, 2017

We are from albania, balkan. We have established a new company in america and we want to apply for L1 A visa. Who can apply for this kind of visa and how is the process to do that.
In albania we have business under construction for 22 years.

    Parker Blackburn says March 24, 2017

    Hello Marilda!

    Thanks for visiting. If you e-mail me at parker.blackburn@onlinevisas.com we can set up a free strategy session with one of our attorneys to find the best route for you!


Chetu Inc says March 18, 2019

I have a question where I would like to take your advice.
We have many team members who are currently on EB2 visa queue and in the past they migrated from EB3 to EB2.
As they had approved EB3 in the past and EB3 is much more ahead of EB2. Is it possible for these member to go ahead in EB3 queue?

In 2011/2012 these members migrated from EB3 to EB2.

    Elizabeth Rudolph says December 20, 2019

    Hello, thank you for your interest in Online Visas. Please email information@velielaw.com to schedule your free strategy session with one of our attorneys. At that time they will go over your options with you and the best path to a visa, answer any questions you may have, and also discuss costs!

Sandip Chhabra says June 23, 2019

My name is Sandip Chhabra CEO of Saiom International, I started this company in year 1999. My wife Mrs Renu Chhabra is the proprietor in this company.

We are exporting Auto Parts from India to USA, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Hondurus, Dominicana Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay since 1999.

Since we are exporting products for American Trailers and Trucks. We strongly feel there is huge potential to grow our business, if we start a small office and then warehousing the material in USA for distribution in USA as well as to central American countries.

Our choice of location is New Jersey as well Doral, Miami where large of similar companies operate.

With our expertise and experience and also large client base, we are very sure we can double our existing business in short time.

We are currently exporting goods worth USD 500,000 to these markets. We know that we are very very small entity but our current range of products has potential to grow at very fast rate.

For this reason, I am writing to you, please advise us can a small company like ours with track record of 20 years, can open an small office in USA with L1A visa.

I will be grateful to you for your advise.


Sandip Chhabra

    Elizabeth Rudolph says December 20, 2019

    Hello, thank you for your interest in Online Visas. Please email information@velielaw.com to schedule your free strategy session with one of our attorneys. At that time they will go over your options with you and the best path to a visa, answer any questions you may have, and also discuss costs!

andreewrussell says September 23, 2019

Hello, thanks for sharing the blog about the L1 Visa. This blog is providing good information about it. I found lots of good information on this blog. Keep posting such a useful blog with us.


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