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The L-1A Visa: Who Qualifies

The L-1A Visa is a special non-immigrant classification which allows an organization to bring a non-US citizen employee to the United States for the purposes of providing managerial functions to an existing US office or to assist in setting up a new office in the US. For a comprehensive look at the L Visa, download our free guide. 

This specific visa is exclusively for managers and executives, so general employees would not qualify for this status.

In order to qualify for the L-1A classification, the employer needs to have an existing qualifying relationship with a foreign company.  This could be a parent company, a branch office, a subsidiary, or an affiliate company.  The company must be currently doing business as an employer in the United States or plan on starting its business as an employer as soon a new office is opened.

Qualifications for L-1 Visa

In addition to the above mentioned qualifications required by the employer, the employee must meet a few minimum requirements.  Specifically, they must:

  • Have been working for the organization in the foreign country for a minimum of one continuous year out of the past three years.
  • Be either currently serving as an executive or manager, or be slated to serve as an executive or manager in their new role.

Employees who are sent to the United States to establish a new office for the company are initially granted the ability to stay for a maximum of one year.  Those who are coming to the US to manage at an existing office are given the ability to stay for a maximum initial period of three years.  All L-1A visa employees may then apply for extensions, which are given in two year increments, up to the total maximum of seven years. Additional employees can be hired on the L-1B visa, with similar provisions.

Bringing Family to the United States on L-2 Visa

The employee has the option to bring his or her family along with them when approved.  The family includes a spouse as well as any unmarried children who are 21 years old or younger.  Each family member must complete a L-2 nonimmigrant visa, and get it approved, in order to accompany the L-1A employee.  Another advantage for L-2 spouses is their eligibility to apply for an Employment Authorization Document valid for the validity of their L-2 status.  This EAD will allow the L-2 spouse to work for any employer in any capacity in the US.

As with all immigration processes, it is essential that each step is completed properly in order to avoid complications or delays. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how your organization could leverage L-1A employees, I’m here to help. Please contact me today to discuss your business immigration needs!