L-1A Visa – Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

The L-1A visa program allows multinational companies to transfer executives or managers from their foreign offices to their US offices. It is for certain executives and managers. The US congress designed it to facilitate the temporary transfer of key personnel within an international company’s corporate structure, promoting the growth and efficient operations of businesses. 

This classification also enables a foreign company that 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. 

For filing an L-1A petition the petitioner and beneficiary must meet certain requirements. They are as follows:

  1. The U.S. and foreign entity must have a qualifying relationship, such as being a parent company, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office
  2. 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
  3. The position must be in an executive or manager capacity within the organization, and
  4. The beneficiary must have been employed by the foreign entity for at least one continuous year within the last three years preceding the submission of the application for the L-1A benefit.

New Offices:

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.

The visa benefit is for temporary employment in the US. It could be extended for a maximum of seven years for executives and managers. The L-1A visa allows for “dual intent,” meaning the visa holder can pursue lawful permanent resident status (green card) while on an L-1A visa status.

The difference between executives and managers is that an executive has the authority to make decisions about the company’s policies and operations, while a manager oversees an essential function or department. However, the executive or managerial capacity requires a certain level of authority and could sometimes consist of a mix of job duties. Managerial positions can be subdivided into two main types – function managers and personnel managers.

Positions with duties of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the organization’s major functions and working with other employees to achieve the organization’s goals mostly would fall under executives and managers.

The same definitions apply to the nature of the beneficiary’s positions abroad and in the United States. However, in some instances, the beneficiary may have worked abroad in more than one capacity. It should be noted that the beneficiary need not perform the same work in the United States that they performed abroad.

The determination of the executive or managerial is done by the USCIS upon looking at the duties mentioned the petition. The duties should mostly relate to operational or policy management and not general managerial duties like supervision of nonprofessional employees, performance of the duties of another type of position, or involvement in the other operational activities of the organization. However, in some instances certain managerial positions require a manager to apply his/her technical or professional expertise on an incidental basis from time to time.

Some factors in determining executive or managerial job duties may include the petitioner’s business nature and scope, organizational structure, staffing levels, beneficiary’s position, and authority, etc.

A L-1 beneficiary may own the US organization or the foreign entity in whole or in part. However, to qualify the beneficiary must hold a position and work primarily engage in the management of the organization.

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay:

Initial Period of Stay: Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. 

All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. 

Extension of Stay: For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.

Family of L-1 Workers:

Spouses of L-1A and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for L-2 visas generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.

Spouses of L-1A visa holders may also be eligible to apply for work authorization.

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