Non-Immigrant Visas - L-1 Intracompany Transferees
This status is available to individuals who wish to transfer to the United States. on a temporary basis to continue employment with a branch of his or same employer or a parent, affiliate or subsidiary of that employer in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity. L‑1 status is generally granted for an initial three years which can be extended for a total of seven years for individuals employed as managers or executives. Individuals holding this status based upon specialized knowledge are limited to a total stay of five years. For those individuals opening a new office, the initial authorization is only for 1 year. Individuals classified as manager or executive are designated as L-1A; individuals classified with specialized knowledge are designated as L-1B. When the proper relationship exists, the L-1A alternative should be explored in detail because intracompany transferees in executive or managerial positions enjoy a much easier route to permanent residence.
To be eligible for L status, the individual must have been employed abroad for a total of one year during the three years immediately preceding the filing of the petition with a subsidiary or affiliate of the company in a similar position to which he is requesting a transfer. The regulations which define “managerial,” “executive,” and “specialized knowledge” are listed below.
This process is initiated by filing Form I‑129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, in duplicate. An Affidavit would be included from the employer providing information about the employer, the position and the individual. It would also be necessary to file supporting documents pertaining to the individual, and documents evidencing the relationship between the two entities involved.
The definition of a “qualifying relationship” between the foreign and U.S. entities to support a transfer under this category is somewhat complex and must be explained on a case-by-case basis. The relationship between the two entities must involve some common stock ownership and effective control. Associations between companies based on factors such as ownership of a small amount of stock in another company (less than 50%), exchange of products or services, licensing or franchise agreements, membership on board of directors, or the formation of consortiums or cartels do not create affiliate relationships between entities for L purposes.
Managerial capacity means an assignment with the organization in which the employee personally:
- 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 (if another directly supervises employees), or if no direct supervision, functions at a senior level; and
- Exercises discretion over day to day operations of the activity or function.
First-line supervisors are not considered managers unless the employees they supervised are professional.
Executive capacity means an assignment in an organization in which the employee primarily:
- Directs the management or the organization or a component or function;
- Establishes goals and policies;
- Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision making; and
- Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors or stockholders.
Specialized knowledge is defined to include a person who “had special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company.” Specialized knowledge is not simply a skilled worker, rather someone whose advanced level of knowledge of expertise and proprietary knowledge of the employer organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other activity is not readily available in the U.S. labor market. Characteristics of an employee with “specialized knowledge” include:
- Possesses knowledge that is valuable to the employer's competitiveness in the market place;
- Is uniquely qualified to contribute to the U.S. employer's knowledge of foreign operating conditions;
- Has been utilized as a key employee abroad and has been given significant assignments which have enhanced the employer's productivity, competitiveness, image or financial position; and
- Possesses knowledge which can be gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.
Please contact us or schedule an initial consultation for further information.