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L-1A Intra-company Transferee Visas

Visa Type

This visa is for intra-company transferees employed in managerial or executive positions who have previously been employed in a qualifying capacity abroad with a parent, affiliate, branch or subsidiary of the company.

Who Qualifies

Applicants who are qualified will be employed in the U.S. as managers – either managing direct reports or an essential function – and who were employed in a qualifying managerial, executive or specialized knowledge position with a company outside the United States in a qualifying capacity for at least one year, and will be coming to the United States for employment in a managerial or executive position.           

Quota

There is no quota applicable to the L-1A visa category.

Time Limitation

An L-1A can be approved for up to a 3-year period and can be extended for two additional 2-year periods, for a total stay of 7 years.  Additional extensions beyond the seventh year are not available, though time spent outside the United States during the 7-year period may be “recaptured” and added to the end of the 7-year period by filing an extension proving these days spent outside the United States.

Dependent Work Authorization

L-2 spouses may apply for work authorization after they have entered the United States in L-2 status.

Dual Intent

L-1A nonimmigrants may have “dual intent,” meaning they may seek to pursue permanent residency in the United States while otherwise maintaining their L-1A status.

Petition Requirement

Unless the petitioning employer has an approved “Blanket L” petition, an L-1A petition must be filed with USCIS.  If the petitioning employer has an approved Blanket L petition, an applicant may present his or her application directly at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate without first filing a petition and securing approval from USCIS.

L-1A in Greater Detail

The L-1A category is used to transfer employees from a related entity outside the United States to a qualifying managerial or executive position with the company in the United States.  The applicant must:  (1) have been employed outside the U.S. by an affiliate, subsidiary, branch or parent of a U.S. company, (2) for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding the filing of a petition or for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding admission to the U.S. if filing the petition while the foreign worker is in the U.S., (3) in a capacity that qualifies as executive (L-1A), managerial or functional manager (L-1A) or specialized knowledge (L-1B), and (4) who will perform services for the U.S. company as manager or executive.

Managerial capacity is a role in which the employee:

     a. Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function or component of the organization;

     b. Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;

     c. If another employee or other employees are directly supervised, has authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and

     d. Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.

Executive capacity is a role in which the employee:

     a. Directs the management of the organization, major component, or function;

     b. Establishes goals and policies of the organization, component or function;

     c. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

     d. Receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

An individual will not be considered to be acting in a managerial or executive capacity merely on the basis of the number of employees that the individual supervises, has supervised, directs or has directed.  When reviewing the petition, USCIS takes into account the reasonable needs of the organization, component, or function in light of the overall purpose and stage of development of the organization, component, or function. 

Generally speaking, to qualify as a functional manager, the petitioner must demonstrate that the function is essential to the organization and that the manager functions at a high level within the organization with respect to the function managed.  To qualify as a manager based on the supervision of other employees, those employees must be professional employees, which generally means they must hold at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

L-1A status is limited to seven (7) years.  The initial period is granted for 3 years, with two, 2-year extensions available.  Only time physically present in the U.S. in L-1 status (or prior H-1B status, if applicable) counts against the seven-year limitation, so absences from the U.S. may be “recaptured” to extend L-1A status beyond the seventh year.  The L-1A visa may be used on a commuter or intermittent basis.

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 are eligible for L-2 dependent visa status.  L-2 spouses may apply for employment authorization once they have entered the U.S. in L-2 status.  L-2 children are not authorized to apply for work authorization.

If you would like further information, please contact Foster LLP at 713-229-8733 (Houston, TX), or at 512-478-9475 (Austin, TX) or email a consultation request through our website at www.fosterglobal.com.

This article is made available for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.