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L-1B Intra-company Transferee Visas                                                                       

Visa Type

This visa is for intra-company transferees employed in professional positions requiring specialized knowledge that can ordinarily be gained only through employment within the company or a parent, affiliate, branch or subsidiary of the company.

Who Qualifies

Applicants who are professionals – generally those who hold at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent – and others who hold specialized knowledge of the company’s products, equipment, technology, processes, or procedures may qualify for an L-1B visa if they have previously been employed with the 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 professional capacity that requires them to use their specialized knowledge.


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

Time Limitation

An L-1B can be approved for up to a 3-year period and can be extended for an additional 2 years, for a total stay of 5 years.  Additional extensions beyond the fifth year are not available, though time spent outside the United States during the 5-year period may be “recaptured” and added to the end of the 5-year period by filing an extension proving the 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-1B nonimmigrants may have “dual intent,” meaning they may seek to pursue permanent residency in the United States while otherwise maintaining their L-1B status.

Petition Requirement

Unless the petition employer has an approved “Blanket L” petition, an L-1B 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-1B in Greater Detail

The L-1B category is used to transfer employees from a related entity outside the United States to a qualifying specialized knowledge professional position with the company in the United States.  Others who are not professionals but have highly specialized knowledge may also qualify.  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 a specialized knowledge professional.

Specialized knowledge is special knowledge possessed by the foreign worker of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets; or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise of processes and procedures of the company.

Generally speaking, to qualify as having specialized knowledge, the individual’s knowledge must be unique, greater than, or more advanced than knowledge held by others within the company or those employed in similar positions with other companies in the industry.

L-1B status is limited to five (5) years.  The initial period is granted for 3 years, with one 2-year extension.  Only time physically present in the U.S. in L-1 status (or prior H-1B status, if applicable) counts against the five-year limitation, so absences from the U.S. may be “recaptured” to extend L-1B status beyond the fifth year.  The L-1B 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

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