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Does an L-1 applicant need to do the same work in the U.S. that they did abroad?

By November 28, 2022Immigration, L-1 Visa
A woman working from her office

The L-1 visa allows U.S. companies that have a qualifying relationship with a company abroad to transfer an employee to the U.S. if the employee has worked for the company abroad for at least one continuous year within the past three years in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge role. Both the U.S. and foreign company must show they are doing business, although it is also possible to apply for an L-1 visa to open a new office in the U.S.

What if the L-1 applicant was a manager in the company abroad and is being transferred to the U.S. to work in an executive role? Is this allowed?

A common question we receive is whether the L-1 applicant can perform a different role in the U.S. The answer is yes, the applicant can perform a different role in the U.S. than the one they were performing abroad. There is no requirement that the applicant be transferred to the U.S. to hold the exact same role that they held abroad. However, the jobs must each qualify under one of the L-1 categories: executive, manager or specialized knowledge worker.

Are there any additional requirements to meet if the job in the U.S. is different than the job the applicant held while abroad?

The requirements are the same, however, if the applicant is being transferred to the U.S. to perform a substantially different job than the one they held abroad, you should add additional documents to prove that the applicant has the education, training and/or employment experience to qualify them for the new position in the U.S.

If the applicant held a specialized knowledge role abroad and is coming to the U.S. as a manager, will they apply for an L-1A or L-1B?

The determination of whether to apply for an L-1A or L-1B depends on what type of role the applicant will hold in the U.S. If they will be a specialized knowledge worker in the U.S., they should apply for an L-1B. If they will be a manager or executive in the U.S., they should apply for an L-1A.

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