Q: What are the differences between an L1A and L1B visa?
The L1A visa is used by managers and executives, and the L1B visa is used for “professionals with specialized knowledge.” Managers supervise the work of others or oversee a function of a department in the company, and executives direct the management of the company at the most senior level. Professionals with specialized knowledge are employees with particular skills or knowledge about the foreign company’s key operations that are difficult to replace.
L1A and L1B visa holders have different maximum periods of stay. L1A holders can stay in the United States for as long as 7 years. L1B holders can only stay for up to 5 years. Before the end of the 5-year period, provided they meet the qualifications, it is possible for L1B holders to convert to an L1A status if approved, they will be allowed to stay in the United States for 2 more years.
Q: Can the L-1 visa category be used by non-profit organizations?
Yes – the relevant issue is whether the organization is “doing business as an employer,” which is defined as the “regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services.” 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(L)(3).
Q: What are the financial requirements for a “new office” L1?
Although there is no specific minimum revenue or hiring numbers stated in the regulations, every “new office” L1 petition will need to show sufficient investment and financial ability of the foreign business to support the position. After the petition is approved, if the business has not grown within 1 year to a degree to support the employee or executive and preferably a number of additional employees, it may be difficult to further extend the L1 status.
Q: Can an employee, manager, or executive applicant of the L1 visa have ownership in the U.S. entity that will be employing them?
Yes, it is possible for the beneficiary of the L1 visa have ownership of the U.S. company where they will be working, as long as the foreign entity and the US company are related to each other by a parent-subsidiary, branch, or affiliate relationship. Affiliate companies are those that are controlled by the same parent, individual, or group of individuals at approximately the same share or proportion.
Q: Can a L1A or L1B visa holder work out of a home office?
It is risky to apply for an L1 visa proposing to work out of a home office. The regulations explicitly provide that the petition should submit evidence that “sufficient physical premises to house the new office” have been secured. It is common to submit a lease agreement and floor plan showing the square footage of the office that reasonably provides enough space according to the projected number of employees that the U.S. company will hire.
Q: How fast can I obtain an L1A or L1B visa?
For most country nationals, the L1A or L1B application is filed first to USCIS, after which the beneficiary can apply for a visa. Premium processing is available for USCIS L-1 petitions which provides a decision or RFE in 15 days. Canadian nationals have the option to apply an L visa at the U.S.-Canada border at certain port of entries (POE), where the applicant receives the decision on the same day.
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