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Can a company promote an employee to a new role as part of an L-1 visa transfer?

By January 5, 2024L-1 Visa
L-1 employer

The L-1 visa allows U.S. companies that have a qualifying relationship with a company abroad to transfer employees to the U.S. The employee must have worked for the company abroad for at least one continuous year within the past three years in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge role. Additionally, the prospective role in the U.S. must qualify as an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge role.

A common question we receive is whether the employee can be promoted to a new role in the U.S. as part of the L-1 visa transfer. The answer is yes, as long as the new role also qualifies under one of the regulatory definitions of manager, executive or specialized knowledge worker. Additionally, the company needs to demonstrate that the employee’s education, training and work history qualifies them to perform the new job in the U.S. This means that if an employee is being transferred to a new role in the U.S., it will be important that the petition clearly describes the employee’s professional experience, training and education and connects this to the new role, to show how the employee already has the professional skills and abilities to perform the new job.

Let us look at an example below:

Alison has been Director of Operations for a company in Brazil for six years. When she joined the company, it only had five employees and it has now grown to employ over 100 people. The Brazilian company would like to transfer Alison to their U.S. subsidiary to develop a new product and integrate it into the company’s infrastructure to increase efficiencies and boost revenues. When preparing the L-1 petition, the company should include relevant information about how Alison’s prior experience with the company (and any other relevant work experience) qualify her to take on this new role. For example, if she previously developed and/or integrated products into the company’s infrastructure this should be highlighted in the petition. Additionally, if she had relevant work experience gained prior to joining the company, this should be mentioned as well. If the roles are drastically different, the company should be prepared to provide more information and advocate for why this employee has the experience and skillset to perform this job.

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