L-1 Intracompany Transferees
- An “Intra-company transferee” is a person who has worked for a foreign company related to a company in the United States for at least one year out of the past three, and is now coming to the United States to continue working for the related U.S. company.
- The foreign company must be the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company. The rules are complicated and must be analyzed carefully. Both companies must continue to do business after the transfer occurs.
- The employee must be coming to the U.S. to perform duties as an executive or manager (“L-1A”), or because she has specialized knowledge of the company’s business (“L-1B”). The work previously performed for the foreign company for the qualifying one year period must also be this type of employment. An executive or manager will often qualify for “fast track” Green Card processing as well, without the need for labor certification. Specialized knowledge employees may also start the Green Card process if sponsored by the employer, but labor certification is needed.
- Qualifying Ls are admitted for three years. Managers and executives may be granted extensions in two year increments, up to seven years in total. Specialized knowledge employees may be granted extensions up to five years in total. Spouses and children are admitted as well as L-2s. The spouses of L employees may apply for work authorization.
- L petitions are filed with a USCIS service centers. However, Canadian citizens may apply for L status at the border, or at an airport with preflight clearance, under NAFTA. The filing fee is $325. In addition, there is a $500 “fraud surcharge” that applies to all new L petitions, but not to extensions. For an extra $1,225, CIS will process the petition within 15 days. In most cases (other than Canadians), the person must apply for an L visa stamp at a U.S. consulate once the petition is approved.
- There are special rules for new U.S. offices that have been open for less than one year. Persons coming to the U.S. to operate new offices must submit business plans, and are usually granted an initial period of only one year. A company must be doing business in the U.S. for one year before L executives and managers can apply for Green Cards.
- Recently, there has been media criticism of the L-1 category, and interpretation of the rules has been tightened. A new law prohibits the use of L employees at third-party work sites in most cases. Also, it has gotten more difficult to convince the Service Centers that a job really involves “specialized knowledge.” These developments make it even more important to obtain professional help in filing L petitions.