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The Best Kept Secret: the L-1 Intra-company Transferee Visa

By: Pia Marie Dyquiangco

With the rise in unemployment, the processing of PERM applications being delayed, the continued retrogression of EB-3 priority dates, and the potential of your H-1B application not being randomly selected for filing, the L-1 non immigrant visa may be the solution for qualifying foreign nationals who wish to come to the United States to work.

The Intra-company transferee: L-1 visas are for intra-company transferees. An intra-company transferee is a person who worked for a company abroad in an executive, managerial, or "specialized- knowledge" capacity for at least one continuous year within the three years prior to coming to the U.S. and is coming to the U.S. to work for a related (parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch) company in one of those three types of positions. A foreign business owner may seek to file an L-1 visa for themselves if they are opening a new office in the United States. This new office serves as a subsidiary, affiliate or branch of their already existing business abroad. The maximum stay is seven years for managers and executives and five years for specialized-knowledge employees.

Executive v. Manager v. Specialized Knowledge: The Executive or Manager transferees qualify for the L-1A visa while those applicants with Specialized Knowledge qualify for the L-1B visa. The distinctions among each are clearly set forth in their definition and the description of their daily duties. The clear distinction between an "Executive" and a "Manager" is that an Executive receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization and may direct policies and goals of the organization, while a Manager serves in a supervisory capacity and reports to executives. Specialized knowledge refers to knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests or its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures.

The L-1 Visa Advantage: An alien may legitimately come to the US as an L-1 and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent resident of the USA. The filing for permanent residency status (green-card) can commence following the L-1 extension, after the initial first year in L-1 status and business operation. Executives and managers needn't go through the PERM process in order to apply for lawful permanent residence; specialized knowledge professionals, however, require PERM.

Spouses on an L-2 visa are allowed to work: The Spouse and Children of the L-1 visa holder may come to the United States under an L-2 non immigrant visa. But unlike H-4 visa holders, they are allowed to obtain an employment authorization card. Employment authorization may be granted for the period of admission or status not to exceed two years.

So why are more people not applying for the L-1 Intra-company Transferee visa? The L-1 non immigrant visa is often driven by the corporate documents submitted to prove that there is a bona fide foreign company that has established a subsidiary, affiliate or branch in the United States. There has to be proof of a relationship between the organization abroad and in the US. Finally, the transferee's position in the company abroad has to meet the definition of "Executive, Manager or Specialized Knowledge." USCIS has been known to respond with a request for evidence for specific corporate documents from both the US Company and the Foreign Company. These specific requirements and complexity may hinder qualified people or companies to apply for the L-1 non immigrant visa. It may prove to be time consuming as far as what documents are needed, but it is not impossible to be approved.

An experienced immigration attorney makes a difference: There are a lot of perks in being a beneficiary of an L-1 intra-company transferee non immigrant visa. This is why you need an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to assist you through this process. The Lawyers of Wilner and O'Reilly have successfully assisted and continue to assist clients and employers in applying for an L-1 Intra-company Transferee visa. Our dedicated attorneys are ready to assist you whether you are the foreign national seeking to be transferred to a U.S. subsidiary or whether you are the employer wishing to transfer employees from abroad. We have three convenient locations: Cerritos, Irvine and Boise, Riverside. Call us at 800-352-7034 for a free consultation.

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