The L-1A visa is for individuals coming to the United States as executives or managers of a U.S. employer to continue doing business. To be eligible for the L-1A visa, the sponsoring employer must prove:
- It has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. A qualifying relationship includes a parent company, a branch of the foreign company, a subsidiary, or affiliate;
- The company is currently, or will be,doing business as an employer in the United States; and
- The company is doing business in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the executive or manager’s stay in the United States as an L-1. Even though the employer must show it is doing business in at least one other country or through an affiliated organization, proving ongoing international trade is not required.
It is important to ensure that the U.S. business is “doing business” in accordance with the definition in the immigration context. Doing business within this context means continuously providing good and/or services. Just having an office location is not enough to meet the “doing business” requirement.
You, as the executive or manager must also show:
- You have been working for the company (or a company that has a qualifying relationship) for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding admission to the United States; and
- You will be coming to the United States in anexecutive or managerial capacity at the same company, its subsidiary or affiliate. Executive capacity means having broad discretion and ability to make decisions on behalf of the company. A managerial capacity is the broad discretion to supervise the company’s employees or to manage an essential aspect of the company’s business without being supervised.
If the company is establishing a new location in the United States, your employer will need to meet additional criteria for approval. The employer must show that:
- There is a physical location to carry out the functions of the new office;
- You have been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The location of the U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the petition approval.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, the employer may file the I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker with the USCIS, along with evidence that prove each of the criteria above.
The Blanket Petition
The blanket petition means the company applies on one petition to be able to sponsor future executives and managers for the U.S. location based on the same approved petition. If approved, it allows for a faster processing time for future visa applicants without having to file a new I-129 petition for each employee. To be eligible for the blanket petition, the company must show:
- The company and a qualifying organization are engaged in commercial trade or services;
- The company has had a location in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
- The company has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
- The company along with the other qualifying organizations must have been approved for at least 10 L-1 applications during the previous 12 months, have sales of $25 million per year, or have at least 1000 employees.
Applying Within the United States
If you are located in the United States, with a non-immigrant status or visa, you can change to the L-1A status but your employer must submit the Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. The USCIS makes the decision on this type of application. During the process you should be on the look out for any requests for more evidence, called RFEs. Failure to respond to these may cause a delay or denial of your application. This is where my services at ST Law Office can be pivotal to the success of an immigration visa application.
Before applying for the visa through this process, you should should make sure there are no problematic issues. Each of the pieces of this process can get complicated. If you miss something or make mistakes, it could mean a delayed process or even a denial. It is important to tread carefully and be meticulous through this process.
Applying at the Embassy
If you are outside of the United States, and the USCIS approves the petition, you will apply to the embassy in your country for the visa. The employer would need to forward the approval notice to you and then you would need to follow embassy instructions to apply for the non-immigrant visa. The embassy in your home country schedules the visa interview. The officer will review all documentation and your application at the interview and inform you of the decision at the interview.
If you are coming to the United States to set up a new office, you’ll be allowed up to a one (1) year stay. If you are coming as the employee of an already established company in the U.S., then you’ll be allowed up to three years after the initial approval. You may request extensions, which may be granted in two year increments, for a maximum of seven years. You are permitted to take your spouse and child(ren) with you to the United States as well. Your spouse and child(ren) would be eligible for an L-2 visa. Your spouse would also be eligible for work authorization.
When considering whether to go through with this type of visa application, it is important to take other circumstances and factors into consideration. Failing to do this may cause complications during the application process. For instance, any facts that involve previous denials, past immigration and criminal violations, previous marriages that involved filings, entry with other types of visas, tax issues, visa overstays, and previous employment in the United States can be just as important as the basic eligibility criteria. A single criminal violation, whether a misdemeanor or more serious, or an immigration violation can lead you to be inadmissible to the United States, which may require additional steps to getting the visa, such as a waiver.
It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with your case. An attorney will assist with with applying for the temporary labor certification, preparing the petition, assist with gathering evidence, and advocate vigorously for you during the process. Here at ST Law Office, I have dedicated my practice solely to immigration matters and have diverse experience surrounding these issues. I vigorously advocate no matter how simple or complicated the matter. Don’t hesitate to call us at 561-405-4889 or to schedule your initial phone, online or in-person consultation now.