The L1 Visas (L1A and L1B)
The United States L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies operating both in the U.S. and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to its U.S.A. operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate, or branch office of your U.S. company outside of the U.S. for at least one year out of the last three years.
Companies operating in the US can apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L1 visa to transfer someone to the U.S. from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will initially be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for L1 visas:
Managers & Executives (L1A visa)
The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department, or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa for an initial three year period, which can be extended in two year increments, to a maximum of seven years.
Specialized Knowledge Staff (L1B visa)
This category covers those with knowledge of the company’s products and services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa for an initial three year period, which can be extended to five years.
On completing the maximum allowable period in L-1 status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L (or H) status.