The L visa program consists of two visa classifications, L-1A and L-1B. Both are temporary intracompany transfer programs that permit nonimmigrant alien employees of an international company to transfer to the company’s U.S.-based office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one continuous year. The spouses of L-1 visa recipients may also work any job without restriction once an approved I-766 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued.
Example: Microsoft India office looking to transfer employees to Microsoft USA office would utilize the L-1 visa program.
Just like the H-1B, the L-1 is a dual-intent visa, meaning that a nonimmigrant alien worker can apply for permanent residence (Green Card) while on a temporary work visa. Unlike the H-1B, there is no cap for L-1 visas. International companies can bring an unlimited number of nonimmigrant alien workers into the U.S. as long as the L-1 requirements are met.
The L-1 visa program has neither a wage floor nor an American worker recruitment requirement. In fact, an L-1 nonimmigrant alien employee can legally be paid the salary s/he was earning in the home country while working in the company’s U.S.-based office.
- L-1A is designated for executives and managers and is valid up to seven years.
- L-1B is designated for workers with specialized knowledge and is valid up to five years.
The application process for an L-1 visa includes:
- Filing I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) application with USCIS and submitting supporting documentation that shows both the U.S. company and the foreign affiliate branch meet the qualifications set by law and regulations.
- Applying for a visa issuance at the U.S. embassy in the country of applicant’s residence once the I-129 is approved. Once the visa is stamped to the passport, the holder can travel to the U.S. and begin working for the U.S. employer.
L-1 Visa Stats
- Approximately 70,000 to 80,000 L-1 visas are issued each year.
- Citizens from India are the largest recipients (approx. 20,000/year).
- The top 10 L-1 visa users are IT outsourcing firms.