L-1 visa is a document used to enter the United States for a purpose of work.
It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time between a minimum of three months up to five years based on a reciprocity schedule. With extensions, the maximum stay is seven years.
L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the corporation’s US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one continuous year within the previous three years prior to admission to the US. The US and non-US employers must be related in one of four ways:
- Parent and subsidiary;
- Branch and headquarters;
- Sister companies owned by a mutual parent; OR
- ‘Affiliates’ owned by the same or people in approximately the same percentages.
The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements.
Types of L-1 Visas
The L-1 visa has two subcategories:
- L-1A for executives and managers is valid for up to 7 years
- L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge is valid for up to 5 years
After the expiration of the 7 or 5 years respectively, the foreign national can generally only qualify for L-1 status again by working abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company.