The L-1 intracompany transfer visa is used by companies to transfer executives, managers, and specialized knowledge employees from one of the organization’s foreign offices to one of its offices in the United Statements. Managers and executive use the L-1A visa and can remain in this status for up to seven years. Specialized-knowledge employees use the L-1B visa and hold this status for up to five years. L-1 visas allow employers ranging world leading multinational corporations to small startups and family-owned businesses to transfer employees who have worked at least one year in the prior three years in the above referenced function to work for U.S. offices on a temporary basis. L-1A position also qualifies for an EB-1C Immigrant Visa Petition for a permanent status.


  • The employer must be able to prove that a qualifying relationship between the petitioning U.S. entity and the foreign entity that the foreign employee has worked for at least one year within the three years prior to the filing of an L-1 visa. A qualifying relationship could be parent-subsidiary, affiliates, joint ventures, etc.
  • The foreign worker must have been employed abroad continuously for one year within the three years prior to the filing of an L-1 visa, by a qualifying foreign entity.
    • The foreign worker must be coming to the United States in a capacity that is managerial, executive, or one that involves specialized knowledge.
      • Executive capacity generally refers to your ability to make a wide range of decisions without much oversight.
      • Managerial capacity generally refers to your ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to your ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others
      • Specialized knowledge either means knowledge you have about the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

New Offices and Small Businesses

It is recommended that a company will have its U.S. office running for a year before attempting an L-1 visa in order to reduce the likelihood of a denial. However, if a company needs the executive, manager or specialized knowledge employee sooner than that, the petitioner will need to be prepared to provide convincing proof  that a business is “doing business ” with detailed business plan, financial records, organizational documents, contracts, letters of intent, hiring plan, and any other documents related to business plan and general projections.

An initial L-1 for a new office will be approved for only one year versus up to three years for other L-1s. Also, only those who have worked as executives or managers abroad may seek L-1A visas for new offices.

Small and medium-sized businesses may also support a position wherein the duties are primarily executive or managerial, however, neither the title of the position nor ownership of the business are by themselves indicators of the managerial or executive capacity. USCIS often requires additional evidence of ownership and control, such as records of stock ownership, profit and loss statements, tax returns and incorporation documents.


Spouse and children under the age of 21 can accompany an L-1 by using the L-2 visa. The granted period of say for the L-2 corresponds to that of the L-1. L-2 spouses may apply for employment authorization.

Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced immigration attorneys for any L-1 visa questions. Schedule A Consultation.

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