L-1A Visa

International Investors

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L-1A International Managers and Executives Visas

The L-1A visa is a nonimmigrant visa intended to permit international businesses to transfer managers and executives to the United States from abroad.

L-1A visas are available to international businesses of all shapes and sizes. An international business just starting in the United States can use L-1A visas to transfer leaders from abroad to open a new office in the United States.  More established international businesses commonly use L-1A visas to move key employees to the United States to manage critical projects or fill leadership vacancies.

Both the international business and the employee it seeks to transfer to the United States must meet certain requirements to qualify for an L-1A visa.

What Are The L-1A Visa Requirements For The International Business?

To sponsor an L-1A visa an international business must establish a “qualifying business relationship” between a U.S. business and a related company abroad from which it seeks to transfer the employee.  There are four types of qualifying business relationships:

  • U.S. Parent – Where the U.S. business owns and controls the company abroad.
  • U.S. Subsidiary – Where the U.S. business is owned and controlled by the company abroad.
  • Affiliate – Where the U.S. business and company abroad are both owned and controlled by a third individual/business.
  • Branch – Where the both the U.S. business and company abroad are one in the same, operating in different locations. 

The international business must intend on doing business in the U.S. and in at least one other country for as long as the L-1A employee’s visa will remain in effect. It is not required that these companies be engaged in international trade, only that they be involved in legitimate business practices in the countries where the offices are located.

What Are The L-1A Visa Requirements For Employees?

The employee who will be transferring to the United States must have been employed by the related company abroad for at least one year within the three years just prior to entering the country on an L-1A visa.

The employee, with the assistance of their international business sponsor, must also be able to show that they meet the legal definition of a “manager” or “executive.”

  • Managers are those who supervise the work of a team of professional subordinates and/or manage an important function in the company.
  • Executives are the top leaders of a company (President, Vice President, CEO, etc.) who have broad discretion in running the business and receive little oversight.