bigstock-Passports-31148U.S. immigration law allows foreign citizens who are employed by companies with operations in the U.S. to enter the U.S. in order to perform their work duties. These individuals are issued special types of visas known L-1 visas, which are further divided into L-1A visas and L-1B visas. L-1A visas are typically issued to transferring executives or managers of a qualifying business, while L-1B visas are typically issued to lower level employees of a business with specialized skills or knowledge which are necessary to complete the employee’s assigned duties. Not only can the L-1 series visa be used to allow employees to transfer to the U.S. based offices of a business, but the visa can also be used by foreign businesses interested in sending an employee to the U.S. in order to establish a U.S. office, if one is not already in operation.

L-1A Basic Qualifications for Employees

The basic qualifications of the L-1A visa require the employee to have worked for a qualifying employer for a period of at least one year in the last three years immediately before the employee’s admission to the U.S., and also that the employee will be entering the U.S. for the purposes of serving in an executive or management capacity for the U.S. based operation of a multinational business. If they are joining an existing U.S. office, the employee will be issued an initial visa for up to three years. If they are entering the U.S. in order to establish a U.S. presence, the visa will be issued for a period of up to one year. In either case, extensions to the visa can be granted in increments of up to two years at a time, until the maximum allowed number of years in the country is reached, which is currently set at seven years.

L-1B Basic Qualifications for Employees

The basic qualifications of the L-1B visa, which are similar to those of the L-1A visa, require the employee who will be entering the country on the visa to have worked for a qualifying employer for a period of at least one year within the last three years immediately before the employee enters the U.S., and also that the employee will be entering the U.S. for the purposes of performing services for the qualifying employer which require specialized knowledge. Also like the L-1A visa, initial visas will be issued for up to one year, if a new office is being established, or up to three years if the employee will be joining a U.S. based office already up and running. Extensions to this visa are also issued in increments of two years until the maximum allowed number of years in the country is reached, which is currently set at five years for this visa type.

Basics for Businesses

In addition to requirements for employees who will be working in the U.S. under an L-1 visa, immigration law requires that the employing business meets certain requirements before it is allowed to request a transfer to the U.S. for an employee. The business is not required to be involved in international trade, but it must be a legitimate business that maintains a qualifying relationship with a foreign based company. A qualifying relationship is typically considered a parent company, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch.

For more information, speak to a L-1A visa attorney today.