For Canadian professionals who qualify, the L visa combines the faster processing of the TN visa with the path to permanent residency provided by the H-1B. As with the TN visa, a Canadian professional can apply for an L visa at a U.S. port of entry. This makes the application process faster than applying for other nonimmigrant employment classifications, such as the H-1B, that must be processed through a USCIS Service Center, especially with the help of an L-1 visa lawyer. Moreover, Canadian professionals working in a managerial or executive capacity do not usually need a labor certification to begin the green card process, which can also significantly expedite the permanent resident process. These benefits make the L visa an attractive option for Canadian professionals, especially those seeking permanent residence in the United States.
The L visa is available for intracompany transferees in either specialized knowledge positions or executive or managerial positions, according to our L-1A visa lawyers. The intracompany transferee must have worked abroad with a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer for one continuous year out of the preceding three years. Interestingly, time spent by the Canadian professional in the United States in lawful status for business or pleasure will not interrupt the continuity of employment abroad; however, such periods will not be counted towards the accrual of one year employment abroad. To qualify as a specialized knowledge individual, the Canadian professional must have special knowledge or expertise regarding their employer’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, processes or procedures. A specialized knowledge employee is eligible to hold L status for a maximum of 5 years.
A Canadian intracompany transferee may also work in a managerial or executive capacity. Though it may seem obvious, the primary criteria for a managerial position is that the employee manage the company or a part of the company. The employee’s duties should involve supervising the work of other professional or managerial employees and/or managing an essential function or operation within the company. It is important to note that a first line supervisor does not typically qualify as a manager for L purposes.
A Canadian professional that is seeking L status as an executive must establish their proposed U.S. position is one of executive capacity. An executive is an employee who directs the management of the company or a subsection of the company. This differs from a manager in that an executive sets the overarching goals and policies of the company or a subsection, whereas a manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the company. An employee in an executive capacity should have wide spread discretion in decision-making and receive very little supervision. A Canadian professional in a managerial or executive capacity is eligible for L status for a maximum of 7 years. Any time a Canadian professional has previously spent in H-1B status, without leaving the U.S. for a minimum of one year, will be counted against the time the Canadian professional is eligible for L status.
For Canadian professionals considering an L visa, it is advisable to speak with a knowledgeable L-1A visa attorney. Qualified immigration counsel can help any Canadian professional answer difficult questions, such as whether they are a specialized knowledge or executive/managerial employee, whether their employer abroad has the requisite relationship with the U.S. employer and whether they have accrued enough time working abroad. The L classification is a great work visa option for those Canadian professionals who qualify, but the eligibility criteria can be complex and a Canadian professional should always be sure they meet the qualifications before applying.