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L Visa: Work Visa Options for Canadian Professionals

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. 

Who Qualifies for the L Visa?

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.

Specialized Knowledge Requirement

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. 

Managerial or Executive Capacity

A Canadian intracompany transferee may also work in a managerial or executive capacity. Though it may seem obvious, the primary criterion for a managerial position is that the employee manages 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 who is seeking L status as an executive must establish that 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 widespread 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. 

Get Help with Your L Visa Application

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. 

Sam Shihab & Associates Can Help

If you are an immigrant with any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, H-1B visas, green card applications, or any other legal matter, speak at once to an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can help you and your family with any immigration issue you face and defend you if you’re accused of violating immigration law.

Our immigration attorneys will review your forms and applications for thoroughness and accuracy. Immigration laws will continually change, but an experienced immigration attorney will always be able to give you the most up-to-date immigration advice you need.

We have offices in Dublin and Columbus, OhioMichigan, and Texas. But our full suite of immigration law services is available to clients nationwide and even around the world.

Contact us today!

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