L-1B VISAS FOR INTRACOMPANY TRANSFERS: Specialized knowledge
Who is Eligible?
L-1B visas are available to individuals who possess "specialized knowledge" and are transferring from an employer’s affiliated corporate office to an office in the U.S. A foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office may also use this visa to send an employee to the United States for the purpose of establishing on office.
Applicants must document that they possess either special knowledge of the 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.
Is Employer Sponsorship Required?
Yes. An L-1B petition must be filed by a U.S. sponsoring employer on behalf of an individual. The individual must have been working for the organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years preceding admission.
An individual cannot file their own L-1B petition. An approved petition provides an individual authorization to work only for the sponsoring employer.
How Long Can an Individual Stay in L-1B Status?
When transferring to an existing office, L-1B status can be granted for an initial 3 year period, plus additional 2 year extensions, to a maximum limit of 5 years.
When establishing a new office, the initial entry period is one year. Additional evidence regarding the creation and success of the office must be provided to obtain further extensions.
Spouses and Children
Spouses and children (unmarried and under age 21) of L-1B visa holders can be granted L-2 dependent status. L-2 status provides work authorization upon filing and approval of Form I-765.
Government Filing Fees
$500 (for initial application, not on extensions)
Premium Processing Fee
Optional. Either party may request expedited processing (15 days or less) for an additional fee of $1,410.
Regular processing times can vary between 2-3 months. Expedited or "premium" processing will result in an adjudication within 15 days. Regular filing can be upgraded to premium at any time while the case is pending.
Special provisions allow for a one year period of L status for the purpose of establishing a new office in the U.S. To qualify, an office location has been secured and a well developed business plan must be prepared. The relationship between the corporate entities and ability to fund the operations is necessary. The new office provision can be a useful tool which allows an entity to expand into the U.S. market.
Some organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition. Blanket approvals provide employers with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS. When a blanket approval is in place the employee can bypass case processing stateside and go directly to a U.S. Embassy for visa stamping.
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