L1 Visas

Intracompany transfer of employees to the US

Overseas companies that have a presence in the US often choose to expatriate employees to their US office.  There are many operational and corporate development initiatives that require such expats, including:

  • Rolling out a new global IT platform to an old US subsidiary
  • Launching a US subsidiary
  • Acquiring a US company, as part of the post-merger integration plan

The L1 visa authorizes intracompany transfers of key employees to the US

Our law firm can help with your L1 visa application.



The employee will either work in an executive or managerial capacity (ie, with an L1-A visa) or in a position requiring specialized knowledge (ie, with an L1-B visa).

No.  The employee must have worked for the home company abroad continuously for one year within the preceding three years.

Yes.  The spouse and unmarried children (younger than 21 years old) can also move to the US.  The spouse will be eligible to receive employment authorization to work anywhere in the US.  The children will be authorized to attend school in the US.


Standard processing time often takes seven to nine months.   The longest portion of this time is the processing of the US company’s initial application (which can take up to six months). 

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services offers expedited processing, which would lower the total processing time for the L-1 visa to one to three months.

Managers and executives (who have an L1A visa) receive a visa that is initially valid for three years.  This L1A visa is renewable.  The L1A employee can remain in the US for a maximum of seven years.

Employees with specialized knowledge (who have an L1B visa) receive a visa that is initially valid for three years.  This L1B visa is renewable.  The L1B employee can remain in the US for a maximum of five years.

If the US company is a new office, the initial period of validity is one year, rather than three years.


There is no arbitrary minimum amount of capital to be invested.  Rather, the US company must be sufficiently capitalized to fulfill the business’ costs and expenditures and support executive and managerial positions within one year.

There is no arbitrary requirement.  However, if the L-1 employee is an executive or manager, the US company should have sufficient support staff (eg, administrative assistants and low level management) to support that supervisory position.


The US company must be a branch, parent, affiliate or subsidiary of the home company abroad.

In the case of a parent/subsidiary relationship, one of the companies must:

  • Own less than half of the other company, but have control of that other company
  • Be a 50% partner of the other company 
  • Own more than half of the other company. 

No.  The home company, as well as the employee, can have any nationality.

Yes.  By obtaining a “L1 Blanket Visa” certification, companies can use L1 visas to regularly expatriate different employees to their US office.  Such blanket certification is typically available to larger companies. 

Specifically, the US company and other qualifying companies must either have:

  • Obtained approval of L1 visa applications for at least ten managers, executives or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous 12 months, or
  • US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million, or
  • A US work force of at least 1000 employees.

Moreover, the US company must have:

  • An office in the US that has been doing business for one year or more, and
  • Three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates

The L1 visa is only for intracompany transfers to the US from an overseas affiliated company.

However, you might be able to get an E2 visa, which is intended to allow foreign investors to come to the US to manage companies in which they are the majority owner.  Our law firm can help with your E2 visa application.


If your L1 visa application is for the purpose of launching your company in the US, you should absolutely include a detailed business plan with your application.  

If the US company is a large, established company, a business plan should still be included, but need not be as detailed.

Your business plan must include information to convince the US Customs and Immigration Services that:

  • The company is real and will likely succeed. 
  • The L1 position in the US company is legitimate.

General topics in the business plan include:

  • Company descriptions, including:
    • Relationship between US and overseas companies
    • Description (with photographs) of the US office
  • Human resources plan, including:
    • L1 employee’s expertise, experience and job description
    • Plans to hire additional staff
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Financial analysis

Our law firm can help you create an L1 business plan.


Foreign managers and executives who are based overseas can obtain an L1-A visa to work in their company’s US office.  With their L1-A visa, these managers and executives can bypass the long, standard pathway of applying for a green card and instead utilize a faster process.  This expedited pathway for L1-A visa holders is still complex and requires the active collaboration of the US employer.  However, the result of obtaining the green card for the company’s manager/executive is beneficial for both the company and the employee.

Contact our law firm to learn how we can help you in this process.









  • L2 Spouse/Dependent Application
  • Business Plan
  • Business Formation
  • Shareholder Agreement

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