What Businesses and Workers Should Know about L1 Visas

L1 Visas are a United States work visa for people who work for companies based outside the United States that are expanding their business to the United States. They are also available to employees who work for companies with branches, subsidiaries, or other partner corporations in the US. The L-1A Visas are for executives and managers of these companies. The L-1B Visas are for employees with specialized knowledge. There are many requirements that must be met in order for a person or business to qualify for L-1 visas. There are also very specific legal definitions for “specialized knowledge”, “executive”, and “manager” that must be met to qualify. A Chicago immigration lawyer can help individuals file a timely application that includes all essential supporting documentation.

Advantages for businesses of Blanket L-1 Petitions

Sometimes large companies need to transfer many employees to the United States with the L-1A visa program. When that is the case, the company can file for an L-1 Blanket Petition. Obtaining Blanket L-1 approval reduces the processing time for employees because they do not have to prove eligibility for every employee’s individual visa application. Applicants are able to obtain the necessary L-1 stamp on their passport by taking the Blanket L-1 approval to the US consulate in their home country. The Blanket L-1 approval allows managers, executives, and employees with specialized knowledge to complete their application for an L-1A or L-1B at the US Consulate. This allows qualifying companies to transfer their eligible employees quickly to the United States when they are needed on short notice.

Qualifying for Blanket L-1 certification

Companies engaged in commercial trade or services that already have a location operating in the United States for a minimum of one year can file a Blanket L-1 Petition. The company must have at least three foreign or domestic branches. Additionally, the company must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The company must have at least 1,000 employees working in the United States.
  • Annual revenue for the company and all subsidiaries must be at least $25 million.
  • The company must have at least 10 L-1 approvals in the previous 12 months.

Under NAFTA, Canadians can apply for their L-1 Visa at any port of entry rather than just at a United States immigration office. With proper documentation, it is possible for Canadian employees of qualifying companies to apply for and receive their L-1 Visa at a US border entry point.