What is L1 visa means?

An L-1 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months (for Iran nationals) to five years (India, Japan, Germany), based on a reciprocity schedule.

It is a temporary visa which facilitates the intra-company transfer of a foreign worker. The foreign worker should be in an executive, managerial, or specialized role. The L1 Visa allows the worker to come to the US to work in an office of the same employer. The office could belong to its parent company, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.

The L1 Visa was created to ease the transfer of employees of large multinational companies. However, it also allows startup or small companies to expand their business or services to the US.

Relatively Low Requirements

There are many work visas available to foreign professionals who wish to be employed in the U.S. Many of them have very steep requirements that are difficult to fulfill.

For example, the O-1 visa requires applicants to show their extraordinary ability through international awards or a substantial salary. The TN visa is only available to Canadians and Mexicans. The E-2 visa requires a substantial investment in a U.S. enterprise.

The L-1 visa, however, only requires you to be a manager, executive, or specialized employee in a multinational company in order to be qualified. This opens up the door for many people that are otherwise ineligible for other work visas.

No Job Offer Required

One of the most difficult aspects of acquiring an H-1B, J-1, or TN visa is finding an entity that is willing to sponsor you for the visa. If you are a qualified L-1 applicant, then you are already employed with a U.S. company that will sponsor you.

No Annual Limits

Typically, the L-1 visa is compared to the H-1B on account of their similarities. However, they differ largely here as there is a strict annual cap on how many H-1B petitions are approved. Each year, a small number of petitions are randomly selected from the pool of submitted petitions, making it very difficult to obtain an H-1B if you are subject to this lottery.

On the other hand, there are no limits to how many L-1 visas are approved each year. This means that your petition will not be rejected due to the fact that there are no more available visas.

Period of Stay

For the L-1A visa, holders will be granted an initial three years of stay in the U.S. They can then extend their stay to a maximum of seven years, this surpasses the H-1B’s maximum of six years and the J-1’s maximum of five years.

However, the L-1B visa can only be extended to a maximum of five years, making its period of stay a disadvantage when compared to other work visas.

Educational Requirements

One of the greatest L-1 visa benefits is the fact that you do not need a degree to qualify. This is a large advantage over the H-1B, though there are some other visas that do not necessarily require an education. These include the O-1, E-2, TN, and J-1 visa classifications.

Spouses and Dependents Can Work

If you are in the U.S. on L-1 status, you will be able to bring your spouse and children along with you through the L2 visa. Also, if they qualify for Employment Authorization Documents, they will be able to work in the U.S. as well. This is a great L-1 benefit because it allows your spouse and dependents to make supplementary income to help support the family if necessary.

Dual Intent

Like several other nonimmigrant visas, the L-1 is considered by the USCIS to be “dual intent”, meaning that L-1 holders are able to pursue lawful permanent resident status during their stay. This is in contrast to work visas such as the J-1 and TN visa classifications through which pursuing a green card would violate your status and possibly incur consequences with the USCIS.

The USCIS has recently published a memorandum to provide clarification regarding the L1 Visa.

The policy memorandum clarified the duration of employment of the L1 beneficiary. The L1 beneficiary should have been employed abroad with the qualifying organization. The employment should have been continuous for a year in the recent 3 years prior to submitting the L1 application.

During the 1 year that the L1 beneficiary is employed with the company, the worker should be physically outside the US. However, brief trips to the US for business or pleasure may be allowed during this duration.

L1 visas are mainly issued for intra-company transfers. For example, if an employee of Infosys moves from India to the office of the company in the US, they will do so on an L1 Visa. If, however, the employee moves from India to work at a client site in the US, they will do so on an H1B Visa.

The USCIS also said that the petitioning company should also meet all the requirements of the L1 Visa.

The IT industry in India had been awaiting clarity on the L1 Visas. The rejection rates for L1 Visas gone up in recent times. The visa fee has also increased many folds. The number of renewals has also decreased.

As part of its Buy American Hire American policy, the US Govt. has been reviewing its visa programs and policies. This has subjected visa applications to greater scrutiny, as per Money Control.

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