Intracompany Transfer Visa
By Masood R. Khan, Esq.
This column is of a general nature
and is not to be construed as legal advice. Be sure
to consult an attorney for your specific legal issues.
With generous investment
opportunities in the US, one of the easiest ways
Pakistani entrepreneurs may gain legal status is
through their own businesses with the L-1 intra-company
L-1 intra-company is designed to allow employees
of an overseas company that has an affiliate or
subsidiary company or branch operating in the US
to come to work for that branch in the US.
the difference between an L-1 and other employment-based
While there are a number of important requirements
to qualify in this category, it offers a number
of advantages that make it worthwhile over other
types of visas. For example, there is no annual
quota; one may pursue a green card while on an L-1
visa and for many L-1As, there is a matching permanent
residency category that makes getting a green card
relatively quick and pain-free.
The first requirement for the L-1 is for the applicant
to have been continuously employed overseas for
one year within the last three years for a parent,
affiliate, or subsidiary of a US employer. The employer
may be a corporation, company, and even a profit,
non-profit, religious, or charitable organization.
Second, the foreign business and the US business
must have a “qualifying relationship.”
Both the US and the foreign business must have common
majority ownership, or, if there is less than majority
ownership, common control by the same person or
entity. Essentially there should not be different
groups controlling the foreign firm and the US firm.
Third, the applicant must be employed as a manager,
executive or specialized knowledge employee. A "Specialized
knowledge" refers to employees with
• a special knowledge of the company's products
and their applications in world markets;
• an advanced or unique knowledge of the company's
processes or procedures.
Lastly, the applicant must intend to depart the
US when his or her stay is over. However, the applicant
may also pursue permanent residency simultaneously
without a negative impact on the ability to keep
or extend an L-visa. This is allowed based on the
doctrine of dual intent which applies to L-1 visas
(just like H-1B visas). For this reason, this makes
the L-visa a popular option for multinational firms.
What is the difference between an “executive”
and a “manager”?
An “executive” is one who directs the
management of the company. Usually these are executive
positions such as presidents, vice-presidents and
controllers. An executive is expected to have a
supervisory role in the company and would not include
people who are primarily performing the lower tier
and menial tasks such as production or providing
service to customers. A “manager” directs
the organization, a department, or a function of
the organization. Like executives, a qualifying
manager will not be overseeing the primary performance
of menial tasks.
Executives and managers may stay in L-1 status for
up to seven years. They are granted L-1A status.
Specialized knowledge employees may stay in the
US for up to five years and are called L-1Bs. Those
who wish to obtain L-1B visas must go through the
labor certification process. The visas will be granted
with an expiration of up to three years. Whether
the visas are multiple entry or not depends on the
applicant’s country of origin.
What about persons setting up a new office
in the US?
Persons coming to set up a new office in the US
can only be granted a one-year stay in the US. The
INS will also typically require additional information
about the plans for the new office such as proof
that office space has been obtained, that the applicant
has had the appropriate experience with the foreign
company and that the foreign company will remain
in existence during the full period of the applicant’s
transfer to the US. If the company wants to have
the L-1 visa extended beyond the initial year, it
will have to demonstrate at the time of extension
that it has proceeded with the plans outlined in
the initial petition.
How should you apply for L-1 status?
Applications for L-1 visa status must first be approved
by the regional USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction
over the location where the transferred employee
will be situated. The employer must submit the application
with supporting documentation and filing fee to
the USCIS Service Center. After the Service Center
approves the application, the employee must apply
at the US Consulate for the visa.
if my company has a large number of applicants?
Companies with a large number of applicants may
apply for “blanket approval” for their
workers rather than having each employee apply individually.
There are special procedures that make it easier
for companies sending over large numbers of applicants
to get L-1 visas for their employees.
Spouses can seek employment authorization after
acquiring L-2 status as a spouse/dependant.
(Masood Khan is an attorney with Khan & Associates.
He can be reached via telephone at (888) KHAN LAW
or via email at Mkhanlaw@aol.com)