L-1 Visas for Intracompany Transfers
The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to managers, executives, and key personnel of foriegn companies to transfer to a U.S. office or affiliated business entity. Similar to the H-1B visa, the L-1 visa is considered a dual-intent visa, meaning it allows L-1 visa holders to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants and apply for permanent residency without violating the terms of their status. There are two subcategories of the L-1 visa: the L-1A for executives and managers, and the L-1B for employees that possess specialized knowledge related to the business.
The L-1A Visa for Managers and Executives
The L-1A visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to work in the U.S. in a managerial or executive position. The L-1A not only allows for executives and managers to come to work in an existing U.S. office, but also to open or establish a new U.S. office or business affiliated with the foreign business. This makes the L-1A visa a good alternative to the E-2 treaty investor visa in situations where the investor is not a citizen of an E-2 treaty country. The L-1A visa is initially issued for a duration of 3 years and is able to be renewed in 2 year increments for a total of 7 years.
The L-1B Visa for Employees with Specialized Knowledge
The L-1B visa is available to transfer professional employees that possess "specialized knowledge" regarding the company's products, services, operations, management, or other interests, from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices. Similar to the L-1A, the employee can be transferred to an existing U.S. office or coming to establish a new office in the U.S. However, the L-1B is issued for an initial period of 3 years, but can only be renewed for another 2 years for a maximum duration of 5 years.