What is an L-1 visa? Here's everything you need to know

Apart from the H-1B visa, the L-1 is the other type of work visa the United States of America issues to immigrants. Unlike the H-1B, where an individual is looking to join and American company, the L-1 visa is issued to those who are already emplo...

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Apart from the H-1B visa, the L-1 is the other type of work visa the United States of America issues to professionals looking to work in the country. Unlike the H-1B, where an individual is looking to join and American company, the L-1 visa is issued to those who are already employed by the company in another country, and who are merely relocating to an American office.

These visa holders are known as intracompany transferees.

L-1 visas are temporary non-immigrant visas, so applicants must prove that they want to immigrate to the US before receiving the visa.


Depending on the nature of work, two types of L-1 visas exist:
-L-1A: L-1A visas are designated for managers and executives.
  • Executives can make decisions without much oversight.
  • Managers supervise and control the work of employees and manage the organization or a subdivision of the organization.
- L-1B: Those with L-1B visas perform work requiring specialized knowledge. This means that they either have advanced knowledge of the organization’s processes or special knowledge of the organization’s products, services and so on.

What you need to apply
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Unlike other visas, the L-1 visa has requirements that both the employee and the employer must meet. There are two main requirements:
  • Employer Requirements: The employer within the US and its foreign branch that employs the applicant abroad must have a qualifying relationship. Also, throughout the visa holder’s stay in the US, the employer must be doing business in the US and at least one other country.
  • Employee Requirements: The applicant must have been employed by the foreign employer for at least one continuous year within the previous three years, in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge field.
The application process
1. Form DS-160, along with:
  • Two current passport-sized photographs
  • A copy of the applicant’s US passport
2. Form I-129: This must be filed at least 45 days before the employee’s start date, and no more than 6 months before employment begins.
3. Consular Processing: The applicant will need to go to their home country’s consulate or embassy for an interview.

How long does processing take?
Processing time varies depending on the service center and the country from where the applicant applies. It could take anywhere from six months, up to a year. Premium processing comes with a fee of $1,225.
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Extension Process
Filing a visa extension requires these documents:
  • Proof of the beneficiary’s employ for the duration of their time in the US.
  • Evidence of the beneficiaries US work-relevant degree (or foreign equivalent).
  • Letter for a foreign employer detailing the beneficiary’s previous three years of employment.
  • Support letter from petitioner, including alien’s salary, job duties, terms of employment, etc.
  • USCIS filing fee.
  • Summary and proof of travel history outside of the US (boarding passes, passport stamps, etc.).
  • Completed I-129 Petition.
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