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L1 visa applicant general requirements

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L1 Visa Overview

The L1 visa scheme is popular as there is no quota and because any nationality including Indian and Chinese nationals can apply for it.  As they are unable to apply for the E2 and E1 visa schemes the L1 visa may be the only option in many circumstances.

All L1A Visa Executive or Manager employees, which includes business owners, or L1B Visa specialized knowledge employees must have been employed outside of the USA for one year in the last three years by a company that has common ownership with the (new or existing) US company they plan to work for under the L1 scheme.  A great deal of documentation will need to be provided to show ownership and control of the overseas business and the US business, and to show that the businesses are operational. Although for new US offices the documentation requirements are lower for the US based company.  The documentation needs to be provided in duplicate for the USCIS, unless it is a very large company with blanket filing.

Usually the overseas employee would be a direct employee of the business outside the US. In some circumstances the employee may be able to qualify under the L1 visa having worked outside the US on a freelance basis, provided the employer had management control over the worker, similar to what you would expect to see with someone on the payroll, during the qualifying year.

L1 Visa Requirement for employee to have worked abroad for the business for one year in the last three years

  • The overseas employment must have been for a consecutive period of at least one year in the last three years.

  • The overseas employment must have been in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge worker role to count towards L1 visa eligibility.

  • Time spent in the US may not count towards the one year period required to come under the L1 visa category.  So in some cases the employee abroad may have to work for longer than one year for the business abroad to meet the L1 visa requirements.

  • Those working abroad as specialized knowledge worker may be able to come to the United States as an L1A Manager or Executive, while those working previously abroad as a manager or executive can come as a L1B specialized knowledge worker. But only if the US operation has been doing business for at least one year. Otherwise they can only enter under the L1 category which more closely matches their existing role.

  • You need to provide detailed documentation that the L1A executives and managers criteria is met – they must generally supervise other professional or managerial staff and/or direct and control the day-to-day operations of a significant function, unit or subdivision of the overseas employer.

  • it can be even more difficult coming under the L1B specialized knowledge worker visa criteria.  Under the L1B visa you need to be familiar with the employer's specific products, procedures or methods to qualify for this visa.


If you would like to apply for an L1 visa through, please fill out our application form.


Further information, help, and advice's team of specialists has 30 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a US qualified lawyer who is also typically a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at