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The US L-1A and L-1B non-immigrant Visa Option

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Unfortunately, in the US for most people there are only a limited number of temporary work visa options. These are based on an employer petitioning for entry of highly skilled workers on an non-immigrant visa.

The H-1B visa quota for graduate level staff runs out almost as soon as it becomes available in the beginning of April each year. In many cases the L-1A for managers/executives and the L-1B for specialized knowledge workers are the only options available for entry to the US. In some cases it may also be worth considering the E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Treaty Investor visas; only certain nationalities can apply for this visa.

L-1 Non-Immigrant Visa

The L-1 is a non-immigrant visa. The L-1A for executives and managers allows entry for a total period of up to seven years. The L-1B for specialized knowledge staff can be extended for up to five years. Processing times are likely to be one to three months. This is much quicker than most applications for lawful permanent residence. After the maximum period of stay under the L-1 visa you will have to be outside the US for at least a year before applying for another L-1 visa; assuming that you cannot come under another visa category.

Lawful Permanent Residence ("Green Card")

If you meet the requirements for the L-1A non-immigrant visa you may very well also meet the requirements for the EB1-C "green card" for managers and executives. This is one of the best ways of gaining lawful permanent residence in the US. However, in most cases employers and employees opt initially for the L-1A visa as it is usually quicker to obtain and may at a later date apply for an EB1-C immigrant visa.

To come under the L-1 visa you need to have worked overseas for at least a year in a company that has a considerable degree of common ownership with the US company. The U.S. business that the person wishes to work for must be linked to the company outside of the U.S. in one of four ways:

  • parent

  • subsidiary

  • branch

  • sister companies owned by the same parent (affiliate).

Starting a New Business on a L-1 Visa

You can open a new business in the US with a relatively small investment. This is an advantage of the L-1 visas for those who wish to invest in the US and live there, but do not have a minimum of half million dollars to invest under the EB-5 investor immigrant visa.

The spouse of the L-1 visa holder can apply for an L-2 dependent visa and apply for work authorisation in the US. Children can attend school. However, when children turn 21, they will need to apply for an F-1 student visa if they are students or some other type of US visa.

Denial Rate for L-1 Visas

USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) denied 35% of L-1B visa applications in 2014. This is because of the high rate of denials for Indians. The refusal rate for L-1B visas for Indians was 56 percent in fiscal years 2012 to 2014. The denial rate for non-Indians was much lower at 13%. It is hoped that the L-1B visa Memorandum that came into use from 31 August 2015 will result in lower denial rates, especially for Indians. It may be worth considering in some cases filing an L-1A visa petition for an executive or manager instead of an L-1B visa for specialized knowledge employees. can help with US work visas can help with regular and blanket L-1 Visas and other types of US Visas such as E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas.

For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for an US work visa contact on 0344 991 9222.