What You Need to Know About the L-Visa

What you need to know about The L-1 Visa is that it offers a relatively quick solution to employers in the United States with multinational operations who need to bring foreign employees from company affiliates in other countries to America for a limited time. Similarly, foreign companies can also use the L-1 Visa to send employees to the US to start operations. The L-1 Visa is an important part of business immigration because the ability to move non-immigrant employees to the US on a temporary basis is considered essential to economic prosperity.

To qualify for an L-1 Visa, both employers and employees need to meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible for benefits. Employers apply for the visas and there are no limits on how many of the visas an employer can request. The L-1 Visa is able to be extended up to a maximum number of years depending on the type of L-1 Visa that has been authorized.

Types of L-1 Visas

There are two types of L-1 Visas the L-1A and L1B. The main difference between the two visas is the type of employee involved:

L-1A Visas are for employees who work in managerial or executive positions.

  • Managerial – an employee having supervisory responsibilities over other employees
  • Executive – an employee that has decision-making authority at a high level

L-1B Visas are for employees who have specialized knowledge about the company business.

  • Specialized knowledge – an employee with expertise about what the company does which is necessary for operations

Meeting the Qualifications for an L-1 Visa

Man with visa

Both the employer and the employee must meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible for an L-1 Visa.


  • Must have worked for the company at least 1 continuous year during the previous 3 years
  • Must be either a manager, executive or have specialized knowledge

US Employer

  • Must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company
  • Must be doing business in the US and at least one other country while the employee is in the US

Foreign Employer

  • Must show there is a physical location for the business in the United States
  • L1-A – must show the employee was a manager or executive for at least 1 continuous year in the previous 3 years and that the business will support the employee within 1 year
  • L1-B – proof of financial ability to pay the employee and begin business

How to Obtain an L-1 Visa

A qualifying employer who wants to transfer a qualifying employee has to file the I-129-Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with US Citizen and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Documentation is required showing the necessary qualifications have been met. Once the information has been obtained and the fees are paid, an interview is scheduled with the employee. If the interview goes well, an L-1 Visa takes about 4-6 months to process. For those who need their visa sooner, there is an option for premium processing that takes a matter of weeks.

The Duration of an L-1 Visa

The length of the L-1 Visa will depend upon which type of L visa was issued. The L-1 Visas issued to employees coming to established US companies have an initial term of 3 years. L-1 Visas issued to employees coming to start businesses in the US have an initial term of 1 year.

  • L-1A Visa – Can extend in 2-year increments up to a maximum of 7 years
  • L-1B Visa – Can extend in 2-year increments up to a maximum of 5 years

Families of L-1 Visa Employees

Family gathering

The spouse and children under 21 years of the L-1 employee may apply for L-2 Visas to accompany the employee to the US. An L-2 Visa allows a spouse to get a work permit and work anywhere in the US. And those with L-2 Visas can attend school in the US and can travel in and out of the country. The duration of the L-2 Visa will be the same as the employee’s L-1 Visa.

What You Can Do if Your L-1 Visa Petition Is Denied

If the USCIS determines that an employer or employee has not provided adequate evidence that the requirements necessary to issue the L-1 Visa have been met, the visa may be denied. Some of the most common reasons for L-1 Visa denial include the following:

  • The employee does not meet managerial, executive or specialized knowledge requirements
  • The business projections are not believable or are too different from industry standards
  • Documents submitted contain errors or are improperly completed
  • The evidence submitted is not convincing enough

The first thing to do following visa denial is to understand why your petition was denied. What was the reason given for the denial? Is the reason valid? If you want to appeal the denial, you can go directly to the Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”). The disadvantage with this approach is that it tends to take a long time and the AAO rarely overturns the decision of the USCIS.

Woman with denied visa

You may also be able to challenge your denial in federal court. If you can argue that the denial by the USCIS was not logical based on the evidence you provided, you can skip dealing with the AAO and go right to federal court. You’ll need legal advice to determine if your circumstances meet the standard required to go to federal court. This means having a lawyer on your side that’s well-versed in federal court practice.

A faster way to resolve the problem might be to see if there is another type of visa that an employee could qualify for. Again, a good immigration attorney can recommend the best course of action given your particular situation.

Finally, it may be possible to apply for a waiver of your denial. In the case of an L-1 Visa, the denial must contain a recommendation that the waiver be granted in order to be eligible to apply.

A Valuable Type of Business Visa

The L-1 Visa allows employers with multinational operations to bring foreign employees lawfully into the US for a limited time. Having an L-1 Visa petition denied can be frustrating and cause unwanted delays for your business. While it’s possible to appeal the denial of your petition, it’s far more efficient to be extremely thorough when completing the application. Making sure the questions are answered appropriately and proper documentation is attached will reduce the chances of having your petition denied. Working with someone who can guide you through the process and make sure you get everything right the first time can save you two very valuable resources: time and money.

Contact Us Today

Having the right immigration lawyer by your side is the first step towards creating a foundation to your future. The immigration laws are complex and constantly changing. Therefore, having a lawyer that is well-versed, skilled, and experienced with immigration laws is not just important, it’s crucial. If you want a better future and the peace of mind in knowing you or a loved one will receive excellent representation, contact us today. At Best Immigration Lawyers, our lawyers are licensed to appear in every immigration court in the country and can represent you anywhere in the United States or overseas. Create a better future, call us today at (800) 712-0000.

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