L-1 Visa Applications 101

L-1 Visa Applications 101

January 21, 2020

By Joseph Barnett and Richard Yemm

The L-1 visa program benefits multinational companies by allowing U.S. employers to transfer intracompany executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge from abroad. Sweetening the deal, there are no annual visa number limitations placed on the L-1 program, and companies can file for L-1 Blanket Certification to streamline the application process for faster transfers. Finally, there are green card options available to retain experienced personnel over the long-term. For more information about the advantages of the L-1 visa program READ HERE.

U.S. companies seeking to leverage key opportunities for growth afforded by the L-1 visa program should familiarize themselves with up-to-date L-1 guidance given the impact of President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. For example, in the past four years, the approval rate for initial L-1 petitions dropped from 85% to 72%, while RFE issuance rates for such applications have increased from 32% to over 50%. With new policy memorandum and tightened adjudications, sponsoring U.S. employers are obliged to explicitly demonstrate with detailed supporting evidence how L-1 regulations are being complied with.


WR will be holding a FREE WEBINAR – L-1 “Intracompany Transferee” Visa: Opportunities and Updates for Corporations – on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 11:00 am PST. The webinar is designed to educate HR and Global Mobility teams as well as corporate lawyers and business lawyers on the L-1 visa program for intracompany transferees. Specifically, topics will include:

            • L-1 visa overview

            • “Buy American, Hire American” and its impact on the L-1

            • Preparing employees for the L-1 visa interview and global consular update

            • L-1 Blanket Certification – quicker and easier L-1 adjudication

FREE 1 HOUR California State Bar CLE is available to participants.

In the meantime, read below to learn more about L-1 visa application basics.

L-1A Executives or Managers

The L-1A classification allows a corporation or other legal entity (including its affiliate or subsidiary) to transfer a qualifying foreign employee to the United States to work temporarily in a managerial or executive capacity.

A key aspect of any L-1A application is submitting a list of executive or managerial duties the sponsored employee will be required to perform, along with percentages of time devoted to each duty. USCIS is rejecting overly broad descriptions that do not explain the specific tasks to be performed on a day-to-day basis to carry out those responsibilities. These assertions must be supported with relevant, probative, and credible evidence, such as organizational charts, professional qualifications of subordinates, board of director authorizations, employee reviews, and examples of high-level decisions that have been made by the worker without further approval (including budget authority, contractual capacity, and banking authorization).

L-1B: Specialized Knowledge

The L-1B classification allows an employer to sponsor a foreign worker who is seeking to enter the United States temporarily to continue rendering his or her services to the same employer or a subsidiary or affiliate thereof in a specialized knowledge capacity.

A beneficiary is deemed to have specialized knowledge if he or she has: (1) a “special” knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets; or (2) an “advanced” level of knowledge of the processes and procedures of the company. USCIS has articulated that “special” and “advanced” are relative terms that requires a comparison of the foreign worker’s knowledge against that of others, such as (a) whether the knowledge is commonly held throughout a particular industry; (b) whether the knowledge can be easily imparted from one person to another; (c) whether the knowledge is distinct or uncommon in comparison to the knowledge of other similarly employed workers in the same industry; or (d) whether the knowledge of or an expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures that is greatly developed or further along in progress, complexity, and understanding in comparison to other workers in the employer’s operations.

L-1Z Blanket

The L-1Z Blanket petition is meant to serve large, established companies that have multi-layered structures and numerous related business entities but can also be used by companies having an established program for rotating personnel in and out of the U.S. The petitioning U.S. company must demonstrate at least one of the following: (a) U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates have a combined annual sale of at least $25 million; (b) U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees; or (c) at least ten L-1 approvals during the previous 12 months.

New Office L-1s

The New Office L-1 has become increasingly popular for new U.S. start-ups or expanding a foreign business into a new market in the U.S.   The company must demonstrate it would realistically develop to the point where it would require the beneficiary to perform duties that are primarily managerial or executive in nature within one year. USCIS will review a proposed employee’s job duties, as well as the petitioner’s business and hiring plans and evidence that the business will grow sufficiently, to support a beneficiary in the intended managerial or executive capacity.

Intermittent L-1s

For those whose employment in the United States is seasonal or intermittent, or for those for less than 6 months per year, or those residing abroad and commuting to the U.S. for part-time work, the L status can be extended indefinitely. An employee must provide clear and convincing proof – such as, evidence such as arrival and departure records, copies of tax returns, records of employment abroad – that he or she qualifies for these exceptions.

By | 2020-02-05T18:24:01-08:00 January 21st, 2020|Joseph Barnett, L-1, Richard Yemm|Comments Off on L-1 Visa Applications 101

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