L-1 (Intra-Company Transfer Visa)
The L-1, intra-company transfer visa, is for companies who want to transfer an employee from an overseas office to the company’s U.S. office for a temporary period of time. Executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge who have worked for the overseas company for at least one continuous year of the most recent three years can qualify. The job with the overseas company must have been in either a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge role. The company the employee worked for overseas must be either a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the U.S. company.
The L-1A is for employees offered a job in either a managerial or executive capacity. A manager can qualify by either supervising other professionals, or by managing an essential function of the organization. A "first-line supervisor" is not considered to be a manager for L-1A purposes, even if they are managing other people.
An executive can qualify for an L-1A if: 1) they direct the management of the organizationor of a major function of the organization, 2) they establish goals and policies of the organization, 3) they exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision-making, and 4) they receive only general supervision or direction from higher level executives or a board of directors.
An employee can establish that they have "specialized knowledge" and qualify for an L-1B if they can demonstrate that either: 1) they have special knowledge of the organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management, and that the special knowledge has an application in international markets, or 2) that they have an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures. Although the knowledge does not need to be proprietary, it should not be commonly known and should be significantly complex.
L-1 employees can obtain an initial period of stay of up to three years. An L-1 employee can have their period of stay extended in two-year increments, with the maximum total time as an L-1A (manager or executive) being seven years and the maximum total time as an L-1B (specialized knowledge) being five years.
Spouses of L-1 visa holders can apply for work authorization to work in the U.S. as well.