L-1 visas are designed for employees who are being transferred within the same company to work in the United States. To be eligible for an L-1 visa, the employee must have been continuously employed abroad for at least one year within the past three years, and they must be employed by a branch, parent company, affiliate, or subsidiary of the same employer in the United States.

There are two options for obtaining an L-1 visa: individual petition or blanket petition.

The employee must qualify as either a specialized knowledge professional or an executive/manager.

The L-1A visa is intended for multinational businesses to transfer their managerial and executive personnel from foreign countries to the United States. It also allows a foreign company without an existing U.S. office to send an executive or manager to establish one.

The L-1B visa enables a U.S. employer to bring in a foreign worker who possesses specialized knowledge relevant to the organization's interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices. Similarly, it permits a foreign company without a U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to help establish one in the United States.

Blanket L Petitions, which allow for the pre-establishment of inter-company relationships, can be filed by certain organizations to streamline the process of filing individual L-1 petitions.

To be eligible for Blanket L Certification:

  • The employer and each qualifying organization must be engaged in commercial trade or services.
  • The employer must have a U.S. office that has been in operation for at least one year and must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates.
  • The employer must meet one of the following criteria:
    1. have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals in the previous 12 months along with other qualifying organizations or
    2. have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million, or
    3. have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

It's important to note that the approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee an employee's L-1 classification. However, it provides the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and without having to file individual petitions with USCIS. Once the blanket petition is approved, the employer typically only needs to complete Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and provide it to the employee along with a copy of the Blanket Petition Approval Notice and other required evidence. The employee can then present these documents to a consular officer when applying for the L-1 visa.

The application procedure for an L-1 visa is similar to that of an H-1B visa.

The U.S. employer files a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with the appropriate L Supplement to the Vermont Service Center. The petition must include evidence that the beneficiary has been employed overseas by the transferring organization for at least one year within the past three years and will continue working for the same organization in the U.S. The petitioner must demonstrate that the beneficiary will be filling an executive/managerial position or possesses specialized knowledge.

Once the petition is approved, the USCIS notifies the prospective employer and the relevant U.S. Embassy. The beneficiary can then proceed to submit their visa application to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

L-1 Visa FAQs


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