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USCIS Clarifies the L-1 One-Year Foreign Employment Requirement

The L-1 visa allows an American employer to transfer an executive or manager (L-1A) or an employee with specialized knowledge (L-1B) from a qualifying office abroad to one of its offices in the United States. It also means a foreign company that does not yet have an American office to send an executive to the United States to establish one.


The USCIS has published a memo clarifying that an organization must employ the individual abroad for one continuous year out of three before the time of petition filing for an L-1 visa. The L-1 beneficiary must be physically outside the United States during the required one year of employment abroad, though brief trips to the United States for any reason are permitted. The one year of foreign employment must occur within the three-year period preceding the date of filing for the L-1 visa.  For the sake of consistency and easier processing, the memo also helps clarify what time will be considered when determining when the three-year period begins, something the USCIS had no previous policy towards.


All requirements must be met by the time the petition for the L-1 visa is filed.