Visas in the "L" category permit foreign nationals who work for multinational companies to come to the United States to live and work for a limited time in order to provide important support to the business. There are two classes of L Visas, one for managers and owners of the company and another for skilled employees.
With an L-1 Visa, an individual can stay in the United States for up to five years. The family members (spouse and minor children) of an L-1 Visa holder can also join that person on an L-2 Visa, which provides work authorization as well.
Our San Francisco immigration attorney has used the L-1 Visa category to get a Green Card for immigrants who had money to invest but no current employment with a foreign company. If this is your situation, you may be a candidate for an L-1 Visa even if you are not working for a company as described below.
To qualify for this type of visa, you an individual must occupy a management-type position for at least one year out of the three most recent years. Your job must have been with a company that has offices both abroad and in the United States. Beyond that, it is basically a matter of working with a San Francisco immigration lawyer familiar with business visas to demonstrate convincingly that your skills are needed by your company in its U.S. office.
Visa holders in the L-1A category may renew their visa twice, staying in the country for three, then two, and then another two years for a total of seven years in the United States.
The other category of L-1 Visa is for employees who have special skills or knowledge that their company needs at the time. For instance, an employee from a foreign branch of a company may have developed a technique or software program that only she understands, and the company needs her to spend a few months or years training other employees in using it. Again, the company must have a U.S. presence as well as a foreign operation, and the employee must have worked at the company for at least one year out of the last three.
L-1B Visa aliens may renew their visa once after three years for an additional period of two years, totaling five years of stay.
L-1 visa filings were once familiar territory. The statute and regulations provided a useful roadmap, and practitioners were once comfortable navigating it with ease and efficiency. However, as more experienced L-1 visa practitioners know, changes in the L-1 process in recent years necessitate changes in the way one approaches the L-1 process. Whereas the familiar guide provided by statutory, regulatory and judicial law was once sufficient; recent regulatory and policy changes have laid landmines, dug potholes, and strewn debris across the road, causing even the most experienced traveler to require a careful trek. In order to survive the journey on this once-familiar landscape, now we must also pay attention to issues related to national security, fraud, politics, economics, various administrative directives, internal agency guidance into the L-1 diet in order to survive.
In light of these many issues, all practitioners need to revisit how they draft L-1 petitions, and as well, what they seek from the petitioner and beneficiary in the course of advising on L-1 petitions. And while the filing location and/or the A or B classification was often not in need of extensive analysis, in today's environment, it is. Recent procedural changes at USCIS make the Request for Additional Evidence ("RFE") more of an exception than a rule. And once filed and approved, what later issues should be anticipated. While this discussion will focus overall on Service Center Based Filings, the overall guidance might add value to other filings as well.
To find out if the L Category visa is a good option for you, please contact our San Francisco immigration attorney today for a free consultation.