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L - Intracompany Transferee

The L visa is designed for inter company  transference holding executive or managerial positions or who are considered essential employees with specialized knowledge. The employee must have been employed abroad (outside of the U.S.) for one continuous year within the past three years. The employee must be coming to the U.S. to work for the same employer, or a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary thereof. The position in the U.S. need not be the same as the employer held abroad, but the position must be for a manager, executive or an essential employee with specialized knowledge.

The relationship between the foreign company and its US counterpart must be established. For example, the companies can be related to one another in a parent/subsidiary or affiliate capacity.

An L-1A visa is intended for an employee in an executive or managerial position. An L-1B visa is intended for an employee who possesses specialized knowledge of the company's product or expertise in the company's processes or procedures. The maximum term for an L-1A is 7 years, while the maximum term for an L-1B is 5 years.

Companies that need to obtain L visas in order to transfer employees on a frequent basis may prefer to file a "Blanket L-1" which allows the company to request L visas for several employees at once, rather than filing a petition for each employee separately. Once a company is found qualified, all intercompany transfers involving eligible managers, executives, and professionals with specialized knowledge may be petitioned for under a Blanket L-1.

Note that non-professional foreign employees are not eligible - the employee must have received at least a baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent. Employers seeking to transfer non-professional employees with specialized knowledge are not able to use the Blanket L-1 petition for that employee, and therefore, must file a separate petition. Otherwise, employee requirements and term of an L-1 blanket visa are the same as a non-blanket L-1 visa (whether L-1A or L-1B).

The petitioning employer (whether parent company, affiliate, branch, or subsidiary) will generally need to be a large multinational corporation as it must meet the following requirements:
1) the petitioning employer and its entities must be engaged in commercial trade or services;
2) the petitioning employer has an office in the U.S. that has been in operation for at least one year;
3) the petitioning employer has at least 3 branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates located in the U.S. and abroad; AND
4) the petitioning employer must have at least one of the following:
a) obtained L-1 approval for at least 10 managers, executives, or professionals with specialized knowledge over the preceding 12 months;
b) have subsidiaries or affiliates located in the U.S. with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; OR
c) has a workforce located in the U.S. of at least 1,000 employees.

There is no cap on the amount of L visas that can be allocated each year.

* * * * *
Statutory authorization for this type of non-immigrant visa can be found in Section 101(a)(15)(L) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(L)) at the following link:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/usc.cgi?ACTION=RETRIEVE&FILE=$$xa$$busc8.wais&start=134104&SIZE=314774&TYPE=TEXT.
The requirements are further detailed in 8 CFR § 214.2(l), and available at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2008/janqtr/pdf/8cfr214.2.pdf.

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