- 持L2签证的配偶自动获得不受限制的工作许可，而无需向 USCIS 申请EAD工卡（尽管如此，他们仍然可以申请EAD工卡以作为身份证件）
The L1 is a type of non-immigrant work visa that might be a suitable choice for individuals working in multinational companies who are willing to be internally transferred to work in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants these temporary visas to executives, managers, or individuals with specialized knowledge. The L1 visa was established by the U.S. Congress in 1970 to enable employers to efficiently transfer their internal staff to work in the United States. Additionally, foreign nationals holding an L1A visa may be eligible for the EB-1C green card.
Two Types of L1 Visas
For individuals working in multinational companies, they may qualify for either the L1A or L1B visa.
The L1A visa is available for executives or managers who have worked for at least one year continuously within the past three years in a multinational company. USCIS defines executives as individuals with the authority to make broad decisions without much supervision. Qualified managers should supervise professional employees, be in charge of at least one department, or manage a critical function of the business.
The L1B visa is an alternative for those with specialized knowledge related to the interests of the multinational company. Generally, USCIS considers individuals eligible for the L1B visa if they possess advanced knowledge related to the company’s production, processes, or international markets.
Eligibility Requirements for L1 Intracompany Transferee Visa
To obtain the L1A or L1B intracompany transferee visa, both the multinational company and the prospective employee must meet specific requirements.
Requirements for the Multinational Company
Generally, a company in the U.S. may qualify for L1 visas if it meets two criteria:
It has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate).
While the L1 employee will work in the U.S., the company should be conducting regular business in the U.S. and at least one other country.
Requirements for the L1 Employee
Whether an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge professional, the prospective L1 employee must fulfill several qualifying criteria. To meet the requirements for the L1A or L1B visa, the intracompany transferee should have worked continuously for at least one year within the past three years in the multinational company and in an executive, managerial, or specialized role.
Advantages of Obtaining the L1 Visa
Compared to other non-immigrant visas, the L1 visa offers several advantages:
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 can obtain L2 visas, and spouses can automatically receive unrestricted work authorization without needing to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (although they can still apply for an EAD card as an identification document).
Children holding L2 visas can attend public schools until they reach 21 years of age.
The L1 visa is not subject to numerical caps and can be applied for immediately, unlike certain visas such as the H-1B visa, which have numerical limits and specific annual application periods.
The L1A visa can be granted for a total of 7 years, and the L1B visa for a total of 5 years.
Eligible employers can apply for the L1 blanket petition.
The L1A visa may assist in obtaining the EB-1C green card.
L1 Visa Application Process
The first step in the L1 visa application process is for the U.S. employer to complete the I-129 form and submit it to USCIS along with supporting documents. The employer may seek the assistance of an L1 visa attorney to prepare the application package. If USCIS determines that the application meets the requirements for the L1 visa and approves it, the prospective employee can apply for the L1 visa at the U.S. consulate in their home country. If the intracompany transferee is in lawful status in the U.S. at the time of filing the I-129 and requests a change of status on the form and has not departed the U.S. since the filing, the employee’s status will be directly changed to L1 status. However, if the L1 employee departs the U.S., they must obtain the L1 visa to re-enter the U.S. as an L1 visa holder.
L1 Visa Extension Application
The initial validity period of the L1 intracompany transferee visa is usually between 1 to 3 years, depending on the type of L1 and the circumstances of the applying company. Nevertheless, individuals can apply for an extension of the L1 visa. The process of applying for an extension is similar to the initial L1 visa application, requiring the submission of the I-129 form and relevant supporting documents to USCIS.
L1 Visa Blanket Petition
Companies that have obtained 10 or more L1 intracompany transferee visas for their foreign employees within one year or meet specific size or asset criteria may consider applying for an L1 visa blanket petition. Competent visa attorneys experienced with L1 blanket petitions can provide advice to companies that believe they meet the criteria.
Transition from L1 Visa to Green Card
L1A Visa to Green Card
The L1 visa is a non-immigrant work visa in the U.S. and not a green card. However, individuals holding an L1A visa may be eligible to apply for the EB-1C green card, also known as the multinational manager or executive green card. While it is not a requirement to have an L1A visa before applying for EB-1C green card, having an L1A visa may be advantageous.
The EB-1C green card is often considered an alternative to the EB-5 immigrant investor green card. For entrepreneurs who have established businesses overseas, EB-1C might be a viable immigration option. After serving as an executive in a foreign company, the individual can establish a new or similar company in the U.S. and obtain a one-year L-1A visa to enter the U.S. for business purposes. After one year or more of successful operation in the U.S. branch, the entrepreneur may consider submitting the I-140 form to USCIS to apply for the EB-1C multinational manager or executive green card.
Submitting the I-140 form is only the first step in the green card application process. To ultimately obtain the green card, the L-1A visa holder should submit the I-485 form to USCIS. If the priority date is current, both the I-485 and I-140 forms can be filed concurrently. Otherwise, the I-485 form must wait for the priority date to become current before it can be filed.
The entire process from L-1A visa to green card can take approximately 3-6 years. During this time, the foreign company and the U.S. company must maintain the qualifying relationship and continue to operate.
L1B Visa to Green Card
L1B visa holders are not eligible to apply for the EB-1C green card. However, they may be eligible to apply for green cards in the EB-2 (foreign nationals with advanced degrees/special abilities) or EB-3 (skilled workers, professionals, and other workers) categories.
Unlike EB-1C, their employer will need to obtain a Labor Certification (PERM) from the Department of Labor, which will be submitted together with the I-140 form.
Similar to EB-1C, L1B visa holders applying for green cards based on EB-2 or EB-3 must wait for the priority date to become current before filing the I-485 application.
The time for L1B visa holders to obtain a green card can vary significantly due to the waiting time for the priority date. For example, applicants born in India may have to wait for over 10 years, while those born in Germany may only wait for about a year or even have no waiting time at all. In any case, consulting an experienced attorney before applying is advisable.