The L-1 work visa allows certain employees to transfer from an office outside of the U.S. to the U.S. office of a related company, such as a parent, a subsidiary, a branch, an affiliate, or a sister company. In this post, find out why you might want to consider the L-1 visa over other visa categories and if your company or employees qualify.
When considering moving your business to the U.S., there are a lot of visa categories that may or may not work for you. One option is the L-1, which is a work visa that allows certain employees to transfer from an office outside of the U.S. to the U.S. office of a related company, such as a parent, a subsidiary, a branch, an affiliate, or a sister company. To qualify for the L-1A, you must be a manager or executive at a foreign company, and to qualify for the L-1B, you must have “specialized knowledge.” Check out our FAQs about the L-1A and the L-1B to learn more.
You might be wondering, what are the advantages of the L-1? Why should I choose this over other visa categories if my company and employees qualify? Here are some advantages of the L-1 visa to take into account:
Easy work authorization for spouses of L-1 employees
The L-1 allows the approved employees to come to the U.S. to live and work, but it also makes it extremely easy for spouses of L-1 holders to work in the U.S. Other work visas, such as the O-1, do not provide work authorization for spouses, which can pose challenges for L-1 employees who are married. In March 2022 it became even easier for spouses of L-1 visa holders to begin working. Read more about L-2 dependent visa.
Relatively simple qualifications
One of the most well-known work visas, the H-1B, requires applicants to have an advanced degree relating to their work. The E-2 visa requires the applicant to invest a large amount of money into a U.S. company. Other visas, like the TN visa, are only available to individuals from certain countries. If you don’t have a degree that qualifies you for an H-1B, can’t invest in a U.S. company, and aren’t from a country with a special visa requirement, the L-1 might be a better fit for you.
The O-1A visa is a popular option for many startup founders. However, it requires the applicant to show that they have demonstrated “extraordinary abilities” by meeting at least three of eight specific criteria. It is worth looking into the O-1A visa if the H-1B, E-2, and TN don’t work for your situation, but the reality is that not all people qualify for it right away.
On the other hand, the L-1 visa has pretty straightforward requirements if the employee has worked for a foreign company for at least one year in certain roles and intends to transfer to a related U.S. company.
No wage requirement
Some U.S. work visas require employers to pay visa holders a certain wage. This can be tricky if the company is a startup and cannot meet the wage requirements. The L-1 has no wage requirements, making it more flexible for visa applicants and employers.
There is no limit on the number of L-1 visas issued and no lottery system, like the H-1B. This gives employees and employers the assurance that if they do qualify for the visa, there aren't as many outside factors that could serve as roadblocks, such as annual caps on the number of visas approved, or lotteries.
Dual intent allows nonimmigrant visa holders to remain present in the U.S. with the possibility of filing immigrant petitions and adjusting their status. In other words, dual intent enables you to work on a temporary visa such as an L-1 while also filing a green card petition for permanent residency. This is not the case with all visas, but L-1s allow for dual intent, which creates a path to green cards and eventually citizenship.
Instead of having to wait months while the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews your L-1 petition, you have the option to pay extra for premium processing. With premium processing, L-1 petitions are adjudicated by USCIS in 15 calendar days, which can be highly advantageous if you’re on a strict timeline.
Blanket petitions for larger employers
Employers that employ over 1,000 U.S. workers or have a combined revenue of $25 million can file blanket L-1 petitions for numerous employees. A blanket petition is a single petition that can be filed for multiple people. This can significantly simplify the process for certain employers looking to bring over a large number of employees from their foreign entities.
These advantages make the L-1 visa an option worth considering. Connect with our team if you’d like to discuss the L-1 or other visa options.