L-1 Intra-Company Transferee

The intra-company transfer provision is a long-standing visa category designed to allow international firms, whether U.S. or foreign, with operations in the United States and abroad to exchange personnel on a temporary basis.  The original impetus for the program was to allow for the mobility of management personnel, but the program quickly expanded to include personnel with "specialized knowledge" of the company's operations.  In order to qualify to file an L-1 visa petition, the U.S. employer must be a branch, subsidiary, parent, or affiliate of a foreign company and the foreign national employee must have worked for such foreign company for at least one year prior to such employee’s arrival in the United States.

L-1A visas are designed for intra-company transferees in managerial or executive positions.  The L-1B category covers specialized knowledge personnel who possess an advanced level of expertise and proprietary knowledge of the company's products, services, research activities, in-house procedures and processes, management or other interests of the company that are not readily available in the U.S. labor market.  An individual can remain in the United States for a maximum of seven (7) consecutive years under the L-1A visa status or five (5) consecutive years under the L-1B visa status.


  • Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • Has authority to hire and fire or perform other personnel actions; and
  • Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity.

  • Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • Sets the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

  • Possesses knowledge that is valuable to the employer's competitiveness in the market place;
  • Is uniquely qualified to contribute to the U.S. employer's knowledge of foreign operating conditions;
  • Has been utilized as a key employee abroad and has been given significant assignments which have enhanced the employer's productivity, competitiveness, image or financial position;
  • Possesses knowledge which can be gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.

"Frequent User Pass"——Blanket L-1 Petition

An L-1 Blanket Petition is an expedited program for large multi-national corporations that are frequent users of the L-1 visa program.  The regular L-1 process is a two-step process where the employer first files and obtains USCIS approval for each intra-company transferee before the employee schedules a consulate visa interview.  Under the procedure for the Blanket L-1 program, an employer only files for one approval form from the USCIS to transfer an unspecified number of managerial/executive employees and professionals with specialized knowledge.  After the approval, each time the employer seeks to transfer its qualifying employees through the Blanket L-1 procedure, the employees can immediately schedule a visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate Office and present the L-1 Blanket Approval Notice with the visa application.  This greatly reduces the processing time because it removes the need for the USCIS to adjudicate the individual L-1 petition.

L-1 Blanket status is available to a U.S. company and its related foreign entity if the U.S. employer meets the following qualifications: (1) it has a U.S. office and has been doing business in the U.S. for at least 1 year; (2) it has 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates; and (3) it has combined USD annual sales of $25 million, a U.S. workforce of 1,000 employees or at least 10 L approved petitions during the past year.

Green Card Eligibility

Individuals with an L-1 visa may also be eligible for a green card through employment.  If an individual served in a managerial or executive capacity for a qualifying foreign employer for at least one year and serves in a managerial or executive capacity in L-1A status in the United States, such individual will most likely qualify for an immigrant visa.  This is one of the fastest ways in which a foreign national can attain U.S. permanent residency.

H-1B v. L-1:

H-1B visas are an obvious choice for bringing in foreign talent to address labor shortages in the fields of IT Consulting, Healthcare, Engineering, etc.  The L-1 visas are available to companies that have offshore subsidiaries from which to bring qualified foreign employees to the U.S. Both categories allow for the individual visa holders to hold "dual intent" and pursue legal permanent residency in the U.S. while under H-1B/L-1 visa status.

While the L-1 category is very similar to H-1B, there are distinct benefits in utilizing the L-1 visa to promote talent mobility within international companies.  Through strategically placing their foreign workers in a suitable visa category, employers can achieve maximum business impact and competitive advantage in the global marketplace.  For further details, please contact us.