L-1A is a status used for Intracompany Transferees and Executive Managers. With this non-immigrant status, an employer from a foreign company can send an executive employee to the U.S. to work at an affiliate or sister organization or office. Or, if there is no office established in the U.S. yet, the executive or manager can be sent to the U.S. to set up the office.
Are you eligible? For starters, you need to ensure that the company in your home country has a relationship with the U.S. company or office. Some types of relationship include: parent or branch companies (the company you work for established a new business abroad or the company you work for was started by the one in the U.S.), sister company, or an affiliate. One of these types of relationships between the abroad office and U.S. office must exist.
Also, the employer in the U.S. must be doing business (or planning to do business) with the foreign affiliate office. This must be done while the employee is in America. “Doing business” means that the foreign company (the one you work for right now) supplies goods or services.
As an employee, you are eligible if you’ve been working at the office or for the company for at least 1 year before coming to the U.S. The year you worked must occur within 3 years before you plan to come to the U.S. You should have worked for one year nonstop, which means that you did not take extensive breaks from work during that year. So, if you work for 3 months at “Company A”, stop and pursue another job at “Company B”, then come back and work an additional 9 months at “Company A” – that might not count as one full year. Other breaks like holidays or vacations might be acceptable. Talk to an attorney to learn more.
If you come to the U.S. office to work as manager or executive, one of the following must be true about your job: you work without supervision or oversight, you manage a critical part of the company without a supervisor, or you supervise employees.
If you come to the U.S. to open an office, you must show evidence of where your office will be located and show that within a year of having your visa approved, the U.S. office will support an executive. You can stay for 1 year and this time can be extended by 2 years until you reach the maximum of 7 years. If you come to the U.S. to work as an executive, you can stay for 3 years and extend for 2 years at a time until you hit the 7 year mark.
Your employer will file Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
Have a family? Good news! Once approved, you can apply for your family to come to the U.S. They will use L-2 classification and can stay here for as long as you do. You can bring your spouse and and children that are not married and not over the age of 21. Your spouse can apply for and receive work authorization.
Family already here? They can still apply for L-2 classification. They will have a file I-539 and submit a fee.
This is by no means a complete guide on L-1A status. Every case is different. If you want to know about whether or not you are eligible to apply for this classification, contact Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim today.
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