Getting the opportunity to work in the United States is not as straightforward as some of us might have hoped, even if it’s on a temporary basis. The process becomes even trickier when you realize that the United States offers a variety of work visas, but the requirements of each type are vastly different. Thankfully, if you’re an employee in a managerial or executive capacity working in a foreign company, you can get the opportunity to work in the United States with minimal requirements by acquiring an L1A Visa.
It is easy to get confused with complicated visa requirements. Contact Florida Immigration Law Counsel today to get in-depth guidance and help. We ensure that the entire process is smooth and there are no missteps.
Before you begin the application procedure for this Visa, it is crucial to get yourself acquainted with its terms and requirements. Read on to know everything about the L1A visa.
What is an L1A Visa?
An L1A visa allows an executive or manager from an affiliated foreign office to be transferred to an office based in the United States by an American employer. It is meant for temporary intracompany transfers of people working in managerial or executive capacities. Through this, foreign companies that want to establish their presence in the United States could send their representative to the country via an L1A visa. It is beneficial both to the foreign companies and foreign workers, who want to expand their operations and grow their business in America.
There are many benefits of having an L1A visa, both to the employer sending the high-level employees and the employees themselves.
Who is eligible for an L1A Visa?
The eligibility requirements for an L1A Visa are basic, unlike some of the other work visas offered by the United States.
Eligibility for Employees
- The employee should have worked in a foreign country for an MNC (Multinational Corporation) for at least one continuous year within three years before their entry to the U.S.
- The employee must either have a managerial or an executive post in the company that they are working for.
As an executive, the employee must be equipped to make wide-ranging decisions without supervision. This means, as an executive, you will be expected to manage the affairs of the company directly with utmost competence and ensure that things are always in order.
Under the L1 Visa, a manager is someone who is entrusted to manage the employees and affairs of the company through supervision and control. Moreover, they should also be competent enough to supervise all the firm’s departments, sub-departments, functions, and components.
- In extension to the previous requirement, their transfer to the United States must be in the capacity of a managerial or an executive post.
- The employee must be intent on leaving the country once their allowed stay in the U.S has lapsed.
Eligibility for the Company
- There must be a qualifying relationship between the U.S. branch of the company and the parent company.
- If the company is seeking to establish a new office, there must be enough physical space for the same.
How long is the L1 Visa valid for?
L1 Visas are issued for relatively short periods of time, which is why it is easier to acquire them. The minimum validity period of this Visa is three years. However, it can be extended if requested. This right could be exercised if the employer and the employee deem it necessary. After the expiry of the initial period, an employee could be granted an extension of two years. The employee could seek extensions until they reach the maximum stay limit of seven years in the case of L1A Visa and five years in the case of L1-B Visa. Under the L-1 blanket petition, the employees will be granted the same three-year validity, after the expiry of which the company, that is, the petitioner, will be required to request an extension. However, if they want to extend the stay of a particular employee, they would be required to file an individual L-1 petition. The process of acquiring an extension is fairly similar to that of applying for the first time. For this, the employer will need to file a new I-129S form.
The Advantages of an L1A Visa
- The holder of an L1A Visa is allowed to work, live, and legally travel anywhere within the bounds of the United States.
- People dependent on the L1A Visa holder, such as a spouse, children, or other family members, could accompany the manager and executive to the United States and legally reside in the country. Moreover, if they could qualify for Employment Authorization Documents, they will also be allowed to work in the United States. This benefit can come in handy if you have a working spouse or child.
- Compared to some other work visas available to foreign professionals, the visa requirements for L1A are low, making it easier to get. For instance, the Visa doesn’t require you to be an exemplary employee at your company, with various work awards to your name and a lofty salary. Instead, an L1A Visa only requires the applicant to be a manager or an executive in a multinational firm, providing the opportunity to work in the U.S. to numerous foreign employees and immigrants.
- Applicants who do not have an educational degree can qualify for the Visa, too, as opposed to some of the other work visas.
- After working for a while on the Visa, the holders could also apply for permanent residency in the U.S.
- It can also benefit the employers, as they can establish a branch of their company in the United States through the manager or the executive they send. Although certain limitations come with the process of establishing a new office, the advantages certainly triumph over the disadvantages, and it allows the firm to expand its operations to one of the biggest economies in the world.
- The prime benefit of an L1A Visa to employers is the feature of a blanket petition. With it, a single petition could be filed under which a company could transfer a select group of employees in managerial and executive capacities. This feature is invaluable for companies that want to transfer several employees to the United States in a short period. For this, the employer is supposed to file an I-129 form, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The form will be used to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), who consider the L-1 to be “dual intent.” A string of documents will need to be submitted to trigger the process, including the prior L-1 approval notice, the I-94 card, the L-1 visa copy, the W-2 form’s confirmation, and more.
The Disadvantages of an L1A Visa
Must be an Employee of a Multinational Company
An L1A Visa makes it mandatory for the applicant to be an employee of only an MNC. This assures that the firm is in a good position to establish its office in the country. Another requirement is that the MNC already has an office in the United States or plans to establish a branch or subsidiary there. If these two conditions are met, only then could you apply for this type of Visa.
No Extension to the Maximum Stay Period
An L1A Visa provides the applicant with an opportunity to work in the U.S.A. for up to seven years. No extension on this period could be granted to the employee for any reason whatsoever. This is one disadvantage of L1A against other kinds of work visas that allow extensions beyond that period. L1A holders are only granted an extension of two years after their original three-year period lapses up to seven years. After the expiry of this period, the holder will have two options: a) transfer their status or b) apply for a fresh L1A Visa.
Entrepreneurship is Disallowed
L1A Visa holders cannot start their own business while residing in the United States. You can only work for the company that is sponsoring your employment and stay in the country, and not work at any other firm, or start your own.
Which Visa is better, L1A or L1B?
Under the L-1 Visa, there are two types: L1A and L1B. The L1A is granted to employees who assume the roles and duties of an executive of the company or a manager. On the other hand, L1B is granted to those employees who have specialized knowledge and skills. The difference between the two also lies in the duration of the stay. With an L1A Visa, an employee could stay and work in the United States for up to seven years, while employees with L1B Visa can stay and work in the country for up to five years. When you consider these factors, an L1A visa could be regarded as better because it offers a wider validity period. Another reason why the L1A visa is better is that the employee can apply for a green card in the EB1 category without completing the Permanent Labor Certification. They can receive it within one year. On the other hand, L1B holders will need to apply for labor certification but can still apply for permanent residency. This also gives more power to the L1A Visa.
Wrapping your head around the complicated procedure of acquiring a U.S Visa can be tricky. However, getting yourself acquainted with the ins and outs of the specific Visa you are seeking can be immensely helpful and can make things go smoother. It is easy to get intimidated since entry to the USA has gotten more complicated and tougher with time. Contact Florida Immigration Law Counsel to set up a consultation of your case.