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Table of Contents

What’s the difference between an L-1A visa and an L-1B visa?

How long can someone stay in the US on an L-1A visa?

What are the eligibility criteria for an L-1A visa?

How does the L-1A visa process work?

How can companies comply with L-1A visa regulations?

What is the role of an L-1A visa holder in a team or business?

What are the benefits of the L-1A visa for businesses?

Are there legal or compliance issues with an L-1A visa?

How does the L-1A visa make global hiring easier?

What strategies improve the success rate of L-1A visa petitions?

Are there country-specific limitations of an L-1A visa?

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

What is the L-1A visa

The L-1A visa is a non-immigrant visa category in the United States designed for intra-company transfers. It is intended for individuals who occupy managerial or executive positions in a company outside the US and are being transferred to a related US office.

As stated in the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance (chapter 4): “EXECUTIVE CAPACITY means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization.
  2. Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function.
  3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making.
  4. Receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.”

This visa aids the relocation of key personnel who will oversee the establishment or continued operation of an affiliated office in the US It provides a legal pathway for international companies to manage and grow their operations across borders without losing the skills and experience of key employees.

Eligible employees must have been employed by the foreign company for at least one continuous year within the three years prior to their transfer to the United States. The US entity must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company, such as a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate relationship.

The L-1A visa is particularly useful to companies looking to expand into the US market, allowing them to bring in executives and managers with intimate knowledge of the company’s operations. These transferees can then ensure the US branch adheres to the organization’s standards and practices.

This visa also provides a pathway to a green card under certain conditions, making it a valuable option for foreign nationals seeking to immigrate to the United States.

What’s the difference between an L-1A visa and an L-1B visa?

The L-1A visa targets high-level employees who manage an organization, department, subdivision, or function of the organization. These employees exercise significant authority, making wide-reaching decisions with minimal oversight.

They are responsible for setting goals, structuring the company, hiring and firing staff, and other high-level duties. An L-1A visa holder typically has a broader remit, focused on the management and strategic direction of the company.

By contrast, the L-1B visa is issued to those who possess specialized knowledge related to the organization’s products, services, research, equipment, or other aspects of its operation.

These employees are crucial for their technical expertise or their deep comprehension of the company’s processes and procedures. The focus of an L-1B visa is more on the knowledge that the employee brings rather than their managerial or executive abilities.

How long can someone stay in the US on an L-1A visa?

An L-1A visa allows eligible applicants to reside in the United States for an initial period of up to three years. This term can be extended to a total of seven years. For a newly established office, L-1A visas are granted for a single year, with the potential for extension.

These timescales are designed to enable the day-to-day operations and management of an organization within the US, allowing enough time for executives or managers to establish a new office or strengthen an existing one.

During this period, the visa holders are expected to manage an essential function of the organization, exercise latitude in decision-making, and receive limited supervision from higher level executives or the board of directors.

What are the eligibility criteria for an L-1A visa?

To qualify for an L-1A visa, the applicant must:

  • Have been employed by a qualifying foreign organization for at least one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding their application.
  • Hold a managerial or executive position both in the non-US and the US entities. They must supervise professional or managerial employees, or manage an essential function, department, or subdivision of the organization.
  • The applicant must also oversee day-to-day operations and make decisions on a wide range of issues with minimal supervision.

💡 Need to check a candidate’s visa eligibility before creating an employment contract? With Deel’s Immigration platform, you can run a visa eligibility check in seconds. Alternatively, schedule a call with a Deel Immigration expert to establish the best visa route for you or a potential new hire.

How does the L-1A visa process work?

The L-1A visa application process includes several steps.

First the US employer files a petition on behalf of the employee with USCIS. This petition must demonstrate that the employee has held a managerial or executive role and possesses specialized knowledge critical to the company’s operations.

Upon approval, the employee can apply for the visa, which involves an interview at a US embassy or consulate and the payment of set fees. During an immigration interview the applicant must provide evidence of their responsibilities, seniority and job offer.

The applicant must show that they can contribute significantly to the management or establishment of an organization’s office or function in the United States.

💡 With Deel Immigration, the L-1A visa application process is seamless. Deel’s legal team and attorneys will handle all the paperwork, facilitate consular visa stamping, and provide dedicated one-on-one support for the applicant and any accompanying family members.

See also: Enterprise Employee Visa: Your Essential Application Guide

How can companies comply with L-1A visa regulations?

For L-1A visas, which are intended for employees with specialized knowledge, companies must prove that the prospective visa holder possesses knowledge of an advanced level that is pivotal to the organization’s competitiveness in the marketplace.

Compliance requires detailed documentation of the employee’s knowledge and its application within the company, as well as evidence that their skills are unique and not readily transferable to another individual.

The onus is on the sponsoring company to demonstrate that no current US employee could fulfil the role being transferred.

💡 Deel’s EOR visa sponsorship service provides a simple and accelerated solution to visa sponsorship. Businesses can hire and relocate employees and their dependents to the US without opening a local entity for a streamlined and hands-off visa procurement process.

What is the role of an L-1A visa holder in a team or business?

An L-1A visa holder is typically involved in critical operations within their organization, where their unique knowledge or skills play a central role in the company’s core activities.

Such employees are essential to the transfer of specialized knowledge to the US workforce, enhancing the company’s US skillset, particularly in situations where such skills cannot otherwise be obtained.

Such applicants are, in effect, the “global talent” of the executive class, who cannot easily be substituted or replaced.

What are the benefits of the L-1A visa for businesses?

The L-1A visa offers numerous benefits to businesses. It helps maintain management continuity, protects the transfer of proprietary information and culture, and supports the expansion of business into the US market.

This visa category also allows businesses to bring in professionals who have a deep understanding of the company’s operations, which can be critical for setting up new international branches or subsidiaries. This reduces the set-up time and means the new office can get up to speed with greater ease.

“Deel gives us access to hiring people in a compliant way, anywhere. Those are people that we wouldn’t have been able to hire without Deel, as we wouldn’t be able to open an entity in every country where we wanted to hire someone. It also enables us to be close to our customers, they are all over the world, so we need to be there too. ”—Sanna Westman, Head of People at Planhat

See also: A Guide to Finding Global Talent

Legal and compliance issues with the L-1A visa typically involve ensuring that the visa holders adhere to the strict criteria set forth for managerial and executive roles.

It is crucial for companies to maintain accurate records demonstrating that the visa holder is not only performing tasks that require specialized knowledge but is also making significant contributions to the management or establishment of major functions within the company.

There is provision under immigration law, for the spouse and unmarried children of the applicant to apply for a related L-2 visa, so that they may be granted residency for the same period as the applicant (if successful). Form I-539 must be completed to apply for an L2 visa.

See also: Worldwide Visa Support for Dependents: A Guide for Businesses

How does the L-1A visa make global hiring easier?

The L-1A visa simplifies the process of bringing key managerial and executive personnel to the US, aiding companies in maintaining a global presence.

It allows for a smoother transition for foreign nationals to work in the US, facilitating the global mobility of skilled workers. It increases the opportunity to build a multinational and diverse executive pool within a company.

For instance, Deel assisted esports and gambling company Esports Entertainment with recent corporate acquisitions, providing a platform for monitoring visa progress (including L-1A visas for executives brought in from overseas).

What strategies improve the success rate of L-1A visa petitions?

Strategies to improve the success rate of L-1A visa petitions include:

  • A thorough preparation of documentation required to prove the managerial or executive nature of the role, i.e. performance reviews
  • Detailed descriptions of the employee’s job duties that highlight their management skills, i.e. up-to-date job description and person specification
  • Evidence of the company’s substantial business activities in both the US and abroad, i.e. AGM minutes, annual report, strategic plans
  • Using an online immigration platform, such as Deel’s, to oversee progress and ensure each step is completed in a timely manner
  • Applications should be made at least a year (six months with the payment of premium processing fees) prior to any intended relocation

Ensuring that all information is consistent across documents and aligns with USCIS requirements is also crucial.

💡 Deel Immigration is the leading US immigration provider. With more than a 90% approval rate, their team of in-house immigration experts is ready to fast-track your visa application so you can move to the US and start your next adventure.

Are there country-specific limitations of an L-1A visa?

While there are no country-specific quotas or limitations for the L-1A visa, administrative processing times and the scrutiny of applications can vary significantly from one country to another. This will depend upon the US consulate’s policies and the political relationship between the two countries.

It’s important for companies and applicants to be aware of these potential variations and prepare accordingly.

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

Deel Immigration is transforming the immigration process, offering candidates a premier experience that blends cutting-edge technology with human touch, ensuring a transparent and smooth immigration journey.

Deel’s user-friendly platform offers self-serve functionality, an application status timeline, real-time status updates, access to a dedicated case manager, and exclusive relocation services, keeping you well-informed and supported at every turn.

Connect with the Deel immigration team today to expedite the visa process for yourself or a team member.

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