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There are many types of employment visas. However, at the Mulder Law Office the focus is Intracompany Transfers:The L-1 visa and its derivative visas. By limiting the focus to the L-1 only, our business clients receive more individual attention from an attorney who is not pulled in many directions but focused. If the L-1 is not the visa you are looking for we can refer you to other attorneys who focus on the area you are looking for. For clients who are not sure what type of employment visa best fits their needs, we offer an initial consultation at no cost.
Types of L-1 Visas
The L-1 visa has two subcategories: L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. L-1A status is valid for up to 7 years, L-1B for 5. After the expiration of the 7 or 5 years respectively, the alien must leave the United States for an aggregate of 365 days, and must work for a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the U.S. company during that time before becoming eligible to reapply for an L-1 visa.
There are two types of L-1 procedures:
- Regular L-1 visas, which must be applied for and approved for each individual by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and
- Blanket L-1 visas which are available to employers who hire large numbers of Intracompany Transferees every year.
For a regular L-1 visa, the company must file a petition with the USCIS and each petition is evaluated on its own merits. In the case of a blanket L-1 visa petition, it has already been determined by USCIS that the company qualifies for the issuance of Intracompany Transferee visa, so the individual visa applicant need only file a copy of the approved blanket petition, along with documents supporting their personal qualifications, with the U.S. consulate or embassy having jurisdiction over their place of residence proving the applicant’s qualification.
The process begins with filing of a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and supporting documentation showing that both the U.S. company and the foreign affiliate meet the requirements set forth in the law and regulations.
Notice of approval is given by the USCIS on a Notice of Action, Form I-797. The approval notice is attached to the individual visa application. The visa application is filed with the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country having jurisdiction over their residence.
Applicants who are in the United States at the time of the filing may request a change of status from their present immigration status (i.e. visitor, student, etc.), so long as their current status has not expired. Upon application at the consulate or embassy, the spouse and children of the primary applicant who are under the age of 21 may be issued L-2 visas. Children of the primary L-1 can attend school. The spouse may work in the united States.
An I-797 Notice of Action showing the approval of the visa petition does not guarantee that a visa will be issued at the U.S. consulate or embassy, but L-1 visas are normally approved if the consular officer concludes that the individual is qualified and that both the U.S. company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch are legitimate.
Basis for visa denial:
A consular officer may deny the issuance of an L-1 visa in cases where the officer determines the U.S. company that filed the L-1 petition may not be qualified, or that the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch outside the United States is not qualified or does not intend to continue in business after L-1 visa issuance, or that USCIS approved the petition based on a fraud committed by the company or the visa applicant, or that the applicant is ineligible for that class of visa under section 212(a) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In addition, the consular officer may request that the underlying petition be reconsidered by USCIS.
For an L-1 visa applicant, “Dual Intent” is allowed: Unlike some classes of non-immigrant visas (e.g., J-1 visas), L-1 applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the United States, or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon.
If the person is a Canadian citizen applying for admission as an L-1 under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the petition may be filed at the port of entry when the person applies for admission.
L-1 status may be renewed and extended within the United States. Except in the case of blanket petitions, a new I-129 petition must be filed. Renewal in the United States applies to status only, not the actual visa in the passport. For visa renewal, the applicant must go to a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the United States. An alien cannot leave the United States and then reenter without a valid L-1 visa, and must appear personally before a consular officer for visa issuance. This often leads to difficulties for applicants, because it means leaving their adopted home in the United States for as long as it takes the embassy to issue their new visa. In particularly busy times of year, or at some consulates or embassies, this can take several weeks or more.
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