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Visas For Executive Or Managerial Transferees To U.S. Corporate Operations

Portions of the content on this page are available as public information on the USCIS website.

Criteria for Eligibility

The L-1A visa program allows an overseas company to transfer a high-level manager or executive to work in the U.S. The L-1A visa can be used by an overseas company to transfer a high-level executive or manager to the U.S. to start a new U.S. company or to acquire and operate an existing one. The L-1A can be granted for up to 7 years (initial L-1A will be one to three years; extensions in two-year increments).

In order to obtain L-1A visa approval, applicants must provide evidence of the qualifying business operations and relationship of the overseas company, U.S. company, and the executive/manager:

  • Evidence that the overseas company has been in business for over a year and has a qualifying corporate relationship with the U.S. business;
  • Evidence that the L-1A beneficiary has been employed as a high-level executive or manager with the overseas company for at least 1 out of the past 3 years and will be employed in a similar role in the U.S.;
  • Evidence that the U.S. company is owned or controlled by the overseas parent company or shareholder and needs the L-1A beneficiary to oversee or manage its U.S. operations; and
  • Note that if the U.S. company is a new business, then evidence must be submitted to show that the company has secured sufficient premises and financing to begin operations shortly after filing, including evidence that it has either leased or owns sufficient space to begin business.

Application Process

Applicants will first to need to file an I-129 petition to request L-A status with USCIS. Second, once the L-1A is approved, the foreign national can complete the L-1A process either in the U.S. or overseas.

If the foreign national(s) are already inside the United States in another nonimmigrant status, they can file their L-1A petition as a change of status petition. This means that upon approval of the L-1A petition, the foreign national(s) will automatically be in L-1A status.

Applying for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

If the foreign national(s) are outside of the United States, they will need to apply for a L-1A visa in their passport before they can enter the United States to work in L-1A status. To apply for the L-1A visa, the foreign national will need to complete the U.S. Department of State’s online visa application—DS-160, pay the visa fee, and schedule the visa appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. If the visa appointment is successful, the foreign national will receive the L-1A visa in their passport. They will be able to enter the United States using the L-1A visa in their passport and the I-797 Notice of Approval from USCIS.

Validity Period

Eligibility Category Initial Period Extensions of Stay Maximum Period of Stay
New Business (Startup) One year Two-year increments 7 years
Existing  Business (already operating over a year) Three years Two-year increments 7 years

Family of Visa Holder

Dependents of L-1A visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) can accompany them to the U.S.. Spouses are eligible for work authorization and children are able to attend school.

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