L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa 2021

The L-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign company transfer workers who are in managerial or executive positions (or have specialized knowledge) in the foreign company to be able to work in a branch office located in the United States.

This allows small, medium or large foreign companies to be able to expand and to provide their services in the United States.

The L-1 Visa was initially designed for large multinational companies to transfer workers to U.S., however, if structured properly, smaller companies abroad may qualify to expand their business and services to the U.S. market, using L-1 Visa category.  The L-1 Visa category allows existing companies anywhere in the world (other than Iran and North Korea) to have a Subsidiary, or “Sister” Company in the U.S., provided the foreign company has an established history of existence (i.e. history of tax payment, employee records, established, and proven business activities). 

Sample of recent approvals after Travel Ban (PP9645)

Side by side comparison of Investment options in U.S.

 E-2L-1EB-5 (Regional Center)EB-5 (Direct)
Investment Amount (USD)No minimum.
Any amount
sufficient to buy
or create a business
No minimum.  Any amount
sufficient to buy
or create a business
$900,000 at TEA* zone
$1.8 million outside TEA
$900,000 at TEA* zone
million outside TEA
Gifted InvestmentYesYesYesYes
Borrowed Investment (Loan)Yes (certain rules apply)Yes (certain rules apply)Yes (certain rules apply)Yes (certain rules apply)
Investment LocationAnyAnyTEA (Targeted Employment Areas) or outside TEATEA (Targeted Employment Areas) or outside TEA
Job Creation RequirementsNot required. However,
investor must
follow the Business Plan closely
Yes. Investor
must follow the Business Plan closely
10 direct or indirect jobs10 direct jobs (more difficult to make direct jobs
Investor’s RoleInvestor has the option to hire a manager.
Otherwise must be involved in day to day operations
Management/ Executive/ Key EmployeeNo active role requirementInvestor has the option to hire a manager.
Otherwise must be involved in day to day operations
Option to purchase an existing companyYesYesN/AYes, must add 10 full-time jobs
Investor’s Overseas Employment RequiredPrefer to have similar business as with E-2 entityYes, 1 year out of the last 3-yearsNoPrefer to have managerial experience (option to hire a manager)
Country (Passport Specific)Yes. Must be from a Treaty CountryAny (if foreign business is
in certain countries like Iran there are restrictions)
All countries qualifyAll countries qualify
Required to have company outside United StatesNoYesNoNo
Timeline**Usually 2-4 months4-6 months.
Expedited, 15 business
days is available
Avg. 2-Years
Nationality Specific
Avg. 2-Years
Nationality Specific
U.S. Green Card (LPR)May convert to EB-5
only if investment grows.
May also qualify under EB-1C (consult U.S. lawyer)
Managers & Directors
may qualify for LPR
after 1-yr of entry under EB-1C (consult U.S. lawyer)
Yes, upon entryYes, upon entry
Fast TrackYes, if change status in US;
No if filing from abroad
Yes (optional) for USCIS approval,
followed by regular Consular processing (if abroad);
if changing status inside US,
expedited (15-days) is an option
1st Visa Issuance2-years (most nationals)Depends on the type of L-1
(consult U.S. lawyer)
Starts with 2-years conditional LPRStarts with 2-years conditional LPR
Maximum LengthRenewable as long as the business is running.
Children over 21 do not qualify for renewal
5- 7 years (consult U.S. lawyer).
Children over 21 do not qualify for renewal
Permanent, upon approved I-829Permanent, upon approved I-829
Who is considered Investor’s Family (Derivative)Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21
Can Your Derivative work?YesYesYesYes
Can Your Derivative Attend School/University?YesYesYesYes
Employment for investorImmediately upon entryImmediately upon entryImmediately upon entryImmediately upon entry
*TEA: Targeted Employment Area refers to “rural area” or an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate; TEA zones are determined by USCIS, beginning Nov/22/2019

**Average processing time from the receipt dates. Subject to change without further notification.

NOTE:  Content of this website is subject to change, and should not, under any circumstances, be construed as legal advice; information on this website is meant to provide a very general outlook in the scope of work.  If considering any type of U.S. Visa, please consult a U.S. Immigration Attorney prior to making any arrangements.

The “Pros” of L-1 Visa

  1. It allows for certain managers and owners with L-1 Visa to apply for U.S. Green Card soon after entry (1-2 years after entry);
  2. Although full-time work is required, the individual does not need to spend all their time in the U.S. and will have flexibility to work in both the U.S. and the foreign branch;
  3. L-1 Visa works very well for Executives, Owners, and High Level Managers of existing companies abroad, and allows for eventual Green Card for the principal L-1 Visa holder, his / her spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21;
  4. A larger company can readily obtain L-1 Visas for their employees to freely travel, once the first L-1 Visa is established;
  5. No minimum investment amount is required, the Business Plan has to make sense, and the investment amount is very much dependent on the type of business;
  6. If the L-1 Visa is structured properly, it can potentially provide visas and possibly Green Cards for multiple executive and managerial people, their spouses, as well as their unmarried children under the age of 21;
  7. No country restrictions (except for business owners with their main branches in Iran or North Korea);

The “Cons” of L-1 Visa

  1. The individual must have an already established and running business for at least a couple of years;
  2. Foreign businesses must be audited, have all tax returns (if applicable) or tax audits done properly, and must be able to demonstrate legitimate employees on payroll;
  3. The individual CANNOT abandon the business in the foreign country; your foreign company is meant to run simultaneously with the “Sister” or its subsidiary company in the US, so the individual must have the resources to run both businesses simultaneously;
  4. In general, the Company in USA must have very similar ownership structure as with the foreign company; sometimes challenging with UAE business structures;

In order to obtain an L-1 Visa, the owner of the foreign company needs to be on-board with the expansion into the US, and must be willing to submit the required forms, pay the required fees, and submit supporting documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

L-1 is a two-step process where USCIS must first approve your L-1 Petition.  Upon approval of the petition with USCIS, the individual traveling to the United States will be able to submit the required application to their respective U.S. Embassy or Consulate for Visa issuance.

At Lawmaks, we have handled multiple challenging L-1 cases, and we will be able to advise if your existing company abroad may be a good candidate for the L-1 Visa category.