The L-1A visa is available to foreign nationals who have worked outside of the United States as a “manager” or “executive” for at least one year out of the past three years and who are coming to the United States to perform managerial or executive services for an affiliate of a United States company. The L-1B visa is available to foreign nationals who have worked outside of the United States in a position that requires "specialized knowledge" for at least one year out of the past three years and who are coming to the United States to work in a position for an affiliated United States employer that requires "specialized knowledge."
“Manager” means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
“Executive” means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
"Specialized knowledge" means special knowledge of the company products and their application in international markets or an advanced level of knowledge of the processes and procedures and of the company.
The L-1A visa may be granted to managers and executives for an initial period of three years. Managers and executives may extend their visas for an additional three years. Specialized knowledge employees (L-1B) may extend their visas for an additional two years. The total period of stay allowed for an executive or manager is seven years. The total period of stay allowed for a specialized knowledge employee is five years. However, if the L-1 visa holder is only in the United States infrequently, the L-1 visa may be extended indefinitely. If the maximum permitted period of stay is used, reentry to the United States is only permitted after residing abroad for a one-year period.
The L-1 employee may also come to the United States to open a new affiliated entity. In this case, the L-1 visa is granted for a one-year period. The L-1 visa may be extended at the end of the one-year period if the new United States affiliate can be shown to be viable.
Large international organizations can obtain a "blanket" approval for L-1 visas to facilitate movement of key personnel within the organization. If the organization obtains "blanket" approval, only the employee must show his or her qualifications to obtain the L-1 visa.
In order to qualify for blanket approval, the international organization must:
Have at least one of the following:
Spouses and minor unmarried children of the L-1 visa beneficiary may apply for an L-2 visa that allows them to accompany the L-1 visa beneficiary to the United States. L-2 visas should be issued for the same time period as the L-1 visa. An L-2 visa holder may apply for employment authorization to work in the United States and may study in the United States.
Generally, the beneficiary of an L-1A visa will qualify to adjust status in the United States to permanent residence (obtain a "green card") if the United States employer gives them an offer for full-time, permanent employment.