To obtain an L-1 visa, you must:
- Be serving or have recently served as a manager, executive, or specialized employee in a multinational company;
- Have worked for the multinational in one of the above-mentioned positions for at least one year (12 continuous months) out of the most recent three years (36 months) prior to transferring to the United States; and
- Intend to perform a similar role with the same employer or an affiliated entity after transferring to the U.S.
Your US employer must file Form I-129 on your behalf–you cannot file it on your own. An immigration lawyer can help gather the necessary information and prepare your petition in the most effective manner.
Unlike certain other employment-based visas such as the H-1B, there are no formal educational requirements for foreign workers to obtain L-1 visas. Of course, there may be some practical requirements — your employer is likely to require a certain level of educational attainment before hiring you as an executive, for example. Additionally, the higher your educational attainment, the more persuasive your L1 visa petition is likely to be.
It is possible to qualify for L-1 status as the sole owner or majority shareholder in your company. To do this, you will have to be hired as an employee of the company (CEO, for example), and your transfer will have to be authorized by your company’s board of directors. This can get tricky, especially in terms of the documentation you will have to provide. You may need the assistance of a law firm that is intimately familiar with L1 immigration law.