Over 100,000 L-1 visas are granted each year. Unlike certain other employment-based visas such as the H-1B, there is no numerical restriction on the total number of visas that can be granted. Not all L-1 visa petitions are accepted, however — the application package, including supporting documentation, must be assembled with care. The assistance of a skilled immigration lawyer could make the difference between an acceptance and a rejection.

NOTE: If you are a Canadian citizen, check the most recent information online. Canadians often enjoy simplified application procedures compared to other nationalities, although the rules change from time to time.

What You Must Prove

To know which documents to submit, you need to understand what you are trying to prove. For the L-1, you must prove:

  • Both the US company and the foreign company are viable, legally established entities (special rules apply to opening up a new office in the US).
  • There is a “qualifying relationship” (as defined by US immigration law) between the foreign company and the US company.
  • You have worked for the foreign company on a full-time, continuous basis for at least 12 months during the 36 consecutive months immediately prior to your L-1 filing date.
  • Your job duties during the aforementioned 12-month period fit the legal definition of a manager or executive (L-1A) or a “specialized knowledge” employee (L-1B).
  • You have been hired by the US company to work as a manager or executive (L-1A) or a “specialized knowledge” employee (L-1B).
Other Documents

Stage 1: Document Preparation

Following is a list of documents that you will probably need to submit. You may need to submit others as well, depending on the facts of your case.

Foreign Company Documents

  • Articles of incorporation, certificate of incorporation or other organizational document;
  • Share certificates;
  • Company tax returns;
  • Company financial statements;
  • Copy of office lease, especially if the company is opening a new office in the United States;
  • Business promotional and advertising materials;
  • Organizational chart;
  • Photographs of the company business premises (“virtual offices” are frowned upon);
  • A statement from an authorized company representative detailing the company’s ownership and authority structure.

US Company Documents

  • Articles of incorporation or its equivalent (articles of organization for an LLC, for example);
  • Share certificates;
  • Local business license;
  • Copy of corporate by-laws;
  • Detailed business plan;
  • Organizational chart;
  • Company financial statements;
  • Company advertising and promotional materials;
  • A statement from an authorized company representative detailing the company’s ownership and authority structure.

Documents to be Prepared by the L1 Employee Beneficiary

  • Personal resume;
  • Copy of passport including photo page;
  • An explanation of your job duties with foreign company, detailing how much time you spent performing each duty;
  • An explanation of your proposed job duties with the US company, detailing how much time you will spend performing each duty;
  • Evidence proving the length of time you were employed with the foreign company (bank statements, for example, if your pay was deposited directly into your bank account).
Form I-129

Filing the Initial Petition

The US employer must file the initial L-1 petition with the USCIS. This petition includes Form I-129 plus the L supplement along with the various supporting documents mentioned above, along with a filing fee of $460. The free must be paid by by check or by a money order drawn on a financial institution located in the US and payable in US dollars. The instrument must be made out to the “Department of Homeland Security.”

Once this package is mailed to the USCIS, you must wait for two notices (i) the Acceptance Notice, proving that the USCIS has filed your application; and (hopefully) (ii) the Approval Notice, notifying you that the USCIS has accepted your application. Once you are in L-1 status, however, be aware that if you leave the US, you will need an L visa issued by a US embassy or consulate to re-enter the US (except for certain limited excursions to Canada or Mexico).

If you are located abroad at the time your I-129 is accepted by the USCIS, you will still need to obtain an immigraiton visa to enter the US (see below).

Change of Status or Issuance of Visa Abroad

If you are not in the US, locate the US embassy or consulate nearest your home. You will need to file Form DS-160 with the embassy or consulate, along with supporting documents. The embassy or consulate will schedule an interview with you. If the interview is successful, an immigration visa will be stamped onto your passport and you will be permitted to enter the US in L1 status.

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