Everything You Need to Know About L1 Visa

Everything You Need to Know About L1 Visa

L1 visa or intra-company transferee visa is a non-immigrant visa you may require if your employer wishes to transfer you to one of their parent/ subsidiary or affiliate branches in the US. Through an L1 visa, your employer allows you to work in their US office for up to 3 years in one go.  

All small, medium and large-scale multi-national organisations can transfer their eligible employees to the company’s US branches if they have the necessary qualifications and skills. 

Although an L1 visa is an application raised by your employer, the process of going through it as a “beneficiary” may be confusing if you are unaware of the process and requirements. Thus, to ensure you know the intricacies of the L1 visa, we have devised a blog on everything you need to know about the L1 visa application. 

What is an L1 Visa?

An L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category in the US that allows multi-national organisations to transfer their employees from a foreign branch to its branch in the US. If you go to the US on an L1 visa, your employer shall work with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to get one issued.

The L1 visa category allows companies to retain their talent within the organisation and helps them facilitate international business operations.

Additionally, this category helps the company's employees grow beyond the country's borders! 

What are the Types of L1 Visa?

There are two variants of L1 visas based on the types of employees for whom the visa is being issued.

    • L1A Visa- L1A visa is issued to individuals employed in a managerial or executive position.
    • L1B Visa- L1 B visa is issued to individuals with specialised knowledge not readily available in the US.

Let us understand the difference between these two types of visas through the table below:

Details L1A Visa L1B Visa
Definition L1A visa is an intra-company transferee visa for executives and managers. L1B visa is a visa category that allows the transfer of individuals who possess a special skillset that is not readily available in the US.
Validity The visa comes with an initial validity of 3 years An L1B visa holder can stay in the USA for up to five years.
Extension criteria L1A visa holder can extend their visa up to twice until they reach seven years of total stay. This visa can be extended once for up to 2 years after a stay of three years.
Eligibility The multinational company can apply for an L1A visa for the applicant being transferred to a managerial or executive position in the US. The company can apply for an L1B visa to transfer an employee with a special skillset to the US.

 What are the L1 Visa Eligibility Criteria?

Both the employee and the employer should meet certain requirements to be eligible to apply for an L1 for a visa. The eligibility criteria for the employee and the employer are as follows.

For Employee:

The employee is considered as the “Applicant” for the L1 visa. The eligibility criteria for them are as follows:

  • The applicant must be employed at a multi-national company whose one subsidiary/ affiliate/ or parent branch is in the US.
  • The employee must work in the organisation for at least a year before being transferred to the branch in the US.
  • For an L1A visa application, the employee must be a manager or executive and come to the US to work in that position.
  • For an L1B visa application, the employee must qualify as an expert in the organisation's product. For instance, the product trainer of the company can be transferred to the US branch if they are exceptional in their work and are required to train the workers in the US branch.

For Employer:

The employer is considered the “Sponsor” for the L1 visa application process. They should meet the following eligibility criteria to transfer their employees to the organisation’s US branch.

  • The company must file for the applicant’s employment in the US at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 
  • At the USCIS, the organisation must prove that the foreign branch of the organisation participates in the growth of the US branch of the organisation.

What are the Documents Required to Apply for L1 Visa?

While filing and verifying for the L1 Visa, you must have the list of documents mentioned below:

  • An active passport with a validity of at least six months after the visa expiry day
  • Passport-size photographs are required as per the US visa photograph requirements
  • Receipt of fulfilment of visa fee
  • DS-160 confirmation page and code 
  • Approved petitions at the USCIS for Individual or Blanket petitions.

           a. Individual Petition: An individual petition in the L1 visa is applied if the employer is applying to transfer only one employee. In this case, the applicant must have an original and photocopy of the accepted Form I-129 and Form I-797.   

            b. Blanket Petition: A blanket petition is a visa petition at the USCIS in which the employer applies to transfer multiple employees to the US under a single transfer application. To apply for an L1 visa under the blanket petition, the employee must attach two copies of Form I-129S and three copies of Form I-797 which they will get from their employer.

  • Confirmation of the transfer offer letter.
  • Proof of continuous employment in the sponsor organisation for at least one year in the past three years. 
  • Educational qualification.
  • Tax records
  • Proof of specialised education for L1B visa application.
  • Proof of Managerial or Executive position in the sponsor organisation for L1A visa.

Now that you have noted the required documents, let’s look at the L1 visa application process.

How to Apply for an L1 Visa?

L1 visa is an intra-company transferee visa. Thus, it is crucial to remember that the L1 visa application process will require the involvement of both the employee and the employer. Here is a step-by-step guide to the L1 visa application process from an employee’s perspective:

Step 1: First and foremost, you must get the offer letter from your employer that mentions your transfer from the current organisation to the organisation in the US. The transfer letter should also clearly mention the role at which you are being transferred, whether it is managerial, executive or requiring specialised knowledge. 

Step 2: Your employer must file a petition at the USCIS. Depending on the nature of the transfer, they shall apply for an individual or blanket petitions. Once the petition is approved, the employer shall share the Form I-797. The employer shall share the forms with the employee to proceed visa application at the US embassy.

Step 3:  After receiving the Form I-797, you (the applicant) should apply for the Form DS-160 in which you must fill all the necessary information asked in the form.

Step 4: After filing the form move forward to pay the visa fee and schedule the visa interview at the US consulate office.  

Step-5: On the interview date, reach the US consulate office with all the documents including your transfer offer. Dress well to make a positive impression on the embassy officer and remain professional throughout the interview.Note: Please note that you can apply for the L1 Visa by visiting your nearest US Embassy with the Form I-197 provided by your employer.What is the L1 Visa Cost?

  • You and your employer may have to pay multiple fee throughout the L1 visa application process. Here is the elaboration for the fee that you may be asked to pay:
  • For the first time L1 visa petitions, the USCIS shall ask you to pay a filing fee along with the Form I-129.
  • To investigate and prevent fraudulent L1 visa petitions, the USCIS asks the US employer to pay $500.
  • At the time of application, the visa application fee is charged which is $190. 

You or your employer may have to pay $1,400 in case you opt for a premium service to opt a quick visa processing.

Note: Please, check the latest L1 visa application fee from the official website of the USCIS.

What are the Benefits of L1 Visa?

After reading the process, are you wondering whether you should try to apply for an L1 visa? Well, L1 Visa application has unique benefits for both the employee and the employer.

  Let us take a look at the benefits of L1 visa

  1. Minimal Requirements

Unlike other US work visas,  the L1 visa application has very lessrequirements.In L1 visa, you have to qualify as an important personnel in an organisation’s internal system. If you have a proven managerial, executive or specialised designation in an organisation, you can be eligible for the the L1 visa application.

  2. L1 Visa to Green Card

L1 visa is a dual intent visa. That is, you do not have to promise your return upon the expiry of the L1 visa. You can simply apply for the Green card as soon as your L1 visa expiry date nears. If you qualify the country’s criteria for a green card, you may also get permanent residency in the country.   

 3. No Investments Required

Certain work visas for the US may require you to present the proof of investment. However, provided that the L1 visa is sponsored by your employer, you do not have to show any proof of investment.

4. Offers International Opportunities

The L1 visa offers the employees with an international market to prove their abilities. Additionally, working in a foreign country also helps the employees to gain first-hand experience of the international culture. 

Final Words

As a concluding line, we would say that transferring to the US on an L1 visa can be an enlightening chapter in your career! We hope you grab this opportunity while giving careful consideration to the cause. We hope this article helped you to understand the L1 visa application process in detail. Remember that the fee and other requirements of the L1 visa are subject to change as per the US Embassy. Although we update our articles with important informations on a real-time basis, we recommend you to cross check the crucial information before starting the application process. 

Disclaimer: Plan features, benefits, coverage, and claims underwriting are subject to policy terms and conditions. Kindly refer to the brochure, sales prospectus, and policy documents carefully.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long does it take to process an L1 Visa?

A standard L1 Visa application may take 2 to 4 months for processing. However, if you opt for the premium option, you may get the L1 visa process completed within 1 to 3 months.

Q. Can I bring my family with me on an L1 Visa?

Yes. You can further apply to bring your immediate family members to stay with you in the US.

Q. Can I switch employers while on an L1 Visa?

Yes. You can switch your employer on an L1 visa. However, the process may be lengthy and may involve your new employer to file a new transfer petition.


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