L-1 Intra-company Transfer Work Visas
Under U.S. immigration law, workers from international companies transferring to the U.S. fall into the L-1 visa category and are known as “intracompany transferees.” They may work in the U.S. on a temporary basis to perform services in one of two capacities:
* In a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or
The L-1B category defines someone with specialized knowledge as a person who has special knowledge of a company’s products, processes or procedures. The government has listed certain criteria that can be used to confirm that an applicant possesses specialized knowledge. They include:
1. The proprietary nature of the knowledge. Though it is not strictly required that the L-1B applicant have knowledge of the company’s systems, procedures, or techniques that is proprietary, the possession of proprietary knowledge can in itself meet the specialized knowledge requirement. Propriety knowledge may meet the application requirement if it “would be difficult to impart to another without significant economic inconvenience.”
2. The selective nature of personnel with proprietary knowledge. Knowledge of company systems and products should be limited to select individuals. If everyone is specialized, then no one is. The term “more than ordinary” is invoked when determining who has specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge does not require an “extraordinary” level of skills, merely more than that of the ordinary employee in the company or the field.
3. Employer/employee relationship. The L-1 Visa is for a persons being transferred to work within a company structure and not for another company. An employee with specialized knowledge who is stationed primarily at a worksite of an employer other than the petitioning employer or its affiliate, subsidiary or parent shall not be eligible for classification as an L-1B. The essential element in determining the existence of an “employer-employee” relationship is the right of control, that is, the right of the employer to order and control the employee in the performance of his or her work. Possession of the authority to engage or the authority to discharge is considered very strong evidence of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. However, the source of the employee’s remuneration, whether paid by the U.S. or foreign affiliate of the petitioning company, is not a factor in establishing eligibility for L-1B status.
The L-1 visa category has a key advantage over other employment-based visa categories such as the H-1B and the H-2B because there is no numerical cap on the number of L-1 petitions which may be approved each year. As many applicants as are qualified may obtain L-1 status. Spouses and accompanying children of L-1 Visa holders are also allowed to come to the United States and may be issued L-2 Visas.