The L1 visa is a great immigration option for people looking to live and work in the USA. It allows foreign businesses to transfer certain employees to a US branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company or start a new branch.

What is the L-1 Visa?
New Office


1. Qualifying Relationship

The L1 visa is for foreign companies to transfer certain workers to a US company. In order to get an L1 visa, there must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company.


- One of the companies owns more than half of the other company

- One of the companies is a 50% partner of the other company, which is a joint venture. In this situation, the parent company must have equal control and veto power over the subsidiary company.

- One of the companies owns less than half of the other company but has control over the company.

Branch Office

- A branch office is the same company as that parent company, but is operating in a different location.

- To qualify for L1, the branch office must be registered as a foreign corporation operating in the US.


- Two companies that are both owned and controlled by the same parent company or person.

- Two companies that are owned and controlled by the same group of people. Each person must own and control roughly the same proportion of each company.

- Some multinational accounting firms.

Duration of the Qualifying Relationship

- There must be a qualifying relationship between the US company and a foreign company throughout the duration of the L1 beneficiary’s stay in the US.

- For existing US business L1: the qualifying relationship does not have to be between the US company and the same foreign employer that the beneficiary worked for. Any qualifying relationship with a foreign company should suffice.

- For new business L1: if the US business is considered a “new business” (discussed below), the foreign company that the US worker worked for must continue to operate and must maintain a qualifying relationship with the US company.

2.  Continuously Employed

- To qualify for an L1 visa, the foreign worker seeking transfer to the US must have been continuously employed by the foreign company, full-time, for at least 1 year within the last 3 years prior to filing the L1 petition.

- The employment must be continuous. 

- Periods spent in the United States in lawful status for a branch of the same employer or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary and brief trips to the United States for business or pleasure will not interrupt the one year of continuous employment abroad but those periods will not count towards the year of qualifying employment. [Code of Federal Regulations Section 214.2(l)]

- The entire year of qualifying employment should be satisfied by the time the L1 application is filed.

- The employment must be full-time (at least 35 hours a week). There is 1 exception to the full-time requirement in certain circumstances where the L1 beneficiary worked for multiple affiliated companies.

3. Managerial, Executive, or Specialized Knowledge

- To qualify for an L1 visa, you must have worked for the foreign company in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.

Managerial Capacity

- Manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;

- Supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manage an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;

- You have the authority to hire and fire or recommend those types of personnel actions for employees directly supervised. If no employees are directly supervised, you function at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed;

- And, you exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function that you have authority over. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity just by virtue of their supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.

Executive Capacity

- Direct the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;

- Establish the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

- Exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision-making;

- And, receive only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, he board of directors, or stockholders of the organization. subdivision, function, or component of the organization.

Specialized Knowledge

- Special knowledge here means distinct or uncommon in comparison to what is typically found in the particular industry.

- Advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures means "knowledge or expertise in the company’s 'specific' processes and procedures that is 'not commonly found in the relevant industry' and is 'greatly developed or further along in progress, complexity, and understanding than that generally found within the employer.'"


At going to press in March 2023, it's worth noting that USCIS is planning hikes to several petition and visa costs quite soon, but for now, these are the costs:

If you want to apply for the L1 Visa, you have to be prepared to pay the following fees:

- $460 for the petition
- $500 for fraud prevention and detection
- $190 for the visa

That means that the overall cost of the L1 Visa is at least $1150. Depending on where you live, sometimes you might be required to pay additional fees.

New Office

The L-1 “new office” visa allows businesses to begin operations in the U.S. with the assistance of key personnel from a company based outside the U.S. It requires a related entity abroad and proof that the foreign national employee to be transferred has worked in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity for at least one year within the three years prior to filing the petition.

The purpose of the “new office” L-1 visa is to allow key personnel to come to the U.S. for an initial period of one year, during which time the U.S. operations of the company are expected to grow and develop. 

Extensions are available in increments of up to two years for a total of seven years if in L-1A (managerial/executive) status or five years if in L-1B (specialized knowledge) status.

U.S. immigration regulations define a “new office” as an organization that has been doing business in the United States through a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary for less than one year. Since the new office must conduct business, the mere presence of an agent or office is not sufficient to satisfy the regulations, and it must be shown that the company is engaged in the regular, systematic and continuous provisions of goods and/or services.

To qualify for a “new office” L-1 visa, the petitioner must demonstrate:

- Sufficient physical premises for the office have been secured
- The beneficiary meets the one-year continuous employment requirements
- The intended U.S. operation, within one year of the approval of the petition, will reach a standard constituting “doing business” and will support an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position

One of the most important aspects of this visa is to develop a solid business plan so be prepared to talk to your accountants about this.




What is the L1 Visa?

The L1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows foreign companies to transfer a manager, executive, or person with specialized knowledge to a US company. The US company must be a branch office, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company. It's also possible to transfer an employee to start a new branch of your non-US business.

The employee that is transferred must work for the US company as a manager, executive, or person with specialized knowledge. 

- L1A - The employee will work as a Manager or an Executive
- L1B - The employee will work as a person with Specialized Knowledge

The L1 visa is not eligible for self-petition. The US company must file the petition on the employees behalf. Therefore, the US company is considered the petitioner, and the L1 visa recipient, is considered the beneficiary.


- Ability to Live and Work in the USA - With an L1 visa, you are authorized to live in the United States and to work for your L1 employer.

- Extended Period of Stay - The L1A visa for managers and executives is initially valid for a period of 3 years and can be extended for a total of 7 years. The L1B visa for people with specialized knowledge is initially valid for a period of 3 years and can be extended for a total of 5 years.

- Dual Intent Visa - Many non-immigrant visas, such as the B1/B2 visitor visa, require that you have non-immigrant intent. This means that you must intend to return to your home country and that you do not intend to immigrate to the United States. However, the L1 visa is a dual-intent visa, meaning that you may have the intent to temporarily remain in the United States while simultaneously having the intent to possibly immigrate to the United States and become a lawful permanent resident in the future.

- No Set Wage Requirements - The L1 visa does not require that the US company pay you a certain wage.
Some visa categories require that you get paid a wage commensurate with your position and job title. The L1 does not have this requirement. Your US employer will still have to comply with state and federal minimum wage laws.

- Immigration Benefits for Your Family - By getting approved for an L1 visa, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old are eligible to accompany you in the United States. Your spouse and unmarried children would obtain L2 status as your dependents. Your spouse can obtain employment authorization to work in the United States. Your children can attend US schools and get a US education.

- The L1 Visa is Eligible for Premium Processing - Premium processing is a service provided by USCIS where they expedite the processing of your L1 petition for an additional fee of $2,500. If you select premium processing, USCIS will issue a response to you L1 petition within 15 days.

- No Annual Limit to the Number of L1 Visas Issued - There is no annual limit to the number of L1 visas that can be issued. This is contrary to other visas, such as the H-1B visa, which has an annual quota.


Because each USCIS service center that processes petitions has a different workload, the processing time for your petition may vary widely. However, there is a general average of six months that many attorneys account for when considering the processing time.

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This process, as with most immigration processes, is not only long-winded and tricky to fully comprehend, but it's also riddled with hidden elements that are not publicised by the relevant authorities. Knowing the law is essential. Experience with handling cases month after month is invaluable. MUSA is an essential ally in tackling immigration processes in a meticulously planned and correct way. Don't risk your filing fees.

L Visa for Intracompany Transfers