L1A Visa Guide for Managers and Executives

L1A Visa Guide for Managers and Executives

When a foreign company is looking to expand into United States, the L visa is a useful tool. 

The L1A visa allows a foreign company looking to expand its operations into United States to transfer an employee to start its operations.

What is required of managers or executives to qualify for an L1A visa? 

Overview of L-Visa Program Requirements - Manager 

  • A manager is defined as someone who manages people, or those who manage a “function” of an organization.   The person in a manager position must:
    • Manage the organization, or a department, 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;
    • Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend hiring and firing of employees.  If the position does not supervise others, the person must function at a senior level within the organization’s hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and,
    • Exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function.
    • A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a “managerial capacity” due to the supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are “professional.”

Overview of L-Visa Program Requirements - Executive 

  • An executive is defined as a person in a position in the company who:
    • Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function;
    • Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component or function;
    • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and,
    • Receives only general direction or supervision from higher level executives, the board of directors or stockholders.

Overview of other L-Visa Program Requirements

  • Must be doing business in at least 1 other country directly or through a qualifying organization. Not enough to have an office or presence in another country, must be able to show it provides goods or services, through the business, during the entire period of time the company wishes to hire the L-employee.
  • Both the foreign company and the US company must have a qualifying relationship (parent company, subsidiary, affiliate/sister company, branch office). You will have to show the relationship between the two companies.
  • Employees transferred on an L visa should be previously employed by the company for at least one year of the previous three-year period. 
  • Can be tricky for sole proprietors/ partnerships because it must show a separate employment entity from the employee being transferred. Heavier burden to establish separate business/ economic identity of the company.

Can the foreign business be closed after the US operations are established with L-Visa? 

  • The nature of the L visa is that it creates a bond between a foreign business and its United States counterpart. As such, the company must maintain its status as a functional company outside of the United States for L visa holders to maintain their status. If an entrepreneur plans to close their foreign business once their business is open in the United States, the L visa will not work.

What should an L-Visa Business Plan include? 

  • The application should include a business plan outlining the following:
    • The proposed nature of the office describing the scope of the entity, its organizational structure, and its financial goals;
    • The size of the United States investment and the foreign entity’s financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the United States; and
    • The organizational structure of the foreign entity.
    • Sufficient physical premises secured 
    • Proof that the intended US operation will, within 1 year of approval, support continued employment

L-Visa New Office Requirements: 

  • New Office Requirement: 
    • New office requirements are triggered when the petitioning company has been doing business in the US for less than 1 year. 
    • Sufficient physical presence (lease, virtual office and PO box typically not sufficient).
    • Beneficiary meets the 1 year continuous employment requirement.
    • Within 1 year the US will support a US managerial/ executive position. 
    • Approved for an initial period of 1 year, for extensions must present evidence that business is active and operating 

L-Visa Investment amount required:

  • No minimum investment amount. 
  • However, investment must be sufficient enough to cover overall costs and expenditures so that it can easily support executive and managerial positions within a year of its initiation. 
  • Must be able to show positive return on investment. 

L-Visa Initial work permit duration:

  • Initial employee(s) to set-up a new office can stay for 1 year.
  • Once office is set-up, employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of 3 years. 

L-Visa conditions of work permit extension:

  • Extension granted in increments of up to 2 years
  • Has a limit of 7 years for executives/ managers 

L-Visa conditions for permanent residence:

  • The L1A visa is a non-immigrant visa, however, it is possible to change one's status to an immigrant visa after working for the US company. 
  • One benefit of using this route to permanent residence is that PERM certification is not required. 

L-Visa Timelines

  • Regular processing can be from a couple of weeks to over 6 months. 
  • Expedited premium processing is available - 15 days (+$2500) 
  • Waiting for consular interview may add weeks or months to timeline. 

Costs (USD)

USCIS Fees L-Visa

  • $460 - I-129
    $500 -  First L-Visa subject to fraud prevention and detection fee
    $750 - ACWIA Training and Education Fee: for employers with a workforce of 25 or fewer.
    $190 - DS-160 application fee (for consular processing only)

Attorney Fees


Our L-Visa service package includes:

  • Guidance and strategies for overall L1A Visa application process 
  • Consultations with employer company and beneficiary employee
  • Availability throughout Visa Application process to answer all your questions
  • Identification of set-up costs that count as L1A investment 
  • Instructions on showing investments from lawful sources
  • Preparing visa application 
  • Updates throughout case 
  • Follow-up responses to US government, if they ask for additional documents or information 
  • Meeting to prepare for interview at US Consulate
  • List of examples of interview questions typically asked at interview 
  • Practice interview

Not included: 

  • Business Plan
  • Business formation 
  • Shareholder agreement 
  • Dependent applications 

Benefits of the L1A Visa program

  • Not limited to treaty countries 
  • No size restrictions though smaller businesses may have to submit more evidence
  • No minimum required education of employee
  • No minimum or prevailing wage like for H1B
  • No quotas
  • Employee’s salary can be paid by either the US company or the foreign company (the investment does not have to come from the applicant's personal savings)

How do I get started with my L-Visa Application? 

To get started, book a strategy sessionwith us

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