The L1A visa classification is reserved for intracompany transferees who are seeking to enter the U.S. as an executive or manager. There are two basic components to an L1A petition: (1) a qualifying corporate relationship, and (2) a beneficiary with qualifying employment. The corporate relationship requires an overseas company that is connected to a U.S. company through affiliation or another ownership interest.
This is only the first of several complex requirements. The second aspect of this visa is the requirement that the beneficiary work as an executive or manager overseas for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States, and that he or she will be coming to the U.S. to work in the same capacity. As you may have guessed, these words have very specific meanings in immigration law. As a result, this part of the case must be very specific.
Executive Capacity means an assignment in an organization in which the employee primarily:
1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
2. Establishes goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
4. Receives only general supervision from higher-level executives, board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.
Since the L1A does include individuals who are “managers,” this title has a separate definition.
Managerial capacity has been defined to mean an assignment with an organization in which the employee personally:
1. Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
2. Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
3. If another employee or other employees are directly supervised, has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) or, if no other employee is directly supervised, function at a senior level respect to the function managed; and
4. Exercises discretion over day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in the managerial capacity merely by the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professionals.
An L1A beneficiary will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years (unless he or she is entering the U.S. to establish a new office). Requests for L1A extensions may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years until the beneficiary has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
After reaching the seven-year limit, applicants must reside outside of the United States for at least one year before they may reapply. It is also possible to apply to “recapture” time by appealing any of the days you might have been outside this U.S. This applies to overseas business, travel, or vacation. To do so, you will need evidence of your absence such as boarding passes, I-94 forms, or flight confirmation emails.
Alternatively, it may be easier to apply for a change of status. The L1A is a very complicated visa. We have had many different types of clients qualify for this visa, but once again it takes careful planning to get an approval in this category.