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companies and foreign-owned U.S. subsidiaries
transfer employees on intracompany transferee visas
Attorney and Civil Law Notary
and foreign companies with foreign subsidiaries and offices use L-1 (intracompany
transferee) visas to bring executives, managers, and foreign employees
with specialized knowledge to the U.S. temporarily.
The L-1 visa is used by U.S. companies and foreign-owned U.S. subsidiaries to address shortages of highly skilled employees and to achieve better control of foreign subsidiaries and U.S. offices by establishing an employee from the foreign subsidiary or office in the United States home office or foreign-owned subsidiary.
To qualify, the foreign employee must be coming to the U.S. in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity after having worked abroad for the U.S. company for one year within the preceding three years.
Individual petitions for the L-1 visa may be granted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a period of three years, with a possible two-year extension for all "L" visaholders, and an additional two years for executives and managers. When a foreign employee, who was originally admitted to the U.S. in a "specialized knowledge" capacity is promoted to a managerial or executive position, the person must have been in the latter position for at least six months to qualify for a seven-year stay. Dependent spouses and children are entitled to "L-2" visas if they are coming to join the principal "L" visaholder.
Define your terms
regulatory definitions of terms become critically important in petitioning
for the "L" visa on behalf of a foreign employee.
For example, "executive capacity" is defined a directing the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization, establishing goals and policies for the organization, exercising wide latitude in discretionary decision-making, and receiving only general supervision or direction from higher levels.
The term "managerial capacity" is defined as managing the organization, department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization, supervising and controlling the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or managing an essential function within the organization. The manager must have the capacity to hire and fire or to recommend such personnel actions if he has direct supervision. If he does not supervise employees directly, he must function at a senior level within the organization or with respect to the function he manages. He must also exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations in his area. A first-line supervisor might not be deemed to be acting in a managerial capacity if he does not have supervisory authority over other professional employees.
A foreign employee may also come to the U.S. on the basis that he possesses "specialized knowledge." This is defined as "special knowledge ... of the petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures."
Blanket 'L' visa petitions
petitions provide U.S. companies with the opportunity to bring additional
employees into the U.S. by applying directly with U.S. consular offices
abroad without the approval of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
of an individual petition. Blanket petitions must certify that the company
is engaged in commercial trade or services, has an office in the U.S. and
has been doing business for one year or more, has three or more domestic
and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates, and has obtained approval
of petitions for at least 10 "L" visa managers, executives, or specialized
knowledge professionals during the previous 12 months, or have U.S. affiliates
or subsidiaries with combined annual sales of at least $25 million, or
have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000.
The blanket petition is very helpful to our larger multinational clients who are well-known to the U.S. Consul-General in their home countries, and it minimizes processing for visa numbers above 10 L-1 visas.
The "L" visa sometimes leads to a "green card" (permanent resident status). And there is a presumption created by multinational executive status that can speed up the process of receiving approval for a first preference employment-based petition for a "green card."
Boyd F. Campbell is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He has practiced private international law and immigration and nationality law in Montgomery, Alabama, since 1988. He served as Chair of the Immigration Law Committee of the American Bar Association's (ABA) General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Section and as Co-Chair of the Immigration Law Committee of the ABA's Section of Labor and Employment Law. He was a member of the ABA's Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law from 1994 to 1998. He was also Vice-Chair of a task force that created a new International Law Section for the Alabama State Bar and served as Chair of that Section from 2000 to 2002. He was appointed by the Alabama Secretary of State as Alabama's first practicing civil law notary in 2001. For more information about Mr. Campbell, CLICK HERE.
Questions or comments
about this article may be directed to:
Immigration Law Center, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 11032
Montgomery, Alabama 36111-0032 U.S.A.
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