Pittsburgh L Visa Lawyer
L Visas: Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia
Foreign companies with branches or affiliated groups in the United States may be able to transfer needed employees to American facilities with the use of an L-1 visa.
L-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas, and are only for foreign nationals seeking temporary status. There are specific employment requirements for L-1 applicants. The transfer-seeking employee must have, within the three preceding years, been employed abroad continuously for one year. He or she will be employed and performing duties for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the same employer for whom he or she was employed abroad. The applicant must be filling an executive or managerial position in the United States, or be employing a specialized knowledge.
May Law Group, LLC, offers specific guidance and assistance for business branches in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. If you are interested in an L-1 visa, please call 412-291-4400 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
L-1A and L-1B Visas
L-1A and L-1B visas are awarded to applicants based on their qualifications and the type of work they are expected to perform while in the United States. L-1A visas are given to applicants who will be acting in an executive or managerial capacity. L-1B visas are reserved for applicants with “specialized knowledge,” defined as knowledge “beyond the ordinary and not commonplace within the industry or the petitioning organization. In other words, the employee must be more than simply skilled or familiar with the employer’s interests.”
L-1A executives and managers can stay in the United States for as long as seven years. Employees working under an L-1B may stay for up to five years.
Employer Qualifications and Application Process
According to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), an eligible L-1 employer will have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. This may be a parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate. The employer must also currently be, or plan to be, doing business as an employer in the United States and at least one other country directly or through one of these qualifying organizations for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States.
Prospective employers must first file a petition with the USCIS, which will decide whether the applicant meets regulatory requirements. Processing times can vary, though there is a Premium Processing option available for an additional fee of $1,225. If an applicant chooses the Premium Processing option, a decision or issuance of a Request for Additional Evidence will be handed down within fifteen days.
If the USCIS approves an L-1 visa petition, the USCIS will mail the approved petition to the consular post. In some cases, an L-1 visa applicant is already working in the U.S. under another nonimmigrant visa. If this is the case, the USCIS will change the status to an L-1 through an I-94 issuance. An approval document (I-797) will be sent in either case.
The One-Year Continuous Employment Requirement
An applicant seeking an L-1 visa must have, within the three preceding years, been employed abroad for one continuous year. The L-1 applicant must be transferring to a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the same employer for whom he or she worked abroad.
Time spent in the United States while working for such employer does not count towards this one-year requirement, though it does not disrupt the continuity of employment. Under certain circumstances a combination of part-time employment with affiliated companies may be used to qualify the applicant for L-1 status.
L-1 Visas Used to Establish a New Office
An employer wishing to establish a new office or branch in the United States may wish to send trusted and important employees to the US on an L-1 visa. There are different requirements for L-1A and L-1B visas. An international company seeking to establish a new office under L-1A must show that they have acquired a new office space, and that within a year of L visa approval the United States operation will support and require an executive or managerial position. To establish an office under L-1B the company must show that they have acquired a new office, and that they have the financial ability to compensate the specialized knowledge employee, and to begin doing business in the United States.
L-1 visa holders establishing a new office may only stay in the United States for one year, unless, at the end of that year, the employer can show it is genuinely doing business in the United States and meeting L-1 visa regulatory requirements.
Spouses and Children Under 21
Under an L-2 visa, spouses and children under 21 may accompany the principal L visa applicant to the United States. Children are allowed to study in the United States while in the country under this visa. L-2 spouses may also apply for employment authorization in the United States.
Contact an Immigration Attorney in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, or West Virginia
To speak to an L visa attorney about your immigration goals, including obtaining a work visa in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, or elsewhere in the United States, we welcome you to contact an L-1 visa attorney online, or by phone at 412-291-4400. May Law Group offers free consultations to foreign nationals seeking to obtain or sponsor work visas. We have represented clients from Korea, Europe, India, Pakistan, and most other parts of the world from our Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York offices.