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L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge

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L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge

L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge - USCIS

The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one. The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee.

 

General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee

To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must

• Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and

• Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

Also to qualify, the named employee must

• Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and

• Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Specialized knowledge means special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. (See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(D).) Such knowledge is 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-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004

The L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004 applies to all petitions filed on or after June 6, 2005, and is directed particularly to those filed on behalf of L-1B employees who will be stationed primarily at the worksite of an unaffiliated employer. In order for the employee to qualify for L-1B classification in this situation, the petitioning employer must show that

• The employee will not be principally controlled or supervised by the unaffiliated employer; and

• The work being provided by the employee is not considered to be labor for hire for the unaffiliated employer.

See INA 214(c)(2)(F) and Chapter 32.3(c) of the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual.

 

New Offices

For foreign employers who are seeking to send an employee with specialized knowledge to the United States in order to be employed in a qualifying new office, it must also be shown that

• Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured; and

• The employer has the financial ability to remunerate the employee and begin doing business in the United States.

See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(3)(vi) for details.

 

Period of Stay

Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1B employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of five years.

 

Blanket Petitions

Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition. In order to establish eligibility for blanket L certification, the employer

• And each of the qualifying organizations must be engaged in commercial trade or services

• Must have an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more

• Must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates

• Must meet one of the following criteria

o Along with the other qualifying organizations, have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period; or

o Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or

o Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

In order to qualify under the blanket petitioning process, the employee having specialized knowledge must also be a professional. See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(E).

See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(4) and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(5) for more details.

The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1B classification. It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS. In most cases, once the blanket petition has been approved, the employer need only complete Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and send it abroad to the employee along with a copy of the blanket petition Approval Notice and other required evidence, so that he or she may present it to a consular officer.

 

PIMS Processing Update

If there’s a chance a beneficiary of a petition needs to obtain a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate after the petitioner requests a change of status, extension of status, or amendment to the original petition it is advisable that the petitioner submit 2 copies of the updated petition with the original signatures on all forms to USCIS. When submitting the 2 copies of the updated petition it is encouraged to identify one of them with a brightly colored cover sheet with the notation “Please send this copy to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) upon approval”. Once approved, USCIS will then forward the marked copy of the updated petition to KCC for scanning and entry into the PIMS database where the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will be able to access the updated petition.

 

Applying for a Visa

Temporary Worker applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a Temporary Work (H, L, O, P, or Q) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Applicants for temporary work visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. Visa applications are now subject to a greater degree of review than in the past so it is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel departure date.

As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. To make an appointment for interview you will need to provide the receipt number that is printed on the approved Form I-129 petition. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on DOS website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. Learn how to schedule an appointment for an interview, pay the application processing fee, review embassy specific instructions, and much more by visiting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply.

During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.

 

Required Documentation

Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below.

• Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit DOS DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.

• A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date of at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.

• One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.

• Visa applicants included in L blanket petitions must provide Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition.

 

What are the Required Visa Fees?

• Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee: For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.

• Visa issuance fee: Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.

• Other Fees for Certain L Visa Applicants: Visa applicants included in L blanket petitions must also pay a fraud prevention and detection fee and may need to pay the Border Security Act Fee. Select Fees for more information under Other Fees.

 

Family of L-1 Workers

The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. If these family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply collectively, with fee, on Form I-539. Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.

 

Filing Multiple L-1 Intracompany Transferee Petitions Related to the Same Project

USCIS recognizes that businesses may need to temporarily move multiple employees to the United States for particular projects which require the employees’ specialized knowledge. In order to do this, employers may petition for their employees to obtain an L-1 nonimmigrant classification by filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. While each L-1 petition must be considered on its own merits, USCIS will consider multiple applications grouped into “bundles” of L-1 petitions in order to streamline and improve the adjudication process.

In order for USCIS to consider the bundle, all included L-1B petitions must be related to employees:

On the same project

Who will work at the same location and

Who have the same specialized knowledge duties

USCIS will also consider petitions for L-1A managers included with the bundle, if they will be managing the L-1B beneficiaries who will be working on the project. In addition, USCIS will consider Forms I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, filed for a beneficiary’s qualifying dependents included in the bundle.

 

Filing Tips for Bundling L-1 Petitions

Complete a separate Form I-129 for each employee.

Include petitions in the bundle:

From the same petitioner

On behalf of beneficiaries employed at the same foreign entity who will be seeking initial L-1 status or an extension of L-1 status, and who will be working on the same project at the same location performing the same specialized knowledge duties

Filed under the same service (either all premium processing or non-premium processing);

Of L-1A managers if they will be managing the L-1B beneficiaries who will be working on the project.

Package each petition separately with its own fees and supporting evidence.

Indicate the multiple related filings by, for example, including a cover sheet with information the petitioner believes may be useful to assist USCIS in processing the related filings as a bundle.

If using a cover sheet, write, “L-1 Bundle” in large, bold print at the top of the cover sheet. Petitioners should list their name and the project’s name and location, and number each cover sheet included in the bundle (e.g., 1 of 10 petitions, 2 of 10 petitions, etc.).

If USCIS is unable to determine whether a petition contained in the bundle is related to the petitioner, project, specialized knowledge duties, or location, USCIS will process the petition as if it were received individually.

 

Additional Tips

Petitioners can submit more than one bundle of L-1 petitions if there is more than one specialized knowledge occupation related to a project. If petitioners are filing more than one bundle of petitions for beneficiaries who will be performing different specialized knowledge duties for the same project, they should number each bundle (e.g., 1 of 3 bundles, 2 of 3 bundles, etc.) for ease of processing.

Petitioners are reminded that all required evidence (as well as Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, if applicable, and Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service) must be included with each petition within the bundle. While petitions may be submitted as a bundle, each petition must be individually supported by the required evidence.

 

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