The USA L1 visa immigration service functions in a similar manner to an a UK work permit application for an Intra Company Transfer (ICT) in that it allows a US based company to transfer a specific worker from an overseas branch.
Like UK work permits, the US L1 visa application process is an employer led system with American companies petitioning for the recruitment of foreign nationals where necessary. Like all US business visa services, the L1 requires a guaranteed position of employment to be in place. Unlike the UK, where the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme or HSMP allows a candidate to migrate in order to seek work, US immigration requires in almost all cases, that a guaranteed job offer be in place.
The existing structure of USA immigration services can make immigrating to the USA a complex and time-consuming process. Where people wish to relocate to the US on a temporary basis there are more than 60 non-immigrant visas for America, which may be considered. If you intend to visit the USA for a short period, a B1 business visa or B2 travel visa may be appropriate. If however, your plans are longer term and you intend to work in the US, you may require an H1-B visa or H2-B visa.
Like a US H1B visa application for skilled immigration to the USA, applying for an American L1 visa is generally a much quicker process than making an application for lawful permanent residence in the USA, or as it is more commonly known, A USA Green Card application. As a result, USA visas of this class, along with H1-B visas, tend to be more popular with employers wishing to bring foreign nationals into the country to fill specific roles. As with H visas, L1 visas for the USA are not regarded as a route to permanent settled status in the USA in themselves. However, like an H1-B visa, which is not intrinsically a route to permanent residency but allows a candidate to initiate the process of applying for a US Green card whilst in the country, an L1 USA work visa may enable a candidate to work towards settling in the United States. In the USA, immigration through this route is specific to the sponsoring company, and candidates will not be permitted to work for any other company or organization unless a fresh L1 application is submitted.
An L1 visa can also be utilized where an employee of a foreign company is migrating to the United States in order to set up a new branch or subsidiary in America. In these circumstances, US visas with an initial duration of 1 year will be approved, after which time the enterprise must be seen to be functioning effectively in order for the grant to be extended.
American L1 visas for business immigration to the USA are initially granted for a period of three years. Beyond this, if the candidate is still required in this position, the grant of leave may be extended in increments of two years up to a maximum of seven years. However, once the maximum period for US L1 visas has expired, an applicant will not be able to re-enter the country on an L or H visa or until they have spent a minimum period of one year outside the country.
Candidates migrating to the US through US L1 visas may enter the country in one of two streams.
L1A visas are designed for those being brought to the United States to engage in a managerial or executive role. In America, immigration candidates in this stream must be entering a role with supervisory responsibility for professional staff and must be responsible for a key department, division or function of the US company. Applications in this stream will need to be accompanied by a detailed outline of the function and duties of the position. In the US, visas of this kind are granted for an initial period of three years with the opportunity for a US visa extension in two-year increments up to a maximum of seven years.
L1B visas are intended for those coming to live and work in the US who have specific knowledge and experience of a company’s products, services, systems or procedures. In this stream, leave is initially granted for a period of three years which may, if necessary be extended to five years.
In either stream, candidates must have been employed by the sponsoring company, in a branch outside the United States for a minimum of one of the three years directly preceding the application. Candidates must have been employed in either an executive or a managerial role or in a position requiring specialist knowledge.
Dependent Immigration and Spouse Immigration
Whilst an L visa for US immigration is not directly intended as a route to permanent settlement in the USA, the potential is in place for it to lead to a Green Card visa application. In addition, where candidates do not progress to permanent immigration to the USA, a fully extended non-immigrant visa of this kind will still entail living and working in the USA for a number of years. As a result, American visas of this class allow the spouse and dependents of candidates on an L visa application to enter the United States in order to join the main applicant in the country. In these circumstances, spouses and dependents will be issued L2 Visas. A spouse in possession of an L2 visa, (though not dependent children) may later apply for a general work authorization, enabling them to seek and undertake employment in the country. Though dependent children on an L2 United States visa are not permitted to work,
they may undertake a course of study in the USA.