L-1A Intracompany Transferee Nonimmigrant Visa Classification
If you are a manager or executive who has worked abroad for a qualifying organization (including a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch of your foreign employer) for at least one year within the three years preceding your petition, then you may be eligible for an L-1A visa for intracompany transferees.
To qualify for an L-1A, the entity must seek to transfer you to the U.S. to work as a manager or executive. Your foreign employer may transfer you to a U.S. organization that is already operational, or you may be transferred to start a new office.
According to USCIS, a new office means an organization that has been conducting business in the U.S. through a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch for less than one year. Since the term organization in the definition of a new office is not separately defined, it could mean either a foreign or U.S. corporation or other legal entity.
The requisite requirement of “less than one-year” limitation applies to new offices that meet any of the four individual entity types:
A branch is defined as an operating division or office of the same entity housed in a different location, illustrating that the entity is not limited to only one location in the U.S.
Among the critical factors to be considered are the intended personnel structure, amount of investment, physical premises, service or product to be offered, and viability of the foreign business operation.
Requirement 1: The U.S. Entity Must Have A Qualifying Relationship with Your Foreign Employer
The U.S. company must have a corporate relationship with the foreign company where you have been working as a manager or executive. This typically means that the U.S. entity must be either a parent, subsidy, affiliate, or branch of the foreign entity and that both the foreign and U.S. entities must continue to share common ownership and control.
However, you may still qualify if the foreign entity where you worked for at least one year as a manager or executive is no longer in operation, provided that there continues to exist at least one other qualifying foreign organization remaining in operation during your entire period of stay in the U.S. as an L-1A nonimmigrant manager or executive.
How To Demonstrate that the New Office in the U.S has A Qualifying Relationship with Your Foreign Employer
Some of the evidence that you can adduce to demonstrate that the new U.S. office has a qualifying relationship with your foreign employer includes, but is not limited to:
- Bylaws or similar operating documents showing common ownership of the foreign and U.S. entities;
- Articles of incorporation or similar documents showing common ownership of the foreign and U.S. entities;
- Wire transfer documents or bank statements showing capital contribution in exchange for ownership;
- Organizational charts demonstrating the qualifying relationship between the foreign and U.S. entities;
- Annual reports describing the corporate structure;
- Business registration records, ownership certificates, meeting minutes, or ownership ledgers showing common ownership and control of the foreign and U.S. entities;
- Corporate filing abroad or in the U.S. describing the corporate relationship; or
- Any other evidence showing ownership and control over the foreign and U.S. entities (that is, voting rights agreements, stock purchase agreements, term sheets, or capitalization tables).
- Where the U.S. entity is an affiliate, you must provide a detailed list of owners of the U.S. and foreign companies, including the percentage of ownership, along with supporting documents. According to USCIS, an affiliate is one of two subsidiaries owned and controlled by the same individual or parent, or the same group of individuals, each owning and controlling the same proportion or share of each entity.
- Where the U.S. entity is a subsidiary or parent, you must provide a detailed list of owners, including the percentage of ownership and supporting documents. A subsidiary is an entity of which the parent:
- Directly or indirectly owns half the entity and thus controls the entity;
- Directly or indirectly own more than half the entity and controls the entity;
- Directly or indirectly own 50% of a 50-50 joint venture and thus has equal control and veto power over the entity; or
- Directly or indirectly owns less than half of the entity but controls the entity.
3. A branch is an operating division or office of an organization housed in a different location. Some of the probative evidence that you can submit to show that the U.S. employer is a branch office may include, but is not limited to:
- Copies of the U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation (i.e., IRS Form 1120-F)
- A territorial or state business license illustrating that the foreign entity is authorized to engage in business activities in the U.S.;
- Copies of the Wage and Tax Statements (i.e., IRS Form W-2) listing the branch office as the employer;
- Copies of Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return (IRS Form 941) listing the branch office as the employer; or
- Copies of a lease of office space in the U.S.
If the petitioner intends to transfer the beneficiary from a foreign branch office, the petition must include comparable evidence establishing that the foreign employer is a branch office of a qualifying organization
How To Demonstrate That You Have Worked the Required Duration Abroad
Some of the evidence you can adduce to demonstrate your foreign employment for at least one of the last three years before your petition includes, but is not limited to:
- Payroll records;
- Pay stubs; or
- Tax returns showing employment.
How To Show That Your Foreign Employer Was In A Qualifying Capacity
Some of the evidence that you can adduce to show that your foreign employment was in an executive or managerial capacity include, but is not limited to:
- Performance appraisal or reviews;
- Organizational charts demonstrating your position and any employees that support your position; or
- Job description for your position and other positions that report above and/or below you, where applicable.
Requirement 2: Sufficient Space Must Be Secured For A New Office
Although the amount of physical space will vary based on the nature of the business, an appropriate physical space to conduct business must be secured through purchase, lease, or other means.
How To Prove That The New U.S. Office Has Sufficient Space
When filling to open a new office in the U.S., some of the evidence you can adduce to show that you have secured sufficient physical space to conduct business includes, but is not limited to:
- Mortgages or other proof of real estate purchase;
- Signed lease agreement; or
- Marketing material, business plan, or other descriptions of the business connecting the business activity with the acquired space.
- When filing for a new office, you must provide a copy of a business plan or executive summary showing the size of the U.S. investment and your ability to start conducting business in the United States.
- In addition to proof that you have secured a physical premise, you must explain how the location is sufficient for the intended business.
Requirement 3: To Extend Your Stay, The New Office Must Be Active and Operational Within One Year After Your Admission to the U.S. As An L-1A
An L-1A visa for a “New Office” is intended to facilitate a ramp-up period for a new U.S. office of a foreign entity. Normally, this period is limited to one year but is subject to an extension if the new office meets the requirement of being active and operational for at least one year.
What makes a new office active and operation often differs depending on the nature of the business. However, it will involve factors such as, but not limited to:
- Fulfillment of contract orders;
- Hiring additional employees;
- Holding inventory where applicable; and/or
- Having a revenue stream.
Requirement 4: After One Year, The New Office Must Support An Executive or Managerial Position if You Are Requesting An Extension of Stay in the L-1A Classification
During the initial one-year ramp-up, an executive or manager may be required, as a practical matter, to engage in most “hands-on” duties that go beyond inherently executive or managerial tasks.
However, after the first year, you will be required to focus on executive or managerial duties and demonstrate that the business supports an executive or executive position to obtain an extension of the L-1A.
How To Demonstrate that the New Office is Fully Functional and That It Will Support Your Role As An Executive or Manager After One Year
Some of the evidence you can adduce to show that the new U.S. office is fully functional includes, but is not limited to:
- Organizational charts showing your position and current employees supporting your position;
- Contracts, purchase orders, or other evidence of commercial activity;
- Bank statements;
- Quarterly wage reports demonstrating current employees and staff hired;
- Position descriptions providing the duties and responsibilities of all current employees, or other evidence demonstrating how your executive or managerial position is relieved of primarily performing non-qualifying duties; or
- Financial reporting documents showing monthly income.
Please read the USCIS Policy Manual and L-1A Intracompany Transferee for more information about L-1A intracompany transferees and the distinctions between requirements for new and established offices.