L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
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.
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
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
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
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.
For foreign employers who are seeking to send an employee to the United
States as an executive or manager in order to establish a new office, it must
also be shown that
Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured
The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous
year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position
within one year of the approval of the petition.
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-1A 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 seven years.
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.
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 employe 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
Must meet one of the following criteria
Along with the other qualifying organizations, have obtained at least 10 L-1
approvals during the previous 12-month period; or
Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least
$25 million; or
Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
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.