L-1 classifications are conferred upon persons who have been employed by a foreign company in a managerial or executive position, or one involving specialized knowledge. To qualify, a person must have worked for the entity abroad for 1 of the last 3 years in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity, and will be transferred to a subsidiary, affiliate or branch office in the United States. Once approved, the beneficiary is authorized to work only for the company in the United States. The employee should file an annual income tax return in the United States, and the salary and position should be the same as the one indicated on the L-1 application. If at any time the employee stops working for the company in the United States and/or begins working for another company, the L-1 visa classification will no longer be valid.
The maximum time an L-1 visa will be granted is 7 years for executives and managers, and 5 years for those with specialized knowledge. If the U.S. company is a newly established corporation, the initial period will be for one (1) year. If the U.S. company has more than one year of operations with sufficient income and employees, the initial period of L-1 status can be up to 3 years. The more activity the US company has, the higher the possibility that an extension of the L-1 will be granted. An extension may be granted if both the U.S. company and the company abroad have a sufficient level of income, activity and employees. Extensions are granted for 2 years at a time, up to the 7 or 5 year limit. During the validity L-1 visa classification, it is absolutely necessary that both companies continue to actively operate.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of the L-1 Beneficiary may obtain L-2 classification, which permits them to live and study in the United States, and allows the spouse to obtain employment authorization and a social security number. The L-2 classification does not permit children to work, unless they obtain their own working visa, if eligible.
For Multinational Executives or Managers, once the U.S. company is strong enough, an application for permanent residence can be pursued.