The L-1 visa is a work visa that can be used to enter the US for work. This non-immigrant US visa is valid for up to three years and can generally be renewed. The L-1 visa is only for employees of international companies, which means companies that have offices in both the US and another country (at least one other country). The work visa can also be used by companies which have one or more offices abroad and intend to open a new office in the US to expand internationally.
The L-1 visa allows employees of an international country to travel to the US to work with the same company (in the company’s US offices). To be eligible for this type of US visa, the L-1 applicant must have worked with the international company for at least one year. Unless dual intent is present, the L-1 visa may eventually lead to a green card. As well, dependants of L-1 visa holders may travel to the US with their families.
There are in fact several types of L-1 work visa. The L-1A visa, valid for up to seven years, is intended for executives and managers, while the L-1B visa is available for employees and professionals with specialized knowledge. In addition, there are blanket L-1 visas, which allow larger companies to grant numbers of work visas to their employees with one application.
The first step to filing an L-1 visa is to work with a qualifying company for at least one year. Large companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions, IBM, Mahindra Satyam, and Wipro have many L-1 visas filed for employees. If you qualify for an L-1 work visa, you will need to file Form I-129 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form will require you to prove that the company qualifies for international status and meets all requirements. If approved, the USCIS will send a Notice of Action (Form I-797). Once this happens, you can apply for a visa with a US consulate or embassy in your home country. Applicants can also file Form I-129 while in the US legally, and can apply to have their status adjusted once their US visa application is approved. The L-1 visa applicant can also apply for L-2 visas for their spouse and children. The L-2 visa gives spouses the right to work in the US and gives the children the right to study in the US.