Employers: What to Know About L-1A Visas

One of the best options for international companies looking to transfer employees to U.S. offices is the L-1 visa. L-1 visas are nonimmigrant, meaning they do not provide a direct path to citizenship for visa holders. 

There are two tiers of L-1 visas: L-1A and L-1B. L-1B visas are used by employees who have some kind of specialized training or knowledge but are not managers or executives. This blog will focus on L-1A visas, which are used by international employers to transfer managers and executives to and from the U.S. L-1A visas are also used, by employers, to send key managers and executives to start a U.S. location. 

Prerequisites for Intracompany Transferee Manager

Managers eligible for L-1A visas must have the responsibility of managing either the company itself or a department, subdivision, or function. Additionally, managers typically must have some control over the work of other professional employees, although this is not always required. Some employees who do not supervise other workser but operate at a high enough level within the company may still possess what’s called managerial capacity

Things that could strengthen the application for intracompany transferees include showing that the manager can hire, fire, and promote within the company. Having discretion over the day-to-day operations of the company or department is also good for the application. Additionally, managers must have worked for the company at least 12 continuous months within the three years preceding his or her admission to the U.S.

How to Apply For L-1A Visas

L-1 visas are not self-petitioning. In other words, the employer—not the employee, manager, or executive—must submit the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. The immigration form used for L-1 visas is Form I-129. The employer must show a qualifying relationship with the U.S. office. If the U.S. office is not a branch of the same company, it may be an affiliate, subsidiary, or parent company. 

Length of Stay For L-1A Visa Holders

The maximum length of stay for a manager L-1A visa holder is seven years. Initially, L-1A managers will be able to stay for three years if the U.S. office has been operational for longer than one year. However, if the U.S. office is not fully established (or even started), the visa holder will only be able to stay for one year. Extensions are granted in two-year increments. 


While the requirements and process for obtaining an L-1A visa might seem straightforward, the USCIS forms require impeccable documentation and details. A skilled immigration attorney will be able to ensure your application checks all the boxes that U.S. officials are looking for; one error could doom the application or significantly delay the process. RelisLaw would be happy to speak with you about your legal needs; contact us today to set up a complimentary initial consultation. 

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