What is a L-1 Visa?

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  • Written By: Victoria Blackburn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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An L-1 visa is a government document supplied by the United States government that allows the visa holder to work in the United States. The visa allows both the holder and his or her spouse to work in the United States, and for any children of the visa holder to attend public school. Although a visa does not affect citizenship, it can act as a stepping stone to a Green Card and may lead to pursing American citizenship.

An L-1 visa is granted to employees of any company that is opening new locations in the United States, and requires transfer of workers to the US office. There are two types of visas, the L-1A and the L-1B. The L-1A visa is designed for managers and is valid for up to seven years. The L-1B visa is designed for other workers and is valid for up to five years. Following termination of the L-1 visa, the employee must then leave the United States for over one year before being able to apply to get another visa.


Applications for an L-1 visa may occur through one of two ways. Regular L-1 visas require an individual application, which is evaluated by the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) department to determine whether the applicant can work in the United States. Alternatively, the company seeking to move to the United States may be able to apply for a Blanket L-1 visa. In these cases, USCIS will pre-approve the company to move employees into the United States, and each employee needs only to submit documents to the US embassy or consulate to be approved to enter the US.

The application process for an L-1 visa involves submission of a form to USCIS, along with documentation to prove that the foreign and American companies meet the legal requirements for discharge of visas. The application may be denied if USCIS finds that the parent company does not intend to continue operations in the United States following visa issuance, or if the applicant is ineligible to hold a visa. Applicants can request reconsideration following a denial by contacting USCIS.

Successful applicants issued visas are able to bring their family to live in the United States. The spouse of a visa holder is also granted an L-1 visa, as long as a marriage certificate is provided. Upon receipt of the visa, the spouse is able to apply for a social security number and can then work for American employers. Children under 21 can apply for L-2 visas, so they are allowed to attend public school. For more information on applying for L-1 visas and the documents required, contact the United States Citizen and Immigration Services.


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