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NAFTA Treaty Immigration: The L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transfers to the United States

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in U.S. Immigration and Intra-Company Job Transfers - L-1 Visa

NAFTA Treaty Immigration: The L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transfers to the United States

Global companies often need to relocate key managers and skilled foreign workers to their operations in the United States if a local worker is not available to fill the job. Employers can bring foreign talent to work in the United States as employment-based, nonimmigrant workers under the L-1 visa for intracompany transfers program. L-1 visas for intracompany transfers are available under both NAFTA and non-NAFTA provisions. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA/USMCA) has benefits for U.S. and Canadian citizens who want to cross borders for business, including intracompany transfers.

What Is An L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transfers?

To qualify for an L-1 visa, the employee must have worked for a qualifying company a minimum 1 year out of the previous 3 years

  • in a position that is executive or managerial
    OR
  • has specialized knowledge

The L-1A Visa
The L-1A non-immigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States; it is also a classification that would allow a foreign company without a U.S. office to send one of their executives to the U.S. to open such an office.

An L-1A intra-company visa is for managers or executives who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a USCIS L-1A intra-company transfer to the U.S. include:

  • There must be a relationship between the employer and the foreign company
  • The employer must be or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and one other country, though they are not required to be engaged in international trade
  • The employee must have been working for the company for one year within the previous three years
  • The employee must be entering the U.S. to provide managerial or executive level work for the company

The L-1B Visa
The L-1B visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge skills relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. And just as the L-1A allows the employee to enter the U.S. to help in the establishment of an office, so too, does the L-1B provide entry for the specialist to help in the same way.

A USCIS L-1B intra-company visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a USCIS L-1B include:

  • There must be a relationship between the employer and the foreign company
  • The employer must be or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and one other country, though they are not required to be engaged in international trade
  • The employee must have been working for the company for one year within the previous three years
  • The employee must want to enter the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

L Blanket Approval: Expediting the L-1 Visa Process

If a company frequently has need for L-1 visa intracompany transfers, USCIS for "blanket petitions" that enable firms to file Form 1-129S and send it to the employee in need of the visa. That form, along with essential documents expedite the L-1 visa process and saves time, money and stress.

With L Blanket approval, US companies can bring several foreign employees to the United States quickly and on short notice. A company can be eligible for an L Blanket petition if:

    • The petitioner and each of the qualifying entities are engaged in commercial trade or services
    • The U.S.-based petitioner has an office that has been engaging in business for one year or more
    • The petitioner has a minimum of three domestic and foreign branches, affiliates or subsidiaries
    • The petitioner and its qualifying foreign entities meet one of these three criteria:
      • Successfully obtained at least 10 L-1 petition approvals in the previous 12-month period
      • Have U.S. affiliates or subsidiaries with at least $25 million in annual sales; or
      • Have a U.S. workforce of more than 1,000 employees

L-1 Visa Process Times

L-1 visa processing times vary depending on which service center is handling the case. Processing times range from 1-4 months to 7-9 months.

Employers can choose L-1 visa premium processing related to Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, to expedite the process for an additional $2,500, with guaranteed processing within 15 days.

L-1 Document Compliance

Companies must have a complete tracking and compliance system to manage and track all L-1 visas. Immigration compliance procedures can help employers ensure that

  • all deadlines are met and renewals, changes in status and other immigration applications are submitted on time and with the correct documentation.
  • if they are audited by USCIS, their documents comply at all times with USCIS standards and requirements.

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Do You Need an L-1 Visa Intracompany Transfer?

An experienced L-1 visa lawyer gives you the best possible chance of having your L-1 visa or blanket petition approved by USCIS. Ackah Business Immigration Law's experienced Canada and U.S. immigration lawyers have extensive experience in handling L-1 visas and can identify and troubleshoot problems before they happen.

Book a consultation with Ackah Law today or contact us at (403) 452‑9515 or email us at contact@ackahlaw.com.



Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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After two attempts to manage spousal sponsorship visa on our own, we decided that it was worth the money and ease of mind to hire a professional. I'm so glad we did! With Ackah Law, all of the processes were made clear and every detail correct. Communication was timely and it was rarely a challenge to get a live call or meeting that worked with our busy schedules. It's expensive to retain a lawyer, of course, but for the many ways that the Canadian immigration systems have changed in the past few years, a good law firm is indispensable. My only feedback would be to expand their business to offer a start-to-settlement concierge service, because the paperwork doesn't end when you land! :)

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