L-1 VISAS FOR THE TECH INDUSTRY
The L-1 visa, also known as the intra-company transferee visa, is specifically designated for a worker of a multi-national company who is being sent to the U.S. to work for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch of the company that has its operations in the U.S.
The IT industry in recent years has taken advantage of this visa category to send experienced staff to the U.S.A. to work for and direct such companies. Many companies in India and China have sent their best and brightest to the U.S. to work in the L-1A category, which is set aside for employees who have director and manager experience.
The L-1B category involves staff who are highly specialist, both in the tech industry as a whole and who have accumulated knowledge and expertise working for the company in their home country, which is required in the company in the U.S.A.
In the L-1A visa category, the executive or manager has to have been employed for the company which qualifies to transfer eligible employees in the capacity as a manager or as an executive for at least a continuous year in the last three years. In the case of the L-1B category an employee with specialized knowledge of the services, products or procedures of the organization will have to prove that he or she has completed the same work requirement overseas too.
For the growing IT industry, there are several advantages of the L-1 classification which includes
- no yearly caps on foreign nationals numbers;
- no need to pay the prevailing wage;
- the visa has dual intent status so that a foreign national is able to apply to become a permanent resident without affecting his or her non-immigrant visa status on L-1. This is a great incentive for company employees wishing to reside permanently in the U.S;
- employment opportunities for spouses.
What do tech companies have to prove before an employee can be approved?
It is not the question of just having a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch in the U.S. and the employee gets the right to an L-1 visa. There is much documentation required by the UCSIS to prove the following:
- that an eligible relationship exists between the foreign company and the U.S. company;
- the two companies should be operating for the visa duration which is between 5 and 7 years;
- the prospective L-1 employee must have been employed abroad by the transferring business for no less than one year in the previous three years;
- the prospective L-1 employee must possess the knowledge and ability that will be of value to the competitiveness of the U.S. company, whether it is in the role of director/manager or as a person with highly specialized knowledge.
One of the biggest hurdles for IT companies is offering satisfactory evidence that the employee they are petitioning for the specialized knowledge L-1B visa has been a key employee overseas and his or her work has contributed significantly to the enhancing of productivity, financial status and competitiveness of the company.