Can My L-1 Visa be Transferred to Another Company?
Many immigrants are in the United States with an L-1 Visa, as an executive, manger or an employee who has specialized knowledge, working with a particular international company. In order to qualify for an L-1 visa, these workers had to have been employed with a company outside the U.S. affiliated with the U.S. business sponsoring the visa, for 1 year of the last 3 years, prior to the grant of their L-1 visa.
These individuals are generally highly skilled professionals, and after working in the U.S. they may be offered a job at a different company. Unfortunately L-1 visas are not permitted to be transferred to any business or entity with whom they have not worked for 1 year of the last 3 years, as listed in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G). This dramatically limits the options for L-1 visa holders to transfer to a different employer.
Our immigration attorneys have years of experience handling L-1 Visa cases and can help you determine the best options in your immigration case. Call FitzGerald Law Company at (617) 303-2600 for a case consultation.
What are the Options for Transferring my L-1 Visa?
L-1 Visas cannot be “transferred,” to most new employers. In order to “transfer” or “change” employers, the new sponsoring business must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company that employed the L-1 visa holder for 1 of the last 3 years.
The qualifying relationship between the petitioning employer and the foreign company is defined in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G) as a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary specified in the regulations.
General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee
In order to obtain a new L-1 Visa, both you and the employer you are transferring to or within will need to requalify. The petitioning employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the appropriate filing fees, on behalf of the prospective employee.
The following are the qualifications that employers and employees must meet when applying for an L-1 Visa:
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the petitioning employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, as a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, with whom the beneficiary (prospective employee) was employed in 1 of the last 3 years. The petitioner must also currently be or will be engaged in business activities in the U.S. (having just an office or an agent in the US does not qualify as “business activities”)and the foreign entity must be able to continue to function as a business without the prospective employee.
For a prospective employee/beneficiary to qualify for an L-1 visa, they must have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for 1 continuous year within the last 3 years immediately preceding the grant of their visa. The prospective employee/beneficiary must employed by the petitioner as an executive / manager (for L-1A visa) or as an employee with specialized knowledge (including but not limited to products, equipment, technology, research, procedures management) related to its business (for and L-1B visa).
Our immigration attorneys can review your case to determine if you and your prospective employee meet the qualifications for the filing of an L-1 Visa Petition. Visit our L-1 visa Web page for more information on the process of obtaining an L-1 visa.
What Documentation Do I Need for an L-1 Visa?
To meet the qualifications listed above, the petitioning employer will need to submit documentation to USCIS to demonstrate it eligibility of both the company and the prospective employee.
The petitioner company should generally have the following records in support of their L-1 Visa Petition:
• Registration records for the U.S. company and the qualifying foreign business, such as Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization
• Documentation showing evidence of a connection between the affiliates
• Copy of the Business Plan for the U.S. company, if it has not been fully operating for several years
• Financial statements and records of both the U.S. and the foreign business
• Copy of Tax Returns of both the U.S. and the foreign business
Letter of support for the Visa Petition from the U.S. company with the employee’s title, a detailed job description with any special skills relevant to the proposed position, and description of the prospective employee’s qualifications
• Salary and benefits being offered
• Company marketing materials
The prospective employee/beneficiary should provide several records in support of the L-1 Visa Petition:
- A copy of the their Passport
- A copy of the their U.S. Visa and I-94 Form, if they are already in the U.S.
- A copy of the their resume or C.V.
- A copy of their pay stubs or tax forms to demonstrate at least one year within the past three years of work with the qualifying foreign business
- A copy of the their diplomas and transcripts if their education is relevant
It is important to submit sufficient documentation to demonstrate eligibility for the visa with the initial filing of the petition. Otherwise, it can cause unnecessary delays in the processing of the application, or even result in a denial. Our immigration attorneys can help you with the records you need so that your new L-1 Visa can be properly processed.
How Long Does My L-1 Visa Status Last?
Usually, L-1 Visas are issued for one to three years at a time. You can also renew and maintain an L-1 Visa for periods of time not to exceed seven years for L-1A visas and for periods of time not to exceed five years for L-1B visas. These are statutory time limitations; therefore, if an employee/beneficiary is interested in remaining in the U.S. longer, it is important to begin a residency petition or a petition for an alternative non-immigrant visa as soon as possible. Our immigration attorneys can help you with evaluating and managing the options for L-1 visa holders.
What Happens to My Status If My L-1 Visa Application is Denied?
What will happen if your L-1 Visa application is denied would depend on the situation and whether you are the petitioning employer or the prospective employee/beneficiary. If you are the petitioning employer, then you may be able to seek a review of the denial directly with the USCIS office that issued the decision or with the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). If you are the beneficiary of the denied application and you currently are present in the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa, you would continue in that status. If you are the beneficiary of the denied application and your former visa status has expired, then you would no longer be in status and you may have to leave the U.S. Our immigration lawyers can help address the issues that led to your application’s denial and see what options you have moving forward.
Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
If you would like to learn more about how to transfer your L-1 Visa, you can schedule a Consultation with our experienced Boston immigration attorneys who can assist you with a review your case and answer any questions you may have.
Contact FitzGerald Law Company today at (617) 303-2600 or request an appointment online.