The L-1A Visa for Company Transferees: What it Takes to Qualify

Learn about how your company can utilize the L-1A visa to transfer employees from foreign offices to US ones. Chugh, LLP Join Immigration Attorney Joy Dungca shares important details on what is required of US employers and employees to qualify for the L-1A visa. This conversation was recorded on August 26, 2021.

What is the l-1a visa?

The L-1A visa allows US employers to transfer an executive or manager from an affiliated foreign office to work in one of its US offices.

To qualify for the L-1A visa, the United States employer must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, as a parent company, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary, and
  • Operate as an employer that does business in the US and one additional country, either directly or through a qualifying organization, for the entire time that it employs the foreign national on the L-1A visa. Being present in the US and another country alone does not qualify as “doing business.”
Qualifying relationship

US petitioning companies must show that they have a qualifying relationship with a foreign entity to sponsor an individual on an L-1A visa. This means that they must show that either the US company or foreign entity has a direct or indirect legal right or authority to control the management or operations of the other.

This can be accomplished by showing that:

  • The US employer owns at least 51% of the shares of the foreign entity, or vice versa.
  • The two entities share a common parent – a third entity.
  • A group of stockholders or directors own the same number of shares in the US entity and the foreign entity, or approximately the same number.

While documentation may vary by jurisdiction of the foreign entity, you can demonstrate that a qualifying relationship exists with items like:

  • Share certificates.
  • Federal tax filings, which list the owners of the entity.
  • Audited reports.
Doing business

Both the US and the foreign entities involved must be in business for at least one year before sponsoring the L-1A employee. This means they must regularly and systematically provide goods or services. The mere presence of an agent or lease will not suffice. For example, a business cannot be merely incorporated in a US state. It must also have business activity there.

Businesses can prove that they are doing business with documentation including:

  • Federal tax filings.
  • Bank statements.
  • Invoices.
  • Marketing materials.
  • Brochures. 
  • Company website.
opening a new office

If your business has been operating for less than one year, it is still possible to sponsor an L-1A visa under the new office category. In this case, the petitioning company must prove that:

  • They have acquired the physical premises necessary for the new office.
  • The employee has worked for the organization for one continuous year during the three previous years immediately before filing the petition.
  • Within one year after the petition is approved, the new office will be able to support an executive or managerial position.
employee qualifications

Employees are also subject to certain requirements for the L-1A visa. These include:

  • Working for the petitioning organization in another country for at least one continuous year during the three previous years, and
  • Seeking to enter the US to work in an executive or managerial capacity for a qualifying organization. Managerial duties may be functional or personnel.
managers on l-1a visas

Employees sponsored on the L-1A visa must meet certain requirements to qualify as managers of their organization. Managers must:

  • Supervise or control the work of professionals, and manage the organization or one of its departments, functions, subdivisions, or components.
  • Supervise and control the work of other professional employees.
  • Have the authority to hire and fire their employees or make recommendations to that end.
  • Exercise discretion over daily activities.

To document that your L-1A employee performs managerial duties, your immigration professional may ask for documentation like:

  • Timesheets that the manager signs off on.
  • Employee leave approvals signed by the manager.
  • Expenses approved by the manager.

While some requirements are related to personnel management, individuals can also qualify for an L-1A visa if they are functional managers. Functional managers may not have people reporting to them. Instead, they manage an essential function within the organization.

executives on l-1a visas

It is also possible to sponsor an executive on an L-1A visa. This role is for individuals that:

  • Are at the top of the organizational hierarchy.
  • Manage the organization or a major component or function directly.
  • Establish the goals and policies of the organization or one of its components or functions.
  • Employ independence in discretionary decision-making. Only receive general supervision.

You can document executive roles with items like a copy of your company’s organizational structure.


For help sponsoring your employee on an L-1A visa, or for help understanding which visa may be the best fit, contact your trusted Chugh, LLP immigration professional.

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