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A Closer Look at the L-1B Visa

What is an L-1B Visa?

An L-1B visa can be a useful tool for international business owners.  In sum, this visa allows employers outside the U.S. to transfer employees to a U.S. company.  In general, if the person seeking the visa is creating a new office for the company, the visa will last one year.  All other employees’ visas can last up to a maximum of three years.  Regardless, applicants can renew their L-1 status after the USCIS grants them the L-1 visa.  The maximum period of stay with an L-1 visa is five years.

To qualify for L-1 classification as an employer or employee, the employer must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company; and
  • Currently, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and at least one other country

The named employee must also:

  • Generally have been working for an organization abroad for one year within 3 years of applying for the L-1B visa; and
  • Be seeking to provide services in the U.S. in a specialized knowledge capacity to the organization.


A Closer Look at the L-1B Visa

What does “Specialized Knowledge” Mean?

According to the USCIS, “specialized knowledge” is knowledge that is distinct, or uncommon when compared to the knowledge possessed by others in the same industry.  For example, knowledge with respect to the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests.

Because it can be difficult to prove specialized knowledge, we recommend that you consult an attorney before petitioning for the L-1B visa; however, the USCIS uses several factors to determine is an employee qualifies as one who has specialize knowledge.  These factors include:

  • The difficulty in teaching specialized knowledge to other employees;
  • Whether the knowledge is substantially beneficial to the company; and
  • Other relevant factors

Additionally, resumes, degree, certificates, contracts, and other communications may be relevant in establishing specialized knowledge.

If you would like to apply for an L-1B visa or would like to discuss other visa options, please contact us.  Our experienced immigration attorneys look forward to assisting you.

For more information about L-1B visas, visit the USCIS website which can be found here.

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