Foreign nationals who come to work in the United States from parent companies abroad must go through a complex process for obtaining the proper visa. Maryland has a significant immigrant population, as one in seven residents of the state is an immigrant, and one in eight is American-born with an immigrant parent.
There are a number of work visas available to foreign nationals, including the L1 visa classification for temporary workers. Both L-1A and L-1B are nonimmigrant visas for the intracompany transfer to this country of managerial staff or other employees who work in either executive functions or positions requiring specialized knowledge.
This visa classification permits a company to transfer foreign nationals from an affiliated foreign office to a subsidiary or parent entity of that company in the United States. It also permits foreign companies that do not yet have subsidiary entities in this country to send an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge over in order to establish an affiliated U.S. office.
Establishing qualifications for an L1 visa
To obtain either an L-1A or L-1B visa, the employer must first file a petition for the qualified employee to come to the United States. For foreign companies wishing to establish an affiliated entity in the United States, it is necessary to verify:
- a physical location for a U.S. office
- that the employee has worked with the company at least one year within a three-year period prior to filing
- that the new office will support this position within one year of approval
To qualify for either visa under the L1 classification, the employee must verify that they have worked abroad for the qualifying organization for one continuous year within a three-year period.
For the L-1A visa, the applicant requesting the entry visa must show that they will fill the same executive or managerial function they have had at the parent company to the domestic branch or affiliate. For the L-1B visa, the applicant must show that they will provide services to the affiliate in their specialized knowledge capacity.
Challenges to obtaining an L1 visa
The process for obtaining an L1 visa can be very complicated, and a failure to comply with deadlines or verification procedures can create significant problems. Because the rules and are very strict, any discrepancies can lead to a Request for Evidence (RFE), which will delay the application process. For residents of Prince George’s County, it may make sense to get more information on how to proceed before applying.