Last updated Nov. 2015
The L-1 nonimmigrant visa is for intracompany transfers. Multinational employers petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for permission to hire foreign workers who are their current or former employees. Employers must do business both in the U.S. and abroad, either directly or through affiliates, throughout the duration of the foreign workers’ stay in the United States. There are two subclasses within L-1: L-1A for executives and managers and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. However, both of these subclasses receive the same L-1 visa and rules for each vary only slightly. A total of 62,430 L-1 visas were issued in 2012. Half of all L-1 workers are from Asia and almost 30% are from India. The largest employers of L-1 workers are in the computer and technical industries. There is no role for the U.S. Department of Labor in the L-1 visa program, no labor market test, and no prevailing wage required. L-1 visas are only valid for work with the petitioning employer and are valid for up to five or seven years. Employers may sponsor their
L-1 workers for legal permanent residence. Because L-1 visas are for individuals that are already employed by the importing companies, the program does not have the same issues with respect to foreign recruitment as other nonimmigrant visas. The L-1 regulations contain virtually no worker protections and as such, there is no coordinated enforcement scheme.