Frequently Asked Questions about L-1 Visas

Q: Is my employer required to obtain a prevailing wage determination or pay a predetermined wage to me as an L-1 employee?

A:No. A prevailing wage determination is not required for an L-1 visa application. However, according to a recent precedent-setting ruling, employment contracts must meet both federal and state minimum-wage laws. Further, the transferee’s wage should be considered reasonable as a function of such factors as the size of the petitioning company and business practices in the associated market.

Q: Can I change my work location when I’m in L-1 status?

A: Yes, if you are taking a position with similar duties with the same employer. But you must file an amendment petition and notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of this change.

Q: Can I change jobs and work for another U.S. affiliate of the same overseas corporation?

A: No. If you are going to work for another company, the other affiliate needs to file an independent L-1 petition for you. You can’t use your original L-1 to work for this other company, despite its being a related company.

Q: My L-1 visa was just approved! I’m excited but also want to start thinking ahead. What is the maximum time I can work in the U.S. under L-1 status?

A: Good for you, and it’s equally great you’re taking the long view. The answer to your question depends on the type of L-1 visa that was approved: L-1A or L-1B. For the L-1A visa, the maximum duration is seven years; for the L-1B, it’s five years. Initial approval is usually for three or fewer years, However, the initial duration for an L-1A visa used to establish a new office is only one year. so you may need to apply for a renewal before your current visa expires.

Q: My company is considering an L-1A visa for me to work at our U.S. branch, and I was asked to provide proof of my educational qualifications. I am worried because I actually never went to college. Am I still qualified for an L-1A visa? Does my lack of a bachelor’s degree make my case weaker?

A: You can still qualify for an L-1 without a bachelor’s degree, as long as you meet the category’s requirements. There is no minimum educational requirement for an L-1A. Indeed, education is only one of several factors USCIS will consider when determining whether or not you, as the beneficiary, have the ability to perform as a “manager” or “executive,” which are the L-1A qualifying positions for employees.

Q: My company is opening a new branch in the U.S., and the board wants to send me there to supervise our operations. We are considering petitioning for an L-1A visa, but it seems hard for us to prove that my prospective position is qualified since we currently have only one employee at the new branch. Would I still potentially qualify as an L-1A beneficiary?

A: Yes. Your case falls into the “new office” category, which has a specific set of rules.

The new office provision is designed for those offices which are, at the time of the filing, not fully established or able to support the services of a full-time manager or executive. Instead of proving that the relevant positions exist, the new office need only provide a lease for its office as evidence that an office location has been secured, as well as a business plan to show that the company will develop in the future to such a degree that it will be able to afford and require a managerial or executive position.

One downside, however, is that the initial duration for a new office L-1A visa is only one year.

Q: I’m currently in L-1A status, but I recently filed an I-485 adjustment of status petition based on an approved EB-1C visa application. Can I travel abroad while my application for adjustment of status is pending without jeopardizing my L status?

A: Yes. If your L visa is still valid, you may use it to re-enter the U.S. You will remain in L status when you return.

If your L visa expires while you are traveling, you can apply for a new L visa at a consular office overseas and use it to re-enter the U.S. in L status, provided you return to work for the same L visa petitioning employer.

If the above options do not suit your situation, you will alternatively need to apply for advance parole to ensure that your adjustment of status application is not considered abandoned. If you use advance parole to re-enter, however, you will no longer be in L status; rather, you will be in parolee status.

Q: What is a “blanket application?”

A: This is a procedure designed specifically for businesses that are frequent users of the L-1 visa. Large multinational corporations with three or more branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates are eligible for this streamlined petitioning process if they meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Combined annual sales of at least $25 million;
  • A U.S. workforce of 1,000 (or more) employees; or
  • No fewer than 10 approved L petitions in the previous calendar year.

In order to petition using a blanket application, the employer must obtain approval from the service center with jurisdiction over the associated worksite, and then submit Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition. Once the blanket is approved, the company may transfer aliens to the U.S. on short notice without having to file an individual L visa petition for each employee.

For more information on the L-1 category, refer to the following links:

Updated 05/18/2017