Obtaining and Maintaining L Status

As is the case for any visa holder, recipients of L-1 visas gain admission into the United States at the border, upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. Obtaining a visa to this end does not guarantee that a foreign national will be allowed entry and thus earn a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant status. Immigration officers at the border possess the authority to deny admission to any foreign national, even if a visa has been issued. Fortunately, for the case of L-1 holders, such discretionary denials are rare. (For more information on the difference between a visa and status, click here.)

Status Check

Unsurprisingly, an alien seeking admission by way of an L-1 visa must have a valid passport with an L visa stamp. The alien should carry with him or her the approval notice of the L-1 petition, a copy of the petition, and a supporting letter.

If the immigration officer who greets an alien decides to admit the L-1 holder, the officer will place a stamp in the alien’s passport, which notes the alien’s admission and period of authorized stay. The immigration officer will review the alien’s Form I-94, which electronically records the L-1 holder’s arrival. (A Form I-94 is issued to every foreign national entering the U.S. and contains information about the alien’s legal authorized stay as well as the type of the authorized stay.) After the I-94 has been issued and reviewed at a port of entry, the L-1 holder obtains L status in the United States for the authorized period.

Status Maintenance

In order to maintain valid L status during their stay in the United States, in addition to complying with federal and state laws, L-1 holders cannot engage in unlawful employment. Simply put, this means that L-1 beneficiaries must work for the employer that petitioned for L status on their behalf and in the capacity specified in the petition. For L-1A holders, said capacity is the associated managerial or executive position, and for L-1B holders, this refers to the associated “specialized knowledge” position. L visa holders are prohibited from working for another employer.

Additionally, while an alien in L status may attend an academic institution without explicit approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), he or she must make certain that such enrollment is limited and incidental to his or her authorized employment.

If an alien in L status would like to stay in the U.S. longer than what his or her authorized stay allows, the alien must file an extension request with USCIS before the authorized stay expires. Failure to do so will jeopardize an alien’s stay and future re-entry into the U.S.

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

Updated 05/18/2017