L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa
E-2 Essential Employee Visa application process
The EB-1 green card
EB-2 green card
EB-3 green card application process

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa is a popular immigration option for employees of multinational companies who wish to work in the United States. This visa category allows qualified individuals to transfer from a company outside the U.S. to a related U.S. company. Unlike many other visa programs, the L-1 visa has no annual cap on the number of visas issued. In this guide, we will explore the essential aspects of the L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa, including the eligibility criteria, validity period, and application process.

1. Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for an L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria:

  • Employment Outside the U.S.

Applicants must have been employed by a qualifying entity outside the United States for at least one year within the past three years.

  • Employment Categories

The L-1 visa has two employment categories, each with distinct criteria:

a. Managers and Executives (L-1A Visa)

– Managers: Individuals who manage an entire organization, a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. They supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees. They have authority over personnel decisions such as hiring and firing. They make decisions concerning day-to-day operations.

– Executives: Individuals who direct the management of the organization or a major function or component. They set the goals or policies of the organization. They possess extensive discretionary decision-making authority. They receive only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, a board of directors, or the organization’s stockholders.

b. Specialized Knowledge Workers (L-1B Visa)

– Specialized Knowledge Workers have advanced knowledge of the company’s products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, or its application in international markets. They may also possess advanced knowledge of the company’s processes and procedures.

  • U.S. Company Relationship

The U.S. company where the applicant intends to work must have a qualifying relationship with the non-U.S. employer. The relationship can take various forms, including:

– Parent: A non-U.S. company that owns more than 50% of the U.S. company.

– Branch: Different operating locations of the same company.

– Subsidiaries: A U.S. company that owns at least 50% of a non-U.S. company.

– Affiliates: No direct ownership between the entities; both are controlled by a common third entity, which can be a company, group, or individual.

– Joint Venture Partners: There is no common ownership between the two companies, but they have jointly undertaken a common business operation or project.

International accounting firms have special rules, as they are often part of international accounting organizations.

The qualifying entities can take various legal forms, including corporations, limited corporations, partnerships, joint ventures, sole proprietorships, non-profit organizations, or religious organizations.

  • Ongoing Non-U.S. Company Operations

It is essential that the non-U.S. company remains in operation while the L-1 visa holder is in the United States, and the applicant should be prepared to show intent to return to work for the non-U.S. company after the L-1 assignment in the U.S. concludes.

2. Validity Period and Extensions

The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa has specific validity periods and extension options based on the visa category and circumstances:

The L-1 visa is typically issued for an initial period of one year for new office L-1 visas.

– Managers and executives (L-1A visa holders) can generally extend their visas for up to 2 years at a time. However, it’s essential to verify current regulations, as policies may change.

– Specialized knowledge workers (L-1B visa holders) can also extend their visas for up to 2 years at a time, subject to prevailing policies.

L-1A visa holders, including managers and executives, can stay in the United States for a maximum of 7 years, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.

– L-1B visa holders, who are specialized knowledge workers, can stay for a maximum of 5 years, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

Any time spent in H visa status counts toward the maximum stay period of five or seven years for L-1 visa holders.

L-1 visa holders can continue working while an extension is pending, up to the authorized stay period, plus an additional 240 days.

Blanket L-1 Visa Extensions

For companies using the blanket L-1 visa, extensions work differently:

Blanket L-1 visas can be extended only once after the initial three years. After this extension, the blanket L-1 visa becomes valid indefinitely.

Once an individual reaches the maximum stay allowed on an L-1 visa (five or seven years), they must spend one year outside the U.S. before returning with another H or L visa.

If an L-1 visa holder must leave the U.S. after an L-1 extension has been approved, they must visit a U.S. consulate to obtain a new visa stamp to be able to return.

Spouses and dependent children of L-1 visa holders can obtain L-2 visas. L-2 visa holders are authorized to work upon arriving in the U.S..

L-1 visa holders can apply for permanent residency (green card) in the United States. Managers and executives often qualify for EB-1 visas, which do not require labor certification. Specialized knowledge workers may pursue EB-2 or EB-3 visas, which require labor certification.

L-1 visa status is considered « dual intent, » meaning that an L-1 visa holder can have the intent to live and work in the U.S. temporarily while also having the intent to eventually seek permanent residency.

4. The Application Process

Step 1 : Proof of Eligibility

To prove eligibility for an L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa, applicants must provide detailed documentation:

– Detailed statements from both U.S. and non-U.S. companies explaining:

  – Dates of employment.

  – Qualifications.

  – Salary.

  – Specific duties.

  – The number and kind of employees supervised.

– Organizational charts, especially to demonstrate managerial duties.

– A description of the job that the applicant will perform in the U.S.

– A comparison of the applicant’s peers abroad and in the U.S. to showcase advanced expertise and the corresponding need at the U.S. employer.

Applicants must also provide proof that both the U.S. and non-U.S. companies are engaged in trade or the rendering of services. This can be substantiated by providing copies of various documents, including:

– Articles of incorporation.

– Business registration certificates.

– Tax returns for the past two years.

– Annual reports or financial statements for the past two years.

– Payroll records for the past two years.

– Letters of reference from chambers of commerce.

– Promotional literature describing the nature of the company.

– Letters from banks indicating average account balances.

– Copies of leases or deeds for business premises.

Step 2 : Change of Status

If applicants are already in the U.S. and wish to change their status to an L-1 visa, they should follow these steps:

– File Forms I-129 & Form I-129L to apply for a change of status.

– Be aware that changing status to an L-1 visa from specific visa categories, such as Visa Waiver status, C, TWOV, D, K, and some J-1 categories, is not allowed.

– Applicants should be cautious to demonstrate that they had no preconceived intent to change status when initially entering the U.S.

– Spouses and children can apply for a change of status using Form I-539 for spouses and Form I-539S for children.

Step 3 : the U.S. Consulate

Once the L-1 visa petition is approved, the applicant must complete the following steps at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country:

– Visa application (DS-160).

– Payment of the application fee ($205).

– Gathering of documents as required by the consulate.

– Attend a consular interview and provide evidence of ties to the home country.

– Pay the visa issuance fee and prepare for entry into the United States.

The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa offers employees of multinational companies a valuable opportunity to work in the United States, promote business growth, and contribute to the U.S. economy. Understanding the eligibility criteria, validity period, and application process is crucial for a successful L-1 visa application.

E-2 Essential Employee Visa application process

1. The Requirements

E-2 Essential Employee Visa is available to foreign nationals from countries that have a qualifying treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. The applicant must be a national of the treaty country.

The primary purpose of the E-2 visa is to facilitate investment in the United States. To qualify, a substantial amount of capital must have been invested by an investor from the same treaty country in a U.S. enterprise. While there is no fixed minimum investment amount required by U.S. immigration law, the investment must be substantial in relation to the type of business and industry. To meet the visa requirements, the investor must either establish a new business in the U.S. or acquire an existing one. Evidence of the investment must be provided.

The E-2 applicant must serve in an essential role within the U.S. business. They must possess specialized skills or knowledge that are critical to the company’s operations.

Applicants are typically required to submit a comprehensive business plan that outlines the nature of the business, its financial projections, and the anticipated impact on the U.S. economy.

At least 50% ownership of the U.S. business must be held by nationals of the treaty country. The investor should have a controlling interest in the business.

The capital invested must be at risk in a commercial sense, and the applicant must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the success of the business.

2. The Visa Application Process

Once the business is established or acquired, the applicant can apply for the E-2 Essential Employee Visa by submitting Form DS-160 online and paying the required visa application fee.

The applicant must also schedule and attend an interview at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

During the interview, the consular officer assesses the applicant’s eligibility, the legitimacy of the investment, and the vital role the applicant will play in the business’s success.

If the visa is approved, the applicant will receive an E-2 visa stamp in their passport, which allows them to travel to the United States.

Upon entry to the U.S., the investor is allowed to work for the U.S. business in the essential employee role for the initial visa period.

To continue operating the business and stay in the U.S., the applicant can apply for extensions of stay as long as they meet the E-2 visa requirements.

E-2 visa holders can bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old to the United States under the E-2 dependent visa. Spouses are automatically allowed to work.

The EB-1 green card

The EB-1 green card, also known as the Employment-Based First Preference Visa, is a category of immigrant visas for individuals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors or researchers, and multinational managers or executives. It allows highly skilled and accomplished individuals to obtain lawful permanent residence (a green card) in the United States. Here’s an overview of the EB-1 green card application process:

1. Eligibility Requirements for the EB-1 Green Card (EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-1C)

The Employment-Based First Preference (EB-1) Green Card, often referred to as the « priority workers » category, is designed for individuals with exceptional abilities, outstanding university professors or researchers, and transferring executives or managers of multinational companies. Each subcategory has its own unique eligibility criteria:

A. EB-1A: Workers of Extraordinary Ability

To qualify for an EB-1A Green Card, individuals must meet the following requirements:

– Extraordinary Ability: Applicants must possess extraordinary ability in the fields of sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Extraordinary ability is defined as a level of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the respective field.

– Public Recognition: Applicants must provide evidence of their achievements and sustained national or international acclaim. This recognition can be demonstrated through awards, recognitions, publications, or other forms of public recognition.

– Sustained Acclaim: The applicant should have a sustained record of accomplishments and achievements that showcase their ongoing contributions to their field.

One notable aspect of the EB-1A Green Card is that it can be obtained without a job offer. However, having an employer-sponsor can streamline the application process.

B. EB-1B: Outstanding University Professors or Researchers

For individuals seeking the EB-1B Green Card as outstanding university professors or researchers, the following criteria apply:

– International Reputation: Applicants must have an international reputation for being outstanding in a particular academic field.

– Teaching or Research Experience: A minimum of three years of either teaching or research experience in the specified academic field is required.

– Specific Employment: Individuals must enter the U.S. to accept a specific teaching or research position at a university or institution of higher learning.

– Employer Qualifications: The U.S. sponsoring employer (university or research institution) must have a history of significant achievements in research and must employ at least three other full-time researchers.

– Permanent Position: The job offered must not be temporary; it should be for an unlimited or indefinite duration.

C. EB-1C: Transferring Executives or Managers of Multinational Companies

To qualify for the EB-1C Green Card as a transferring executive or manager of a multinational company, applicants must meet these requirements:

– Employment History: The applicant must have been employed as an executive or manager by a company outside the U.S. for at least one year out of the past three years. If already in the U.S. under a temporary visa, the same one-year requirement applies for the year before arriving in the U.S.

– U.S. Job Offer: The applicant must receive an offer for a managerial or executive position with a U.S. branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the same multinational company.

– Business Duration: The U.S. office or entity must have been in business for at least one year.

– Control and Veto Power: The U.S. office must meet specific criteria related to its relationship with the non-U.S. company. This includes control, veto power, or majority ownership by one of the entities.

– Managerial or Executive Role: The applicant must meet the definitions of either a manager or an executive:

   – Managers should oversee an organization, department, subdivision, component of an organization, supervise other managers, and have the authority to make significant personnel and operational decisions.

   – Executives should direct the management of an organization or a major part, set goals and policies, possess extensive decision-making authority, and receive only general supervision from higher-level executives.

Meeting these eligibility criteria is essential to qualify for the EB-1 Green Card. While each subcategory has specific requirements, all applicants must demonstrate their qualifications and meet the relevant standards.

2. Validity Period of the EB-1 Green Card and Visa Number Availability

The EB-1 Green Card offers recipients permanent residency status in the United States. However, the process leading to the issuance of the green card involves several steps and considerations regarding visa number availability. Here’s what you need to know about the validity of the EB-1 Green Card:

Validity Period: The EB-1 Green Card provides permanent residency, which means it has no set expiration date. Once you obtain the green card, you can reside and work in the United States indefinitely. However, the physical green card issued initially has a validity period of ten years. Before it expires, you will need to apply for a renewal to receive a new card. This renewal process helps ensure that your biographical information and photograph remain up to date.

Visa Number Availability: One of the significant factors affecting the EB-1 Green Card process is visa number availability. There are annual limits on the number of employment-based green cards issued each fiscal year. The demand for certain green card categories, including EB-1, often exceeds the available visa numbers. Therefore, you might have to wait for your priority date to become current before proceeding with the final stages of the green card application process.

Priority Date: The priority date is established when the initial step of your green card process is filed and approved. For the EB-1 category, this is usually the date when the Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, is received and accepted by USCIS. Your priority date determines your place in the queue for visa number allocation.

Visa Bulletin: The U.S. Department of State releases a monthly Visa Bulletin that outlines visa number availability for different green card categories. The bulletin includes two charts: the Filing Date Chart and the Final Action Chart. The Filing Date Chart indicates when you can submit certain application forms, such as Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, or Adjust Status. The Final Action Chart indicates when visa numbers are effectively available for green card issuance.

Waiting for Visa Number Availability: If your priority date is not yet current, you may need to wait until it becomes current according to the Visa Bulletin. Once your priority date is listed as current on the Final Action Chart, you can proceed with the final stages of your EB-1 Green Card application.

It’s important to monitor the Visa Bulletin regularly to stay informed about visa number availability. Depending on your country of chargeability and the demand in your specific green card category, the waiting time can vary significantly. While waiting, you can maintain your nonimmigrant status or employment authorization, if applicable, to remain in the United States legally.

3. The EB-1 Green Card Application Process

The application process for obtaining an EB-1 Green Card is complex and requires careful navigation of various steps. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you understand the process:

Step 1. Secure Eligibility: Before starting the application process, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for one of the three EB-1 categories: EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability), EB-1B (Outstanding University Professors or Researchers), or EB-1C (Transferring Executives or Managers of Multinational Companies).

Step 2. Employer Sponsorship: In most cases, you’ll need an employer to sponsor your EB-1 Green Card application. Your sponsoring employer will file the necessary forms and support your application.

Step 3. Labor Certification (EB-1B Only): If you are applying under the EB-1B category, your sponsoring employer must complete the labor certification process. This involves proving that no qualified U.S. workers are available to fill the job position. The labor certification process aims to protect the interests of U.S. workers.

Step 4. File Form I-140: The next step is to file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form serves to establish your eligibility for the EB-1 Green Card. It must include evidence supporting your qualification in the chosen category and your employer’s financial ability to pay your wage.

Step 5. Premium Processing (Optional): For faster processing, you can opt for premium processing by paying an additional fee. USCIS will then process your Form I-140 within 15 calendar days.

Step 6. Multiple Petitions: You have the option to file several petitions under different EB-1 categories to increase your chances of approval. Each petition should meet the specific requirements of the chosen category.

Step 7. Priority Date: USCIS will assign a priority date to your approved Form I-140. This date establishes your place in the queue for visa number allocation.

Step 8. Visa Number Availability: Monitor the Visa Bulletin to check when your priority date becomes current and visa numbers are available for your category.

Step 9. File Adjustment of Status (AOS) or Consular Processing: Once your priority date is current, you can proceed with either Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) if you are in the U.S. or Consular Processing (DS-260) if you are outside the U.S. Both processes lead to the final issuance of your green card.

    • Adjustment of Status (AOS): If you are already in the United States, you can apply for Adjustment of Status by filing Form I-485 with USCIS. This form seeks to adjust your nonimmigrant status to permanent residency. You may need to attend an in-person interview at a USCIS office.
    • Consular Processing: If you are outside the United States, you will need to complete the consular processing at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country. This involves submitting the DS-260 application online, attending an interview, and providing the necessary documentation.

Step 10. Receive Your Green Card: Upon successful completion of either the AOS or Consular Processing, you will receive your EB-1 Green Card, granting you permanent residency in the United States.

EB-2 green card

The EB-2 green card, or Employment-Based Second Preference Visa, is a category of immigrant visas for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in their field. It allows highly skilled professionals and individuals with outstanding abilities to obtain lawful permanent residence (a green card) in the United States. Here’s an overview of the EB-2 green card application process:

1. The Eligibility Criteria:

There are three primary subcategories within the EB-2 preference category:

     – EB-2A: Individuals with Exceptional Ability

     – EB-2B: Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees

     – EB-2C: National Interest Waiver (NIW) for Individuals with Exceptional Ability or Advanced Degrees

In most cases, EB-2 applicants (except those seeking a National Interest Waiver) must obtain a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. This process involves demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position and that hiring the foreign worker will not negatively impact U.S. workers.

2. The Application Process

Step 1. Gather Evidence:

   – Applicants must gather substantial documentation and evidence to demonstrate their eligibility under the chosen EB-2 subcategory. This may include educational degrees, work experience, letters of recommendation, publications, and other evidence of exceptional abilities or achievements.

Step 2. Job Offer (In Most Cases):

Most EB-2 applicants require a job offer from a U.S. employer. The employer typically initiates the labor certification process (if applicable) and sponsors the applicant for the green card.

Step 3. File Form I-140:

The next step is to file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, with USCIS. The employer (or the applicant, in the case of a National Interest Waiver) files this petition.

The petition should include all required supporting documentation and evidence of eligibility.

Step 4. Premium Processing (Optional):

Applicants can request premium processing for an additional fee, which expedites the processing time for the I-140 petition.

Step 5. USCIS Review:

USCIS reviews the EB-2 petition to determine if the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for their chosen subcategory.

Step 6. Priority Date and Visa Bulletin:

The applicant’s priority date, established when the I-140 petition is filed, is crucial. It determines their place in the visa queue, as immigrant visas are subject to annual numerical limits. Applicants must monitor the Visa Bulletin to check when visa numbers become available.

Step 7. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing:

  • If the applicant is already in the United States, they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
  • If the applicant is outside the United States, they must go through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain an immigrant visa.

Step 8. Green Card Interview (If Applicable):

Applicants adjusting status in the U.S. may be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office.

3. The Validity

Once USCIS approves the I-485 application or if the applicant initially received an immigrant visa through consular processing, they will receive their permanent (10-year) green card.

The EB-2 green card is a popular category for highly skilled professionals and individuals with exceptional abilities. Additionally, processing times, visa availability, and requirements may change, so it’s advisable to refer to the USCIS website or seek legal guidance for the most up-to-date information.

EB-3 green card application process

The EB-3 green card, officially known as the Employment-Based Third Preference Visa, is a visa category designed to facilitate the lawful permanent residence of skilled workers, professionals, and other workers with varying levels of qualifications. It’s crucial for prospective applicants to begin by discerning the specific subcategory within EB-3 that best aligns with their qualifications and experiences:

     – EB-3A: Skilled Workers: This subcategory requires applicants to possess at least two years of training or work experience in a specific field or occupation.

     – EB-3B: Professionals with bachelor’s Degrees: This classification is intended for individuals seeking employment in positions that necessitate a minimum of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.

     EB-3C: Other Workers: For unskilled or low-skilled workers who do not meet the prerequisites of EB-3A or EB-3B.

1. Determining Eligibility

  • Labor Certification (For Most EB-3 Applicants):

In the majority of EB-3 cases, applicants are mandated to obtain labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This labor certification process constitutes a pivotal step in demonstrating that no qualified U.S. workers are available for the intended position and that the employment of a foreign worker will not adversely impact the wages or working conditions of U.S. employees.

  • Securing a Valid Job Offer:

A critical prerequisite for EB-3 applicants is the acquisition of a legitimate job offer from a U.S. employer. Typically, the sponsoring employer initiates the labor certification process (if required) and serves as the petitioner for the green card application.

  • Comprehensive Documentation Compilation:

Applicants are tasked with the meticulous gathering of a comprehensive array of documents and evidence that substantiate their eligibility under their chosen EB-3 subcategory. This documentation may encompass educational degrees, an employment history, letters of recommendation, and any other proofs of qualifications directly relevant to the offered position.

  • Filing Form I-140 Petition:

The formal initiation of the immigrant status application under EB-3 involves the submission of Form I-140, officially known as the Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Generally, it is the sponsoring employer who files this petition, though certain EB-3 workers have the option to self-petition. It is of utmost importance that the I-140 petition is submitted with all requisites supporting documents and applicable fees.

As an expedited processing alternative, applicants have the choice to opt for premium processing, which necessitates an additional fee but expedites the processing time for the I-140 petition.

USCIS undertakes a meticulous and comprehensive review of the I-140 petition to verify whether the applicant satisfactorily meets the eligibility criteria stipulated by their chosen EB-3 subcategory. This review process encompasses the verification of the authenticity and sufficiency of all submitted evidence.

Each EB-3 applicant is assigned a priority date, which is established at the time of filing the I-140 petition. The priority date assumes a pivotal role in determining the applicant’s position in the visa queue, as immigrant visas are subject to annual numerical limits. Thus, it is imperative for applicants to regularly monitor the Visa Bulletin to stay apprised of visa availability.

  • Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing:

EB-3 applicants have two distinct pathways to progress, contingent upon their current location and immigration status:

If the applicant is physically present in the United States, they are eligible to file Form I-485, commonly referred to as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which facilitates their transition to lawful permanent resident (green card holder) status.

If the applicant resides outside the United States, they must undergo consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate to secure an immigrant visa, which serves as a prerequisite for lawful permanent residence.

Applicants who are adjusting their status within the United States may be summoned for an in-person interview at a USCIS office. This interview serves to evaluate the applicant’s eligibility and admissibility as a prospective green card holder.

Upon USCIS’s approval of the I-485 application (for applicants adjusting status) or if the applicant initially obtained an immigrant visa through consular processing, they will be granted a permanent (10-year) green card. This crucial document bestows lawful permanent residence in the United States, signifying the successful culmination of the EB-3 green card application process.

The EB-3 green card application process is an intricate journey that demands meticulous attention to detail and strict adherence to specific eligibility criteria. Due to the potential intricacies and the ever-evolving landscape of U.S. immigration policies, it is strongly recommended that applicants seek the guidance of experienced immigration attorneys or legal experts to navigate the EB-3 green card application process effectively. Furthermore, it is imperative to remain vigilant and informed about changes in U.S. immigration laws and regulations, as these may significantly impact the application process.