L-1B classification is for intracompany employees that are transferred to the U.S. for specialized knowledge of a company. L-1B status is used by specialized knowledge employees that are transferred from a company in a foreign country to an affiliated company in the U.S. If an office is not open in the U.S., employees who have specialized knowledge about the company can be transferred to the U.S. to set up an office.
Are you eligible? For starters, the U.S. employer must meet certain qualifications. The employer must have a relationship with the foreign company. This relationship can be one of the following: branch or parent companies (the foreign company created the U.S. office or vice versa), sister companies, or affiliated organizations. Two distinct companies that have nothing to do with each other will not qualify. But a company that spread internationally or is related to another company is qualified.
Also, the employer must be doing business in the U.S. and in at least 1 other country. This business can be direct or through the use of an affiliate business (sort of like a middle-man) while the employee stays in the U.S. “Doing business” means actively producing or supplying good and services. Just the presence of employees or offices abroad does not mean that they are “doing business”.
As an employee, you must meet certain requirements as well. Before coming to the U.S., it must be true that you worked for one whole year, nonstop, in the affiliate company abroad. Nonstop means that you did not take prolonged breaks during that year. For example, if you work at “Company 1” for 5 months, and then work for “Company 2” for a couple months and eventually come back to “Company 1” for the last 7 months does not mean you qualify. The job had to have lasted for one whole, complete year. Certain breaks like vacation might be acceptable. Speak with an attorney for more specific information about your case. Also, the year of employment must have been done within 3 years before coming to the U.S.
If you are the employee, you must also plan to come to the U.S. to provide services to the company or affiliate company. The services you can provide must depend on your specialized knowledge.
What is Specialized Knowledge? As the employee, your knowledge must consist of knowing information about the company you plan to work for. You must have extensive knowledge of the organization’s services or products provided, research or equipment that is used by the company, or the organization’s special techniques or management, AND how this company information is applied to the international market. Or you must have expertise in the company’s procedures or what actions the company takes to reach certain goals. Overall, specialized knowledge is not common in the industry you belong to. You have to be a notch above “skilled”. You need to know more than what the company’s interests are.
If you are sent to set up a new office, you must provide evidence of the area where the office will be located. The area must be sufficiently reserved by you or your company. The employer must be financially able to pay you and start a business.
If you come to set up a new office, you can stay for an initial period of 1 year. If you come as a professional employee, you can stay for 3 years. For both groups, the stay can be extended by 2 years until you reach the maximum of 5 years.
Your family can come to the U.S. too! Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for L-2 status. If approved, they can stay for as long as you do. Is your family already here? They can apply for L-2 status with Form I-765 with a fee. Your spouse can apply for and get work authorization while they stay here.
***Don’t meet the criteria of affiliated company? You might still be eligible: If you will be working at an unaffiliated company, your employer has to show…
That you will not be supervised by the unaffiliated organization employer AND
That you will not be considered “labor for hire” for the U.S. company or organization
This is not a full article on L-1B classification. There are a lot of other facts to consider and sometimes exceptions can be made to individual cases. For more information about L-1B status and whether or not you are eligible, contact specialized Immigration Lawyer Phillip Kim today!