L1 Visa Definition

By Mallory Ferland
L1 visas are reserved only for those transferring to the United States with a company they are already employed by.
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L1 is a temporary work visa for qualified employees transferred within a company. As a temporary nonimmigrant visa, the employee can stay in the United States on the visa only for as long as it is valid (one year) unless a change of status is filed and approved. It cannot turn into a green card, as it is a nonimmigrant visa. The temporary nature of the visa allows for immediate family members of the employee to accompany her during their employment in the United States.

L1 Visa

The L1 visa is for intracompany transfer workers only; that is, the visa is reserved only for those who work in a company outside of the United States and are transferred to work in the same company inside of the United States. For example, a Microsoft employee in London who is transferred to the Seattle-area Microsoft offices would require an L1 visa.


In order to qualify for an intracompany transfer, the employee must already have been employed by the company in their own (or other location abroad) country for at least three years preceding the transfer. Transfer can be made to any part of the company, including general branches, parent branch, affiliate company or subsidiary company. The employee also must be transferring in order to fill a managerial or executive position. Proof of specialized knowledge to fulfill the position is required upon submission of worker petition.

Alien Worker Petition

Before application can be made for an L1 visa, the employer or employing representative of the U.S. company must file form I-129 Petition for Alien Worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form, available on the website of the USCIS, must be accompanied by proof of the workers eligibility for the position (college certification or specialization coursework) as well as the $320 filing fee. Only the employer can file I-129; the employee applicant must wait to receive an acceptance receipt number for the petition from the USCIS before she can apply for the visa.


All U.S. visas must be applied for at the U.S. embassy or consulate general that holds jurisdiction over the applicant's state or region of residence. All application appointments must be scheduled through the specific consulate and require the submission of the I-129 receipt number. Along with the receipt, applicants must posses a completed receipt of the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160, accessible through the website of the Department of State.

The additional Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-157 is required only for all male applicant between the ages of 16 and 45. All applicants are required to present a valid passport and two identical passport-style photographs. All applicants must attend an in-person interview at the U.S. consulate in order to be approved for a visa.

L2 Visa

L2 visas are accompanying visas to the L1 for spouses and children of the L1 holder who wish to accompany him to the United States. L2 spouses can study, work (after obtaining a work permit EAD from the USCIS) and travel in and out of the United States as often as desired. Application can only be done after the approval of the spouse's L1 visa and must be completed with an interview appointment at the U.S. consulate. DS-160 is also required for L2 holders as are copies of the L1 holders employment letters and visa approval receipt, marriage certificate, passport, fees and visa photographs. The L1 visa holder must also be able to prove that she can financially support her spouse and/or children while in the United States.