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The L-1B Visa: Transferring Employees with Specialized or Advanced Knowledge

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United States immigration law allows global businesses to transfer employees from a foreign office to a United States office when such a decision is necessary to the interests of the business.  The L-1B visa allows a company to transfer an employee with “specialized knowledge” to come work in the United States.  Once an application is submitted and approved, the foreign worker may apply for the visa and relocate to the U.S. to work with the petitioning company.

A potential L-1B visa employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (whether that company is a parent company, a branch, a subsidiary, or an affiliate), and must be doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country. The latter can be done directly or through a qualifying organization so long as it is for the duration of the L-1B visa holder’s stay in the United States. The L-1BVisa is initially granted for 1 year. Extensions are permitted but may not be renewed past five years.

The L-1B employee must work for the foreign organization in a specialized knowledge position abroad for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding entry into the United States.  They must be entering the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.  Regulations state that “specialized knowledge” is considered as (1) specialized knowledge possessed by an employee of the organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets; or (2) an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. 

Proving the employee and the position qualify for L-1B designation can be tricky and confusing for many employers, and it is a common reason for application to be denied if it is not carefully and meticulously explained through documented evidence.  Generally, an employer should submit evidence that the employee has specialized knowledge through education, training, and experience.  To show that the offered position in the U.S. and the position abroad qualify as specialized knowledge positions, the employer must submit evidence such as explanations of the training and experience required to perform the job; letters identifying specific duties; and detailed descriptions of things like products, tools, techniques, and processes of which the employee has specialized knowledge.

There are numerous visas that apply to very specific criteria when entry into the United States is necessary for a business to further its goals. You should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to fully understand the L-1B visa process and determine whether this visa is right for you and your business.

BUSINESS OWNERS AND HR MANAGERS: FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND!  Your company’s foreign employees may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet.  If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration starts making changes that may affect your employees and your business.  Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation.  If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation

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