Van Der Hout LLP

Specialized Knowledge Personnel

A qualifying U.S. employer may file an I-129 Visa Petition for L-1B status on behalf of an alien who is described in Section 101(a)(15)(L) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In order to establish eligibility for the transfer of specialized knowledge personnel, a petitioning employer must demonstrate that the following criteria have been met:

1. The employee must have worked abroad for the employer or a related organization for a continuous period of one year within the preceding three years. Under recent changes, the qualifying experience requirement has been reduced to six months of experience with the foreign company if the individual is transferred to the U.S. under a blanket L-1 petition.

2. The petitioner must be a qualifying organization, that is an organization which is doing business in the United States and at least one other country. Business activity in both the USA and abroad must continue throughout the entire period in which the transferee will be employed in the United States.

3. A qualifying relationship must be established between the foreign and the United States business; the foreign organization or office must be an affiliate, subsidiary, parent or branch of a United States corporation. For example, the companies may be branch offices of the same organization; the United States company may own over 50% of the foreign company or vice versa; both companies may be majority owned (over 50%) by the same individual or group of individuals; both companies may be involved in a joint venture. NOTE: Although it is usually presumed that the entities involved in the transfer will be incorporated in each location, this is not actually a strict requirement and qualifying organizations may be sole proprietorships, partnerships, or branch offices.

4. The employee must have been employed abroad in a position requiring “Specialized Knowledge”. L-1Bs are most often granted to employees who have specific knowledge of the petitioner’s business through past experience with that employer (not just specialized knowledge in their field). Frequently this involves specific product knowledge or experience not readily available in the United States’ or special experience in a particular international market. More precisely, an individual possessing “Specialized Knowledge” must either:

a. “possess special knowledge of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or”

b. “possess an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.”

5. The employee need not be employed in the same capacity in the United States that he/she was abroad. For example, a “specialized knowledge” employee abroad may be coming to the United States to fill a managerial position.

6.The employee must be qualified for the position by virtue of his or her prior education and experience.

7.The L-1B employee alien must intend to depart the United States upon completion of his or her authorized stay (including extension), but may also pursue permanent residence at the same time.

Duration of Stay: An alien may be admitted to the United States in L-1 status for up to a maximum initial period of stay of three years. The maximum period of stay may reach five years for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel.

Employee may remain on the foreign payroll in L-1B status: An L-1B visa may be issued when a foreign national will make brief and infrequent trips to the United States, for example to oversee a United States operation/installation etc. The L-visa applicant must be employed by the company on a full-time basis but the alien does not have to be engaged on a full-time basis in the United States and may divide work between the United States and another country. As a result, an alien who is principally employed out of the United States and resides out of the United States may receive an L visa for the purpose of coming to work on a short-term basis.

Please note, family members who derive nonimmigrant status from an L-1B visa holder will be classified as L-2 nonimmigrants. L-2 spouses (not children) are allowed to apply for work authorization after they arrive in the U.S. L-2 nonimmigrants are allowed to attend school while in the U.S.