L-1 classifications are conferred upon persons who have been employed by a foreign company in a managerial or executive position, or one involving specialized knowledge. To quality, a person must have worked for the entity abroad for 1 of the last 3 years in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity and be transferred over to a subsidiary, affiliate or branch office in the United States.

Once the L-1 visa petition is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the person obtains a change of status or has the L-1 visa affixed to his/her passport, the employee is authorized to work only for the company in the United States.

The maximum time an L-1 visa is granted will be for 7 years for executive and managers, and 5 years for those with specialized knowledge. If the United States Company is a newly established corporation, the initial period will be for one (1) year.

The more activity the US company has that first year of operation, the higher the possibility that an extension of the L-1 will be granted. An extension may be granted if the supporting documents prove that both the U.S. Company and the company abroad are still in operation.

As soon as the U.S. Company has sufficient employees and income to justify a permanent position in the company for the manager or executive, a visa petition could be filed concurrently with the application for permanent residency.

Spouses and children under 21 of the beneficiary of the L-1 visa may obtain an L-2 visa, which permits them to live and study in the United States, and allows the spouses to obtain employment authorization and social security card, allowing them to work in the United States. The L-2 classification does not permit children to work, unless they obtain their own L-1, H-1B visa or another working visa category, if eligible.