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By:  Emily Pierce, Associate Attorney at Maged Rost

L-1 visas for intracompany transferees are popular options for some foreign nationals who would like to work for a US affiliate of the foreign company temporarily.[1] This article provides a general overview of the L-1 visa and its eligibility requirements, while subsequent posts will delve deeper into some of the nuances of this non-immigrant option.

To be eligible for admission into the United States as an intracompany transferee, the petitioning employer first must establish that the foreign national beneficiary worked for a company outside of the United States continuously for one year.[2] This year of employment abroad must occur within the three years preceding the beneficiary’s application for admission into the United States.[3] For example, if a beneficiary submits his application for admission on January 15, 2015, his continuous year of employment abroad must have occurred between January 15, 2012 and January 15, 2015.

Moreover, the year of employment abroad must be in a capacity that is “managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge.”[4] Practically speaking, managers and executives often have similar roles within in a business, and the particular job title may not hold significance. However, these job titles and, more importantly, job descriptions are terms of art in immigration law, and therefore the words “managerial,” “executive,” and “specialized knowledge” have very particular meanings that must be understood when applying for an L-1 visa.[5]

Second, the petitioner must prove that the beneficiary’s foreign employer and proposed U.S. employer are “qualifying organizations”[6] A foreign employer and a U.S. employer are qualifying organizations if they are a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of each other.[7] Additionally, the U.S. employer must be “doing business” in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States.[8]

The third requirement is that the beneficiary’s proposed employment in the U.S. must also be in a capacity that is “managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge.”[9] A future blog post will discuss the definitions of these terms of art.

When the beneficiary is coming to the United States as a manager or executive to open or to be employed in a new office, the petitioner must provide evidence that it satisfies three additional requirements.[10] First, the petitioner must establish that it has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office.[11] Second, the petitioner must demonstrate that the beneficiary’s employment abroad was in an executive or managerial capacity.[12] Third, the petitioner must prove that within one year of the approval of the petition, the new U.S. operation will support an executive or managerial position.[13]  A new office is one that has been doing business for less than one year in the United States.[14]

Finally, if the beneficiary is an owner or major stockholder of the company, the petitioner must establish that the beneficiary’s services are to be used for a temporary period only, and that the beneficiary will be transferred to an assignment abroad upon the completion of the temporary services in the United States.[15]

This article is a general overview of L-1 visas and it is not meant to replace the advice of an attorney. If you are interested in learning more, please consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Please return to for future posts containing more information about L-1 visas.

[1] INA § 101(a)(15)(L).

[2] INA § 101(a)(15)(L), 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(i), 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(A).

[3] Id.

[4] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(3)(iv).

[5] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B) – (D).

[6] INA § 101(a)(15)(L), 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(i).

[7] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G).

[8] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G)(2), 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(H).

[9] INA § 101(a)(15)(L), 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(i).

[10] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(3)(v).

[11] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(3)(v)(A).

[12] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(3)(v)(B).

[13] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(3)(v)(C).

[14] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(F).

[15] 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(3)(vii).


It is that time of year again. On April 1, 2015, the USCIS will again begin accepting petitions for cap-subject and Master-cap H-1Bs for FY-2016.

The fiscal year for 2016 begins October 1, 2015, the earliest start date that may be requested for such cases.  The USCIS will accept 65,000 cap-subject petitions plus an additional 20,000 petitions where the beneficiaries are graduates of US colleges or universities who have earned at least a Master degree.

This year our office has once again seen an increase in demand for new H-1Bs.  Although anecdotal, this trend suggests that numbers may not be available for very long.  The good news is that when we see demand for H-1Bs increase, it is usually a good barometer for how the country’s economy is doing as it means that employers are not only hiring, but are seeking some of the best and brightest foreign nationals as well.  Last year the cap was quickly exhausted and a lottery was conducted from among petitions that were received.  It is generally a good idea to get the process started early to avoid any last minute glitches during the busy H-1B season.

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Santa Image

One of the most frustrating things about being an immigration lawyer has always been the fact that there were so many people we were unable to help.  Immigration laws have been narrow, unforgiving and out of balance with the needs of the country.  For those who argue that those who are undocumented or who want to live in this country need to “get in the back of the line”, the best response is simply, “there is no line”.

President Obama’s Executive Action announced last week was a courageous step in the right direction.  Millions of people for whom there was no line will soon be given the opportunity to get into the system.  If this immigration action is an impetus to get Congress to enact something more permanent, that would be best of all.  However, the value of obtaining Employment Authorization Documents, Social Security Numbers, Driver’s Licenses and all of the privileges such documentation bestows should not be underestimated.  Once people have these documents, it is difficult for the government to take them away, especially from millions of people.

Our firm, along with many other immigration firms throughout the country, is keeping a list of potentially eligible applicants for Obama’s Action as well as potential comprehensive immigration reform that may eventually become law.  Although we are consulting with potential clients to examine their situations and determine their likely eligibility for benefits, we are not actually accepting cases at this time as the details of what will be required have not yet been released.

I suggest that those of you who have been living in the shadows start interviewing and locating an immigration lawyer or firm that has a list.  Once you feel comfortable with the firm, ask to be placed on the list and contacted when it is possible to move forward with your case.  Past experience has shown that most reputable firms will have accepted the maximum number of cases relatively early on.  Being on a list can increase the likelihood that competent immigration representation will be available when you need it.  Although Obama’s executive actions do not have a deadline per se, the next President can invalidate the executive order upon taking office.  This is an opportunity that should not be passed by.

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Immigrant Couple

Since President Obama announced his Executive Action that shakes up our current immigration system and will, at least temporarily, offer millions of people who are currently undocumented an opportunity to remain and work in the United States, immigration lawyers have been fielding a high volume of calls.  Many people want to know what they can do now and how this action affects them.  As important as what you should be doing immediately, is what you should not be doing.

Do not:

1.  Hire a “notario” or other Individual who is not authorized to represent you

In many countries, to become a “notario” requires as much education as to become a lawyer and those who hold this title have undergone a rigorous course of study.  This is not the case in the United States.  In the US, a notary is authorized to verify the authenticity of signatures and perform similar tasks.  It is not a profession and no particular course of study is required.  You should not hire a notary to represent you for an immigration matter.  Not only would you be wasting valuable time and money, but a notario, or incompetent attorney for that matter, can leave you in a worse position than where you started. has valuable information on protecting yourself from notario fraud.

2.  Hire a lawyer to start the process immediately

Although the executive action has been outlined, details have not yet been published and cases are not yet being accepted.  This will take several months.  So although you may want to review the available information and consult with an immigration lawyer about your specific circumstance, there is not enough information to move forward with a deferred action case (other than under than under the original DACA) until more details have been released.

3.  Leave the USA

Many aspects of the executive order will apply to people who have lived continuously in the United States for a specified period of time.  Therefore, unless you are required to do so, you should remain in the United States to apply for the benefits when they become available.


1.  Collect documentation to establish your eligibility

Documents such as birth and marriage certificates, passports, visas, I-94 cards, previously issued approval notices, denials, educational and work experience documentation, along with English translations should be obtained.  Other documents such as leases, tax returns and utility bills may be helpful to establish your presence in the United States.  Copies are generally accepted by the USCIS.

2.  Consult with a qualified immigration lawyer to review your likely eligibility and add your name to their list

Although starting the process now is ill-advised, consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer is something you can do immediately.  (S)he will help determine your eligibility, and answer any questions you may have.  You will want to meet a prospective lawyer with whom you can work in the future.  As with most areas of law, experience and a practice devoted exclusively to immigration law are generally good signs.  You can find an immigration lawyer by asking family, friends or colleagues.  If that does not yield results, searching online can generally give you an idea of a particular lawyer’s reputation.

If the lawyer or firm with whom you consult keeps a list of potentially qualified candidates, be sure to be placed on the list so that you can be contacted should the lawyer be able to assist you in the future.  In the past, when legalization programs have been announced, most reputable immigration law firms reached their capacity and had to stop accepting new cases.  This is another reason that it may be a good idea to get your foot in the door if you meet or hear of an attorney with whom you would like to work.

3.  Preparing funds for USCIS filing fees, possible back taxes, and professional fees

Benefits offered by the Executive Action won’t be free.  Filing fees, back taxes, legal and possible accountant fees need to be taken into account.  Although the fees have not yet been determined, one can expect that the total could well run several thousand dollars.

Stay tuned as I will be updating this page as new information becomes available on the President’s Executive Action and any action by Congress.

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By:  Emily Pierce, Associate Attorney at Maged Rost

Almost 25 years ago, Congress established the fifth employment-based visa category, commonly referred to as EB-5.  This immigrant visa category allowsforeign nationals to obtain green cards through an investment in a new commercial enterprise that benefits the U.S. economy and creates at least 10full-time jobs for U.S. workers.1  While direct investment is a wise choice for some foreign nationals, it can be difficult for an individual to obtain sufficient evidence to satisfy the complex EB-5 statute.

Congress soon recognized the heavy burden that the statute and regulations placed on immigrant investors.  In response to the problem, Congress established a temporary pilot program in 1993 that permitted investments through “regional centers.”2  The pilot program remains authorized today, and it reduces pressure on investors in two significant ways.

First, the pilot program allows private and governmental agencies to be certified as regional centers.3  This is helpful to investors because the regional center assumes responsibility for most of the burdensome documentcollection, recordkeeping, and economic reports that a foreign national may not be interested in managing.  Additionally, regional centers provide a way for multiple investors unknown to one another to contribute to the same enterprise, allowing for more expansive projects and potentially greater job creation.

Second, the pilot program modified the original job creation requirement.  Now, an investor may be able to qualify for a green card upon evidence that jobs will be created either directly or indirectly.4

“Direct jobs” are those that establish an employer-employee relationship between the commercial enterprise and the people it employs.  When a foreign national engages in a direct investment, only the creation of direct jobs will satisfy the 10-job rule.  In contrast, “indirect jobs” are those held by people who work outside the enterprise, including producers of materials, equipment, and services used in the business.  “Induced jobs” are a sub-category of indirect jobs, and these also count toward the employment creation requirement.  Induced jobs are those created when direct and indirect employees spend their new or increased incomes on consumer goodsand services.5

Each foreign national interested in obtaining a green card through a capital investment must decide whether to invest directly or through a regional center.  The decision is extremely important, and should be made only after careful consideration and consultation with experienced immigration and business attorneys.

1 8 USC § 1153(b)(5), INA § 203(b)(5).

2 Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriates Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 102-395, § 610 (1992).

3 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(m)(3).

4 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(m)(7).

5 Memo, Neufeld, Acting Assoc. Director, Domestic Operations, USCIS, HQ 70/6.2, AD 09-38 (Dec. 11, 2009).

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The following is the latest on Executive Action from

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

These initiatives include:

  • Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to young people who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years
  • Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, provided they pass required background checks
  • Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  • Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs
  • Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and providing an option for naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee
Important notice: These initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available.

Next steps

USCIS and other agencies and offices are responsible for implementing these initiatives as soon as possible. Some initiatives will be implemented over the next several months and some will take longer.

Over the coming months, USCIS will produce detailed explanations, instructions, regulations and forms as necessary. The brief summaries provided below offer basic information about each initiative.

While USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time, if you believe you may be eligible for one of the initiatives listed above, you can prepare by gathering documents that establish your:

  • Identity;
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
  • Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more.

Below are summaries of major planned initiatives by USCIS, including:

  • Who is eligible
  • What the initiative will do
  • When you can begin to make a request
  • How to make a request
1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
  • Current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, who meet all other DACA guidelines.
  • Allows individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA (removing the upper age restriction) provided they meet all other guidelines.
  • Requires continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.
  • Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.
  • Approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.
2. Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents
  • An undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement, is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.
  • Allows parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they:
    • Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010;
    • Are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014; and
    • Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States, pursuant to the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.

Notes: USCIS will consider each request for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement priorities include (but are not limited to) national security and public safety threats.

  • Approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.
3. Provisional waivers of unlawful presence
  • Undocumented individuals who have resided unlawfully in the United States for at least 180 days and who are:
    • The sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
    • The spouse and sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents.
  • Expands the provisional waiver program announced in 2013 by allowing the spouses, sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available. There may be instances when the qualifying relative is not the petitioner.
  • Clarifies the meaning of the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain a waiver.

Notes: Currently, only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are allowed to apply to obtain a provisional waiver if a visa is available.

  • Upon issuing of new guidelines and regulations.
4. Modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs
  • U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.
What USCIS will:

  • Work with the Department of State to develop a method to allocate immigrant visas to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are issued to eligible individuals when there is sufficient demand for such visas.
  • Work with the Department of State to modify the Visa Bulletin system to more simply and reliably make determinations of visa availability.
  • Provide clarity on adjustment portability to remove unnecessary restrictions on natural career progression and general job mobility to provide relief to workers facing lengthy adjustment delays.
  • Clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S economy.
  • Authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who:
    • Have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing; or
    • Otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.
  • Finalize a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status.
  • Work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and comment to expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students, consistent with existing law.
  • Provide clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B program, improve consistency in adjudications, and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.
  • Upon issuing necessary guidance and regulations.
5. Promote the naturalization process
  • Lawful permanent residents eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship
  • Promote citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents.
  • Allow naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee.
  • Assess potential for partial fee waivers in the next biennial fee study.
  • During 2015

Key Questions and Answers

Q1: When will USCIS begin accepting applications related to these executive initiatives?

A1: While USCIS is not accepting applications at this time, individuals who think they may be eligible for one or more of the new initiatives may prepare now by gathering documentation that establishes their:

  • Identity;
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
  • Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more.

USCIS expects to begin accepting applications for the:

  • Expanded DACA program approximately 90 days after the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement; and
  • Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) approximately 180 days after the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

Others programs will be implemented after new guidance and regulations are issued.

Q2: How many individuals does USCIS expect will apply?

A2: Preliminary estimates show that roughly 4.9 million individuals may be eligible for the initiatives announced by the President. However, there is no way to predict with certainty how many individuals will apply. USCIS will decide applications on a case-by-case basis and encourages as many people as possible to consider these new initiatives. During the first two years of DACA, approximately 60 percent of potentially eligible individuals came forward. However, given differences among the population eligible for these initiatives and DACA, actual participation rates may vary.

Q3: Will there be a cutoff date for individuals to apply?

A3: The initiatives do not include deadlines. Nevertheless, USCIS encourages all eligible individuals to carefully review each initiative and, once the initiative becomes available, make a decision as soon as possible about whether to apply.

Q4: How long will applicants have to wait for a decision on their application?

A4: The timeframe for completing this new pending workload depends on a variety of factors. USCIS will be working to process applications as expeditiously as possible while maintaining program integrity and customer service. Our aim is to complete all applications received by the end of next year before the end of 2016, consistent with our target processing time of completing review of applications within approximately one year of receipt. In addition, USCIS will provide each applicant with notification of receipt of their application within 60 days of receiving it.

Q5: Will USCIS need to expand its workforce and/or seek appropriated funds to implement these new initiatives? 

A5: USCIS will need to adjust its staffing to sufficiently address this new workload. Any hiring will be funded through application fees rather than appropriated funds.

Q6: Will the processing of other applications and petitions (such as family-based petitions and green card applications) be delayed?

A6: USCIS is working hard to build capacity and increase staffing to begin accepting requests and applications for the initiatives. We will monitor resources and capacity very closely, and we will keep the public and all of our stakeholders informed as this process develops over the course of the coming months.

Q7: What security checks and anti-fraud efforts will USCIS conduct to identify individuals requesting deferred action who have criminal backgrounds or who otherwise pose a public safety threat or national security risk?

A7: USCIS is committed to maintaining the security and integrity of the immigration system. Individuals seeking deferred action relief under these new initiatives will undergo thorough background checks, including but not limited to 10-print fingerprint, primary name, and alias name checks against databases maintained by DHS and other federal government agencies. These checks are designed to identify individuals who may pose a national security or public safety threat, have a criminal background, have perpetrated fraud, or who may be otherwise ineligible to request deferred action. No individual will be granted relief without passing these background checks.

In addition, USCIS will conduct an individual review of each case. USCIS officers are trained to identify indicators of fraud, including fraudulent documents. As with other immigration requests, all applicants will be warned that knowingly misrepresenting or failing to disclose facts will subject them to criminal prosecution and possible removal from the United States.

Q8: What if someone’s case is denied or they fail to pass a background check?

A8: Individuals who knowingly make a misrepresentation, or knowingly fail to disclose facts, in an effort to obtain deferred action or work authorization through this process will not receive favorable consideration for deferred action. In addition, USCIS will apply its current policy governing the referral of individual cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the issuance of Notices to Appear before an immigration judge. If the background check or other information uncovered during the review of a request for deferred action indicates that an individual’s presence in the United States threatens public safety or national security, USCIS will deny the request and refer the matter for criminal investigation and possible removal by ICE, consistent with existing processes.

Q9: If I currently have DACA, will I need to do anything to receive the third year of deferred action and work authorization provided by the executive initiatives?

A9: The new three-year work authorization timeframe will be applied for applications currently pending and those received after the President’s announcement. Work authorizations already issued for a two-year period under the current guidelines will continue to be valid through the validity period indicated on the card. USCIS is exploring means to extend previously issued two-year work authorization renewals to the new three-year period.

Q10: Will the information I share in my request for consideration of deferred action be used for immigration enforcement purposes?

A10: Information provided in your request is protected from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless you meet the criteria for the issuance of a Notice to Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’ Notice to Appear guidance. Individuals who are granted deferred action will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

  • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request;
  • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims;
  • For national security purposes; or
  • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.

This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

Q11: What is USCIS doing to assist dependents of U.S. armed services personnel?

A11: USCIS is working with the Department of Defense to determine how to expand parole authorization to dependents of certain individuals enlisting or enlisted in the U.S. armed services.

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