The L1 visa is a temporary work visa for employees who are transferred from an office overseas to an office of the same company in the United States. L1 visas allow companies to transfer highly skilled employees to the US to manage or start its division in the US. Employers must apply for L1 visa on behalf of the foreign employee by submitting an L1 visa petition to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

L1 Visa Application Process

The L1 visa process begins with an application for L1 visa by the employer. The complete process of applying for L1 visa is outlined below.

  • Complete and submit a non-immigrant visa application Form DS-160 to the State Department online. Submit the following along with the application:
    • Two current and identical passport sized photographs. The photograph must be clear and must show your full face.
    • A copy of your US passport, valid for 6 months beyond your intended visit.
  • The employer/company must file a Form I-129, L-1 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee. It should be filed at least 45 days before the employees start date and cannot be filed more than six months before employment begins.
  • Submit the supporting documents evidencing that both the US company and the parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office abroad are lawful.
  • Submit supporting documentation establishing applicant’s eligibility for the non-immigrant visa.
  • The L1 petitioning employer should submit the applicable fee.
  • Submit a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing approval of Form I-129 given by the USCIS to apply for visa issuance at a US consulate or embassy.

Read the list of Required L1 Visa Documents for more details.

L1 Visa Fees

The following L1 visa application fees may apply.

  • The required fee for filing L1 visa petition is USD 325.
  • As of August 2010, a change in federal law now requires an additional fee of USD 2,250 from petitioners who employ more than 50 workers in the US and have a staff of which more than half have L-1 visa status.
  • As of December 2012, the fee also includes an anti-fraud fee of USD 500.
  • There is also an optional USD 1,225 fee for premium processing.

Fees are paid by the employer to the USCIS. They can be paid by check or money order and must accompany the form.

L1 Visa Processing Time

The L1 visa process may take 1 to 5 months.

Premium Processing

USCIS has a program called premium processing, which expedites the processing time of the L1 visa petition. Under this program, the petition will be processed in 15 days.

The petitioner must complete Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, along with Form I-129, Petition for a nonimmigrant Worker. The fee must be submitted in a separate check or money order.

The USCIS also accepts credit card, debit card, and electronic fund transfers from a US bank.

Learn more about the US Visa Application Process.