U.S. Law Center

The role of the L-1B nonimmigrant work visa

When a multinational company wants to relocate one of their foreign employees to a worksite here in California, one option the US Citizenship and Immigration Services offers is the L-1B Visa. This temporary work visa allows the company to transfer an employee who has advanced or specialized knowledge of the company’s products, services, policies or procedures in the foreign market to the U.S. to enhance the business and help it thrive in the global marketplace.

The goal of the petition is to convince the adjudicator who is reviewing the application that transferring the employee is the most cost-effective and beneficial way to develop or improve the company’s U.S. operations. Many corporations find that the guidelines for this application can be problematic because of vague wording and unclear documentation requirements. To rectify this problem, a recent USCIS policy memorandum amends the way adjudicators evaluate the qualifications of the employee. The petitioner must be able to establish that the following statements are true:


  • The position at the U.S. worksite requires the specialized knowledge of the employee

  • The employee has one to three consecutive years filling a role within the company that involves the use of the specialized knowledge

  • Assignments fulfilled by the employee at the foreign worksite have been beneficial to the company

  • Training an employee rather than transferring one would not be cost effective


When determining which documents to include with the application for an L-1B Visa, payroll records are among the most essential. Other documentation that may be used to prove the complex nature of the employee’s expertise includes patents, trademarks or licenses, as well as contracts and training curricula.

Due to the complex nature of the application and the increases in denials and costly delays over the past few years, many companies seek legal advice before submitting a petition.

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