An L-1 visa is an excellent option for foreign nationals that work as managers, executives, or specialized workers to be transferred to work abroad in a US office. In this article, you will discover what you need to know about the L-1 visa processing time and interview.
L-1 Visa – Explaining the Concept
The L-1 visa is obtained to transfer personnel or even the owners of the company themselves from a company outside of the United States to a company inside of the United States.
In this sense, the company outside of the United States can be from any country, as there is no limitation as to which the company outside of the country is based out.
However, the L-1 visa requires that the two companies must be related, meaning that they need to be part of the same corporate group, which includes being an affiliate company, a subsidiary company, or being the same company.
The company must have a presence inside and outside of the United States. Then, to receive an L-1 visa, the applicant must have worked at least one continuous year during the last three years at the company outside of the United States.
Plus, the applicant’s position in the company outside of the country needs to be that of a manager or an executive with the company outside of the country.
Foreign workers eligible for an L-1 visa can be granted either an L-1A or an L-1B visa, with the L-1A being granted to managers/executives and the L-1B being granted to employees with specialized knowledge.
What Is the Period Allowed for L-1 Applicants To Stay/Remain in the United States?
Once the petition of an L-1 applicant is approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the period granted for applicants to stay in the United States depends on the company’s status.
If the company is already established in the United States, the USCIS may approve the initial petition for 3 years. In case it is a new office in the country, the USCIS may approve the petition for one year only.
For employees under L-1A status, the visa can be extended by two-year increments for up to 7 years. On the other hand, for employees under L-1B status, the visa can be extended by two-year increments for up to 5 years.
L-1 Visa Interview – What To Expect When Applying for an L-1 Visa?
Applicants must go through an interview process before gaining entry to the United States under L-1 status. By the time the applicant attends the interview, the responsible official should have already confirmed the approval of the underlying petition via PIMS (Petition Information Management System).
It is worth noting that the USCIS approval of the L-1 petition is considered sufficient evidence that the applicant has met the requirements.
In the interview, the official will be responsible for confirming the petition approval in the PIMS after confirming the accuracy of the information in the petition and ensuring that the applicant is eligible for the L-1 category.
Typically, the questions asked during the interview revolve around the applicant’s professional career held abroad and the position he/she will occupy in the United States.
The most common red flags raised during an interview include an unlawful presence on American soil before the application, past visa denials, or criminal violations.
L-1 Visa Interview – What Are the Most Common Questions Asked During the Interview?
Usually, L-1 interviews tend to last 5 minutes. In many cases, the official examining a petition will ask no more than 3 or 4 questions, especially in cases where is the evidence provided in the petition is utterly clear.
Notice that the L-1 interview can be longer if the official examining the petition has doubts or further questions about the application, meaning it is extremely important to present a thorough and clear application to USCIS.
The most common questions asked during an L-1 interview include:
- Have you ever been employed in the United States before?
- Do you have any experience working in foreign countries?
- Have you visited the United States before?
- Where are you currently working?
- What is your professional experience?
- What are the roles and responsibilities associated with your current position?
- Where will you work in the United States?
- What will be your job responsibilities?
- Why can’t the work be from your home country?