Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

    L1-A Managers, Execs & Specialists

    Overview of a Management Position

    “To qualify as a manager under the current definition, the non-immigrant may also be involved in the high-level management of an essential function as well as supervising the work of other supervisory, managerial, or professional employees.”

    Another definition of managerial capacity would be: –

    “An assignment [the position on offer] in which the employee primarily directs the organization; supervises the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or a department or subdivision of the organization; has the authority to take or recommend such personnel actions as hiring, firing, and promotion; exercises discretionary authority over the day-to-day operation; and does not include first-line supervision unless the supervised personnel are professionals.”

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    Here we can see more clearly that the position of manager must be substantive. In other words, it is not sufficient to hold the title of manager but the primary role of the beneficiary must be to manage others as opposed to doing the bulk of the day-to-day work themselves. Indeed, it appears that the manager’s staff must carry the essential functions of the business.

    For example: A Physician who incorporates and then wishes to open up a branch in the US will not be recognized as a manager for L status, simply because he hires subordinate administrative staff in his practice. Here, even though the doctor has subordinate staff, it is the doctor himself who would be carrying out the core day-to-day function of the business, i.e., to treat patients.

    Can a Sole Employee of a US Branch Qualify for L1 Status?

    There is case law to support granting of L1 petition for a company that will have only one employee.  In this case, (Matter of X, 16 Immig. Rptr. B2-84 (AAO Feb. 29, 1996)) the beneficiary applied on the basis that he was to be the only employee and would be president of the company, and that he would hire subcontractors as his work force. Petitions have also been approved where the beneficiary, as president, only employed one other person, (Matter of X, 10 Immig. Rptr. B2-13 (AA0 Apr.13.1992)). Both these cases were approved on appeal, and have now become case law for us to rely on in the future.

    Overview of an Executive Position

    “[An] executive directs the management of the organization or a major function or component of the organization, establish policies and goals of the organization, and [has] wide latitude in discretionary decision-making.”

    It would be fair to say that the duties of an executive and of a manager overlap considerably. However, executives are generally more involved with the goal setting and direction of the company and are accountable to shareholders and the board of directors (if applicable). In contrast, management functions are more geared to the implementation and execution of executive goals.

    Overview of a “Specialized Knowledge” Specialist Position

    Section 214 (2) (B)

    “An alien is considered to be serving in a capacity involving specialized knowledge with respect to a company if the alien has special knowledge of the company’s product and its application in international markets or has an advanced level knowledge of the processes and procedures of the company.”

    In order to qualify as an L1 beneficiary under the category of a company specialist the petitioner must demonstrate that the beneficiary has an advanced level of knowledge of the company’s products and procedures that are simply not readily available in the US labor market. It is not enough to have a general knowledge or expertise / skill that enables the beneficiary to do the job.

    The purpose of introducing this category was to facilitate foreign companies locating to the United States that might find it difficult to hire local US personnel who might not be familiar with the practices of the company. Those employees of the foreign company who had such specialized knowledge were allowed to become beneficiaries under the L visa program.

    However, it must be pointed out that where a company is well established in the US it will become more difficult to relocate staff form overseas under the specialized category if those skills are not particularly unique, advanced or highly specialized.

    USCIS makes a useful distinction between those would-be beneficiaries whose skill would enable them to produce a particular product or function as compared with beneficiaries who would be employed primarily for their ability to carry out an almost unique function that is key or essential to the company’s operation. Only the latter beneficiaries would qualify for L1-B status.

    Key Attributes in Identifying Whether a Beneficiary has Specialized Knowledge:

    The beneficiary possesses knowledge that is valuable to the employer’s competitiveness.

    The beneficiary is uniquely qualified to contribute to the US employer’s knowledge of foreign operating conditions.

    The beneficiary has been utilized as a key employee abroad and has been given significant assignments, which have enhanced the employer’s productivity and competitiveness, image or financial position.

    Possesses knowledge that has been gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.

    As can be seen that bar has been set so high that the beneficiary’s particular expertise is almost vital to the success or proper functioning of the company.

    Employment in Home Country vs. Employment in the US

    It is quite acceptable for a specialist in the home country to be transferred to the US to take up a managerial or executive position. In other words, as long as the beneficiary has at least one year’s experience with the petitioning company is any one of the senior qualifying positions they can be transferred successfully.

    Is the Beneficiary Qualified for the US Job?

    It is very important to demonstrate with documentary evidence that shows how the beneficiary’s education, training and experience would actually qualify them for the job on offer in the US.  Creating a job description of the US position and then drafting a statement showing how the beneficiary’s education, training and experience qualify them for the position could do this.

    For new start-up offices, this will still be important since the beneficiary must be able to demonstrate that they have the education, training and experience to successfully set up the office and have created a senior role for themselves within the one year initial qualifying period.

    Blanket Petitions

    Where an employer has three or more overseas branches (outside of the US), the employer may apply for a blanket petition. In this case the employer may transfer a senior employee who has only served six months in a senior management, executive or specialist position.


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    Select Your Chapters Here

    1 – Managers, Executives & Specialists
    2 – The One Year Within Last Three Rule
    3 – Start Up or Existing US Branch
    4 – Temporary Intent vs. Dual Intent Rule
    5 – Duration of L Visas
    6 – Petitions Denied, Revoked or Withdrawn
    7 – Continuing to do Business in Home Country
    8 – Parent, Branch, Subsidiary and Affiliate
    9 – Employment vs. Source of Paycheck
    10 – Full-time/Part-time L1
    11 – Managerial, Executive or Specialist Duties
    12 – Working While Awaiting Renewal of L Status
    13 – Spouse of L Visa Holder’s Right to Work
    14 – Summary

    Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

    Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

    US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
    Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
    Admitted in New York.
    Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
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    Santa Monica,
    California 90401
    Tel: 310 496 4292

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    Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.

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