A Korean company which has a subsidiary in the U.S. may transfer its employees from Korea to the U.S. through the L-1 visa.? The L visa category offers great advantages for transferring employees, and if all conditions are met, L-1 visa holders may apply for the permanent residence under the employment-based first preference category. Another advantage is the L-1 visa allows a long stay in the U.S. which consists of 5 to 7 years like H visas, while being permitted to work. Accompanying family may be granted L-2 status and the spouse may receive work authorization. To qualify for the L-1 visa, the company and the transferring employees must fulfill the following conditions stipulated in immigration law.


To qualify for L-1 visa status, a parent company in Korea owns at least 50% of the U.S. subsidiary so that there must be a corporate relationship between them. To apply for an L-1 visa, there must be qualifying relationships between a parent company and its subsidiary. There are other factors that determine the existence of a corporate relationship including common name usage, exchange of personnel, sharing of technical, financial, research skills and so forth. The entity applying for L-1 visa status may include religious groups and non-profit organizations.


The transferees qualified for L-1 visa status are managers, executives, and employees who possess specialized knowledge. Managers are those that direct the U.S. entity, supervise other employees, or exercise discretion over the daily business. Executives are those that direct the management or function of the entity, and establish goals and policies for the entity. Employees with specialized knowledge are persons who possess specialized knowledge of the company’s products and service, company’s application to international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge of the operations of the company.


The applicant for an L-1 visa must have been employed by the parent, affiliate, or subsidiary company for at least 12 months during the three year period prior to filing the application. One-year period means a continuous employment without interruption, and it must be a full-time employment.


Initial L-1 visas may be granted for up to a three-year period, and extensions may be granted after expiration of the first three year period. Managers and executives may stay in the U.S. up to a total of seven years through a four-year extension. Employees with specialized knowledge may stay in the U.S. up to a total of five years through a two-year of extension.