Timeline

L-Visa Timeline

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Your company wishes to transfer to the United States a manager or executive or ‘specialized knowledge’ worker that is currently working abroad for a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary and the foreign worker requires a work visa.

What is the Timeline to Apply for and Obtain an L-1 Visa?

The issuance of an L-1 visa requires processing by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and United States embassy or consulate. The USCIS and United States embassy or consulate processing times can vary depending upon where the petitioner (in the United States) and the foreign worker (foreign country) are located and the type of processing requested. In general, however, the typical timeline for L-1 visa processing is as follows:

  1. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Processing

    The L-1 petition is filed with the USCIS. The USCIS issues a receipt notice to the petitioner (U.S. company) and attorney. Since each L-1 petition differs in terms of complexity, the decision time can vary. Once approved, the USCIS issues an approval notice to the petitioner and attorney. The approved L-1 petition is then forwarded to the designated United States embassy or consulate for the second step in the process.

    Receipt Notice Issued: 2 Weeks from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    Approval Notice Issued: 3-6 Months from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    Total Time to Process: 3-6 Months from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    *The L-1 petition may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

    **Pursuant to the North American Free Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian citizens can file the L-1 petition at a Class ‘A’ land port of entry or United States pre-clearance station at an airport in Canada. The decision is rendered the same day.

    USCIS Change of Status Processing

    Assuming that the foreign worker had previously entered the United States legally pursuant to a valid nonimmigrant visa; that the L-1 petition was filed and approved prior to the foreign worker’s expiration of stay in the United States; and that the foreign worker did not depart the United States during the approval process, s/he may begin employment upon issuance of the approval notice. If the foreign worker then leaves the United States after beginning employment s/he must follow the United States Embassy or Consulate visa procedure below before s/he can reenter the United States.

    Receipt Notice Issued: 2 Weeks from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    Approval Notice Issued: 3-6 Months from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    Total Time to Process: 3-6 Months from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    *The L-1 petition may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

    USCIS Extension of Status Processing

    Assuming that the foreign worker had previously been issued an L-1 visa; that the new L-1 petition was filed prior to the expiration of the current L-1 visa, and that the position offered is the same or similar to the previous position, s/he may begin employment upon filing of the L-1 petition. If the foreign worker then leaves the United States after beginning employment and after approval of the L-1 petition, s/he must follow the United States Embassy or Consulate visa procedure below before s/he can reenter the United States.

    Receipt Notice Issued: 2 Weeks from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    Approval Notice Issued: 3-6 Months from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    Total Time to Process: 3-6 Months from Date of Receipt of L-1 Petition

    *The L-1 petition may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

  2. United States Embassy or Consulate Processing

    Assuming that the foreign worker is outside the United States at the time of approval of the L-1 petition by the USCIS, s/he will proceed to the United States embassy or consulate in their native country with the original approval notice, complete copy of the L-1 petition that was filed with the USCIS, a valid passport and confirmation of completion of form DS-160 and payment of the visa fee L-1 (and L-2) visa fees.

    At the interview, the consular officer will verify that all required documentation has been provided. Second, and more importantly, the consular officer may question the foreign worker in detail with respect to the specifics of the position and the U.S. company.

    If the consular officer is satisfied, the L-1 visa is approved and placed in the foreign worker’s passport. At that time, the United States embassy or consulate will also approve any L-2 visa application and place L-2 visa(s) in the foreign worker’s spouse and/or minor child(ren)’s passport(s).

    Interview Scheduled: Dependent on individual United States Embassy or Consulate schedule

    Visa Issued: 7-10 Days from Date of Interview

    Total Time to Process: Dependent on individual United States Embassy or Consulate schedule

  3. Entering the United States

    Upon issuance of the L-1 and L-2 visas, the foreign worker, spouse and any child(ren) may enter the United States.

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