According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an L-1 beneficiary (employee for whom the application is filed by the sponsoring company) has to be employed outside the US by the company for one continuous year, within three years before the visa application is filed.
However, there is some flexibility in sight for employees already on the rolls of the sponsoring company on an H-1B visa, as they will be able to make adjustments in the time requirement. The new L-1 policy clarifies that eligibility criteria will need to be fulfilled at the time of filing. This may result in employers having to delay their application for L-1 visas till the one year condition is met.
While the L-1A visa is for intra-company transferees who work in managerial or executive positions in a company located outside the US, the L-1B visa is for those who work in positions requiring specialised knowledge. Among the companies that submit maximum applications for L1 visas are, TCS, Infosys and Tech Mahindra.
It has also been clarified that the employees who are already working for the L-1 sponsoring company in the US, in another status, such as H-1B, are allowed to fulfil the criteria within three years prior to entering the US, instead of three years prior to filing for the L1-visa.
However, if the beneficiary happens to have entered the US on any other kind of visa— say a derivative spouse visa or a student visa—such adjustment benefit will be unavailable.
While short visits to the US do not affect the continuous year of employment abroad, such trips will add to the one-year clock, and result in extension of the time to be spent in the stint abroad. Therefore, the L-1 sponsoring employer will have to keep a record of its employee’s short trips to the US during employment abroad, too.