L Visa Classification for Multinational Executives and Managers and Individuals with Specialized Knowledge
An individual falls into the L-1A category if they are a multinational executive or manager, who was employed abroad for a period of one continuous year within the last three years by a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. Company they are seeking to transfer temporarily to. The individual must be seeking to come to the United States to perform duties at an executive or managerial level.
Executive capacity is defined as:
assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily: (1) Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization; (2) Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function; (3) Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and (4) Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization. 8 CFR §214.2 (l)(1)(ii)(C).
Managerial capacity is defined as:
assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily: (1) Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization; (2) Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization; (3) Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if another employee or other employees are directly supervised; if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and (4) Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional. 8 CFR §214.2 (l)(1)(ii)(B).
It is important that either the managerial or executive level that the employee not be involved in the actual operational activities of the company. Thus, these individuals should avoid producing the product the company sells. They are there to implement a managerial or executive vision for the company. As the Administrative Appeals Office has recognized favorably:
[t]he [individual should not] be performing the day-to-day ministerial functions [of the company] … but rather developing plans for his subordinate to carry out … . In re X, SRC 90 156 00380, 1992 Immig. Rptr. LEXIS 1136, *7 (A.A.U., 1992).
It should also be noted that:
A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in amanagerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless theemployees supervised are professional. 8 CFR §214.2 (l)(1)(ii)(B)(4); See also In re X , LIN 95 042 51662, 1995 Immig. Rptr. LEXIS 1412, *3 (A.A.U. 1995); In re X, EAC 91 015 50419, 1991 Immig. Rptr. LEXIS 623, *6 (A.A.U. 1991) (
Supervisors who plan, schedule, and supervise the day-to-day work of nonprofessional employees are not employed in a managerial or executive capacity.) [emphasis supplied].
Those admitted in L-1B status are must possess specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge is defined as:
special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. 8 C.F.R. §214.2 (l)(1)(ii)(D). USCIS will look beyond simple job tasks to see whether the individual is valued for their knowledge as opposed to filling a void in the U.S. organization.
[S]pecialized knowledge relate[s] to the proprietary interests of the business, its management and concerned skills or knowledge not readily availablein the job market. Matter of Colley, et al., 18 I. & N. Dec. 117 (Comm. 1981). However, despite this apparent emphasis on the lack of knowledge in the labor market, the emphasis is on the knowledge and not the lack of workers. It is important to remember that the specialized knowledge category is not intended to address labor shortages. Thus, in Matter of Colley,
[the] Commissioner authorized L-1 classification to five alien beneficiaries who possessed knowledge of the uniquely complex equipment equipment and the particular techniques used by the petitioner in map surveys and which were proprietary proprietary to the petitioner. Matter of Penner, 1982 BIA LEXIS at *9, 18 I. & N. Dec. at 53 H-2B visas and permanent residence petitions are intended to address such needs.