L-1A Visa: Managers and Executives

L-1A visa category is for managerial or executive position.

The legal definition of manager and executive role must be strictly followed and a detailed description of duties must be enclosed along with the petition. An executive or managerial capacity requires a certain level of authority and an appropriate mix of job duties. Managers and executives plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's major functions and work through other employees to achieve the organization's goals.

An executive or manager may manage or direct a function within an organization. However, individuals who primarily perform the tasks necessary to produce the product(s) or provide the service(s) of an organization are not employed in an executive or managerial capacity but they should be viewed as a staff officer or specialist. The majority of his/her duties should be related to operational or policy management, not to the supervision of lower level employees, performance of the duties of another type of position, or other involvement in the operational activities of the company, such as doing sales work, operating machines, writing computer programming code or supervising those that do.

However, the person is not barred from applying his professional/technical expertise to solve a particular problem. It is not enough to have just the title of the position that indicates manager/executive position, duties also should be accordingly performed. Supervisors who plan, schedule and supervise the day-to-day work of nonprofessional employees are not employed in an executive or managerial capacity, even though they may be referred to as manager in their particular organization.

If a small or medium-sized business can support a position where the primary duties are executive or managerial, they can qualify for L-1A. However, merely having the title of a position or ownership of the business are not indicators of managerial or executive capacity on its own. E.g., a physician may start a new corporation for practice and may hire a receptionist, bookkeeper, and a nurse to help him/her in that medical practice. However, such physician is not a manager or executive for L-1A visa purposes. He/she primarily practices his/her professional skills as a physician.

The initial petition will be approved for 3 years (new office petition for 1 year), and can be renewed twice for 2 years each for a total of 7 years.

Managers
Managerial capacity means an 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 a virtue of the supervisor's supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.
Executives
Executive capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
  1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component of 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.
Executive capacity generally refers to the employee's ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. While an executive may manage a function within an organization, it should not be directly performed by an executive. If the function itself is performed by the intended executive, the position should be viewed as a staff officer or specialist, not as an executive. Generally executives would not have subordinate staff, except for personal staff. Generally, if the person controls and performs a function within an organization, but don't have subordinate staff except for a personal staff, classification in a specialized knowledge capacity is more appropriate.

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