For multinational companies that have business ties to the U.S., there is no better visa to get your employees overseas than the L-1 visa. With a host of advantages, it’s no wonder why the L-1 is one of the first choices for those who qualify. However, many people overlook the fact that they will need to go through an L-1 visa interview if they are not already in the U.S.
L-1 Visa Process
The L-1 visa is reserved for the employees of multinational companies that have a branch, subsidiary, office, or affiliate in the U.S. This visa allows certain employees to be transferred to the U.S. branch in order to work. The qualified employees are:
- L-1A visa: executives and managers. As an executive, you must be able to make far-reaching decisions for the company without substantial supervision. As a manager, you must be in control of the daily tasks of a group of employees.
- L-1B visa: employees with specialized knowledge. This means that you must possess knowledge that is not only vital to your field but also vital to the operation of your particular company.
Eligible employees must have been working for the company for at least one full year in the three years prior to the date of filing the petition.
Fortunately, these are the only main requirements. You do not need to have extraordinary achievements or possess a certain amount of education in order to qualify. However, there are some strict limitations to the L-1 visa.
- You can only work for the employer that sponsored you during your stay.
- Your stay is limited to a maximum of 5 years with the L-1B and 7 years with the L-1A. There is no possibility to extend your stay past these maximums.
To get an L-1 visa, you need to have your employer file an I-129 petition on your behalf with the USCIS along with the evidence required to prove that you are eligible for the visa. If your petition is approved and you are already inside the U.S., then your status will automatically change to L-1 status. However, there are many situations in which visa beneficiaries are not in the U.S. before petitioning.
How Does That Change If I’m Outside the U.S.?
If you are currently in your home country or otherwise outside the U.S., you will need to go through consular processing in order to obtain your L-1 visa. This involves the following:
- Making an appointment with the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country once your petition has been approved.
- Traveling to the appointment after completing a DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application. Be sure to bring a copy of the confirmation with you to the appointment.
- Going through the L-1 visa interview with a consular officer.
As with most interviews, many people want to know what to expect at their L-1 visa interview. Keep reading to find out what kind of experience you can account for, questions you may be asked, and documents that you will be required to bring.
What Can I Expect for My L-1 Visa Interview Experience?
You will need to arrive at least 15 minutes early to your interview so that you are able to make it through the line before your L-1 visa interview begins. Once you have checked in, you can expect to wait in the waiting room before your interview as consulates are often behind on their scheduled interviews.
When your name is called, you will enter the office of an immigration officer and be interviewed based on your knowledge of your company and your role in its inner workings. Remember, the officer’s goal is not to disqualify you, but rather to make sure that you meet all the requirements and that your story checks out.
If the officer is pleased with the results of your L-1 visa interview, then you will be approved for your L-1 visa to work in the U.S.
Some companies that use this visa often offer mock L-1 visa interviews in order to help their employees excel in the real interview. If this is the case for your company, be sure that you take full advantage of this.
What Documents Will I Need for My Interview?
When you travel to the U.S. consulate or embassy for your L-1 visa interview, be sure to bring the following documents so that your trip isn’t wasted:
- Your L-1 visa interview appointment letter
- As previously stated, the confirmation page of your DS-160 application.
- A receipt for the DS-160 fee
- A valid passport that will not expire for at least six months after your L-1 visa interview
- Any old passports you may have.
- Your resume or CV
- A copy of the letter from your employer to the consulate that requests an L-1 visa interview
- A copy of your L-1 petition
- Two pictures of you. Take a look at these consulate photo guidelines.
- A copy of I-797 Form, Notice of Action
- Your CV
- Income tax records
- Bank statements from the past six months
- A description of your job duties in an executive or managerial role
- Proof that you have a qualifying employment relationship with the petitioning organization
- Proof that you have at least 12 months of continuous employment with the organization
- Proof that you possess the required professional experience and qualifications to perform the role in the United States
- Letters from your previous employers attesting to your professional work experience for the role
What Are Some L-1 Visa Interview Questions?
The L-1 visa interview questions will primarily be about you, your qualifications, your experience, as well as your current employer and the organization where you will work in the United States. To help you know what to expect at the interview, we will break the questions into different categories:
- General L-1 questions
- Questions about your current job
- Questions about your proposed job in the U.S.
- L-1A-specific questions
- L-1B-specific questions.
Here are some samples of L-1 visa interview questions categorized based on the subject matter:
- Which visa are you applying for?
- Have you been to the U.S. before? When?
- When did you return home?
- When was the last time you traveled to the U.S.?
- Can I see your passport and papers?
- Can I see your petition letter?
- Can I see your visa fee receipt?
Questions About Your Current Job:
The questions here will focus on your current employment, the role you currently occupy, as well as your past work experience for previous employers. Examples of these questions are:
- Which company do you work for?
- How much do you make as a salary?
- What is your job within the company?
- Who are your customers/clients?
- How long have you worked for this company?
- Where did you work before working for this company?
- Did you go through a training program?
- What kind of training did you receive?
- What is your total work experience?
- Do you have people working underneath you? If so, how many?
- How many people report to you?
- How many of those who report to you are in the United States versus outside the United States?
Questions About Your Proposed Work in the U.S.
The main focus of your L-1 visa application will be on the role you want to perform in the United States. The consular officer will want to know if you possess the required qualifications and experience to assume that role in the United States. They will also want to know if the role could be just as easily filled by a U.S. worker. The onus is on you to prove that it is in the best interest of the organization if the position is occupied by you rather than a U.S. citizen or green card holder. So, you can expect questions such as:
- What is the name of the organization where you will work in the U.S.?
- What kind of organization is it?
- What will you be doing in the branch/subsidiary/affiliate?
- What will your exact responsibilities be?
- Where will you live during your stay?
- What will your salary be in the United States?
- How will your salary be paid?
- Why is being in the U.S. necessary? Can this work be completed from your home country?
- How long will your stay be?
- If your employment is terminated in the U.S., what is your plan?
- How much will your salary be in the U.S.?
- Where will you work? Which city?
- Who will you manage?
- Who will manage you?
L-1A-Specific Interview Questions
For an L-1A visa applicant, the questions will majorly base on your managerial skills. The interviewer will want to establish that you have the expertise and the authority to perform the proposed role in your application. The questions can be as follows:
- What kind of budgetary authority do you have?
- Do you have the authority to hire and fire?
- When was the last time you hired an employee?
- When was the last time you fired an employee?
- What happens if you need to fire an employee? (this question may be asked to determine if you truly know the process involved in firing an employee in your organization).
- What is the process in your organization to hire and fire an associate?
- How many people will directly report to you?
- Will you have a say in the organization’s large-scale decisions and policies?
L-1B-Specific Interview Questions
The L-1B visa is for professionals who possess specialized knowledge. The interviewer will expect you to prove you have in-depth knowledge of your specific specialization in the field. In many cases, your interviewer will also be someone with extensive domain knowledge of your area of specialization. So, you will need to be very thorough and convincing when answering the questions. You can expect questions such as:
- What is your area of specialization?
- What special skill do you possess for this job?
- What do you think makes this skill special?
- How long have you been working in this specialized field?
- Why is it important for you to travel to the U.S. for this work?
- Is there any reason why a U.S. citizen could not perform this work?
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of questions that will be asked. If you would like to have a better idea of what someone in your position will be asked at the L-1 visa interview, be sure to consult with your immigration attorney.
L-1 Visa Interview Tips
- Prepare well for the interview before the scheduled date. Go through those common L-1 visa interview questions and practice your answers for them.
- Gather all the required documents for the interview and double-check to be sure everything is intact.
- If your organization offers mock visa interviews, ensure that you participate in them to familiarize yourself with what to expect at your real interview.
- On the day of the interview, arrive at the location 15 to 30 minutes in advance.
- Do not get distracted or discouraged by what happens to other applicants before you. Focus on yourself and be positive.
- The important thing to remember in your L-1 visa interview is to be calm and stick to the truth. Lying on any one of these questions will trigger stress responses that the consular officers are trained to detect.
- You may also get your information confused and raise the suspicion of the officer. Remember, saying “I don’t know” is better than lying in these cases.
- Dress nicely, arrive early, and speak clearly and confidently throughout the L-1 visa interview.
- Make sure that you walk in with a good base of knowledge about your company and how it works.
- If you specialize in a technical aspect of your company, be prepared to put it into layman’s terms for the officer, using jargon or technical terms will not help you here.
- Don’t rush when answering questions. Ensure that your answers are easy to understand and talk at your own pace.
- Do not give more details than necessary.
- If you don’t understand a question well enough, you can ask the officer to rephrase it.
- Do not be tense. Focus on being confident and relaxed.
- Maintain appropriate eye contact when talking to the consular officer.
- Ensure you speak directly into the microphone. Otherwise, the interviewer might have difficulty hearing you.
- Maintain a relaxed body language.
- When the interview is over, thank the consular officer.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
When you’re going through a legal process as complex as immigration, it can be easy to make a mistake that will cost you time, money, and maybe even visa approval. To be sure that you are making all the right decisions, it is important that you hire an immigration attorney.
At our firm, our lawyers are experts in all kinds of work visas. With the L-1 as one of their specialties, you can be sure that your case is in good hands if you retain our services. Our promise is to go above and beyond to help you through each step of your visa process, including your L-1 visa interview.
To contact us, feel free to fill out the contact form on our website. From there, we can schedule your consultation as soon as possible.