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 may 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
- 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.
What Are Some L-1 Visa Interview Questions?
Here are some sample L-1 visa interview questions categorized based on subject matter:
- Have you been to the U.S. before? When?
- 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?
- Do you have people working underneath you? If so, how many?
Questions about your work in the U.S.:
- What will you be doing in the branch/subsidiary/affiliate?
- What will your exact responsibilities be?
- Where will you live during your stay?
- 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?
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.
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.
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 SGM Law Group, 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.