L1 One-year Foreign Employment Requirement
USCIS has published a policy memorandum for employing L-1 worker outside USA for one continuous year out of the 3 years before the time of filing L1 visa.
Spend 1 year Outside USA as full-time employee
The L-1 employee must be physically outside the United States during the required one continuous year of full-time employment.
Short Business trips cannot be counted for 1 year
Any short trips to the USA for business (B1 visa) or pleasure (B2 Visa) cannot be counted in this 1 year (365 days) period even if the L1 employee was still on employer’s payroll while visiting USA.
If the employer hired employee on Jan 1, 2018, and then employee traveled to US in 2018 for a total of 60 days (could be multiple trips) on business during 2018, the L-1 applicant would need to spend at least an additional 60 days outside USA after Jan 1, 2019 to qualify for L1 visa.
1 year work should be in Managerial role
The L1 employee should have been working for 1 year in the managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge role.
One year of foreign employment must occur within the 3-year period preceding the L-1 petition filing date
USCIS will calculate the 3-year period during which the L1 worker must meet the one-year foreign employment requirement. Examples given below.
The changes are being made following the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order by Trump administration and make L1 visas stricter than ever.
How USCIS calculates L1 Eligibility 1 Year foreign employment?
Start looking back 3 years from the date the initial L-1 petition is filed and then:
Find the dates you worked for the employer outside USA.
Find the lengths of any breaks in your employment during the 3 years before the L-1 petition. If you worked for same employer in US as H1B worker earlier, adjust the 3-year period accordingly. Example given below.
Subtract the total length of all the breaks found in Step 2 from the relevant three-year period.
If the result is a continuous 1-year period within the relevant 3-year period, then you have met the one-year foreign employment requirement.
H1B Change of Status to L1 within USA
If you were working in the US “for” the same employer (who is sponsoring L1 now) with some other visa like H1B, your time in USA does not count towards the one-year foreign employment requirement.
But, this time does result in an adjustment of the three-year period (required for L-1 Petition) if you are working with work permit like H-1B or E-2 executive, supervisory, or essential employee.
If you worked in the USA with valid H-1B status for your employer from Jan 2, 2017 to Jan 2, 2018, and then filed for L-1 status on Jan 2, 2018, the L1 three-year period requirement will be counted from Jan 1, 2014, to Jan 1, 2017.
L-2, H4, H4 EAD, F1 Change of Status to L1 within USA
The time spent working while in a dependent or student status will not result in an adjustment of the three-year period.
Your stay in L-2 status will not affect the L1 3-year period, because you entered US as an L-2 dependent to join the L-1 principal and not to work “for” the employer (who is sponsoring your L1 now).
Similarly, If you entered US as F-1 student and later applied for optional practical training (OPT) employment with the employer (now sponsoring L1), the time spent in F1 status will not result in an adjustment to the three-year period, because your purpose was study and not to work “for” the L1 employer. This would not change even if the L1 employer financed the F-1’s studies.
On the same lines, H4 EAD worker’s time with employer sponsoring L1 now will not be counted towards L-1 three year requirement.
L1 Extension, L1A to L1B COS, L1B to L1A COS
In case of change of status to L-1 status or L1 extensions, the 1 year foreign employment requirement should have been MET at the time of filing initial (first) L-1 petition.
Not working in USA for L1 employer – 3 Year requirement
Your time spent in US without working (except for short visits for business or pleasure in B-1 or B-2 status), or while working for an unrelated employer, do break the one continuous year foreign employment requirement, but should not affect the three-year period.
The relevant point in time to satisfy the 1-year foreign employment requirement is the date on which the initial L-1 petition was filed, regardless of when the worker was, or will be, admitted to US.
Employment Breaks more than 2 years
If you take a break in employment or stop working for L1 sponsor for a period of more than 2 years during the 3 years preceding the L1 filing, then you cannot meet the 1-year foreign employment requirement.
You can again qualify for the L-1 after a new one-year period though.