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This permanent category is very similar to the non-immigrant/temporary L-1A category, but there are important differences. Just because a foreign national has an L-1A visa does not mean that they will automatically qualify for the Multinational Executive or Manager Employment-Based First-Preference category.
Like the L-1A category, the EB-1 permanent Multinational Executive or Manager category requires that the foreign national has worked for one out of the last three years for a company abroad which is related to the U.S. company (parent company, subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture) as a manager or executive, and be coming to the U.S. to work in an executive or managerial capacity for the U.S. sponsoring company. The definitions of “Related Company” as well as “Executive” and “Manager” are similar for both the L-1A non-immigrant visa and the permanent Multinational Executive or Manager category. One difference is an exception to the requirement that the one year which the foreign national must have worked for the corporate entity abroad have been in the last three years. Generally, a foreign national seeking permanent residence through the multinational executive or manager path must meet the one year out of the last three requirements. However, if the foreign national has come to the U.S. to work for the related U.S. corporate entity and has worked exclusively for the related U.S. corporate entity since entry, then the three years that count are the three years before entry into the U.S. For instance, a foreign national who worked for the foreign entity of Company A for the entire calendar year 2010, then came to the U.S. to work for the U.S. entity of Company A on January 1, 2011 (or soon after, allowing time for petition approval/L-1A stamp issuance), could apply for permanent residence through a Multinational Executive or Manager petition…even in 2016. Although the person’s work for the foreign entity of Company A was more than three years ago, they would fit under this exception since they have worked exclusively for the U.S. entity of company since coming to the U.S. This would not be true if the foreign national took 2003 off to work for another employer and then returned to Company A.
Yes, if this person came over on an L-1A (as is likely). For an L-1A where the beneficiary is an owner of the company, USCIS takes the position that the owner must have the intent to return abroad at the end of a limit-duration assignment with the US company – that they must intend to come here only to get the company off the ground and then to return abroad. So, an L-1A isn’t truly “dual intent” in the context of an owner as it would normally be for an L-1 visa. Obtaining an L-1A and entering on it would be viewed as inconsistent with an intent to file for permanent residence, and the act of applying for permanent residence may cause a recent L-1A petition or entry to be viewed as fraudulent. Of course, sometimes – long after an L-1A petition or entry – circumstances may change causing an L-1A owner’s plans with regard to returning home to then change.
Generally, it does not matter. However, there was a period of time when an individual entering under a blanket petition in some circumstances need only have worked for the related company abroad for only six months before becoming eligible for L-1 status. Even though people entering under this provision could enter legally on an L-1, they would not have been eligible for the permanent Multinational Executive or Manager category without one full year working for the overseas entity.