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Difference Between "Executive" and "Manager" Under L-1A: Nonimmigrant Visa

The L1A visa is granted to executives and managers of multinational companies. People prefer this visa because it is possible to apply for green card while possessing this visa, as long as your company is willing to petition on your behalf until the process is complete, which can take months.

General Requirements for Employers

  • U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company

  • Be “doing business” as an employer in U.S. currently -- providing regular, systematic and continuous goods / services

Qualifications for Employees

  • Work for the foreign company for one (1) year continuously within the previous three years before entering the U.S.

  • Be able to prove you are entering the U.S. to work in an “executive” or “manager” capacity

Here is how USCIS defines executive and managerial capacity.

Executive

  • your job description allows you a lot of decision making power, so you can act independently without much supervision from others except board of directors and higher level executives

  • you don’t actually perform functions of the company; instead you direct management of the company or functions of the company

  • you set division wide or company wide policies and goals

  • rather than managing a team or professional staff you instead have only personal staff like executive or administrative assistants

Manager

  • you supervise other executive or manager level staff in the company

  • you manage a department, subdivision or component of the organization

  • you manage the organization

  • you manage a function of the organization at a high level without supervision

  • you exercise hiring/firing power and can grant promotions and leave


Note: If you actually perform and control a function of the organization at a high level but only have personal staff, you would likely qualify for the L1B category as an employee with specialized skills.


References:

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1a-intracompany-transferee-executive-or-manager

https://www.immihelp.com/l1-visa/l1-a-visa-managers-executives.html

https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-101/0-0-0-195.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/8/214.2