The L1 visa is generally designed for the intra-company transfer of key managerial or executive personnel within international businesses. However, the same provisions can also be applied to non-profit religious organizations, thanks to the precedent set in the Matter of Church Scientology International. This article breaks down the requirements and criteria involved in an L1 visa application for a non-profit religious organization using the criteria from this case.

Ownership and Control for Qualifying Relationship

Ownership and control are pivotal factors in establishing a qualifying relationship between entities. In the context of L1 visas, “ownership” refers to the direct or indirect legal right of possessing the assets of an entity with the full power and authority to control. “Control,” on the other hand, signifies the direct or indirect legal right and authority to oversee the establishment, management, and operations of an entity.

Criteria for Qualifying Relationship Between Religious Entities

In the Matter of Church Scientology International, the interpretation was made that religious organizations should meet the same L1 standards applied to businesses. The absence of a provision for religious organizations does not disqualify them from obtaining an L1 visa if they meet all other requirements. Ownership and control, in the context of religious organizations, can also refer to ecclesiastical and doctrinal control.

Congressional Intent: L1 Provisions for International Businesses

It is important to note that the congressional intent behind L1 visas was primarily aimed at facilitating personnel transfers within international businesses. Nonetheless, any religious personnel who can meet the same L1 visa requirements as business personnel may be granted L1 visas or Schedule A, Group IV, labor certifications.

Uneven Past Decisions and the Way Forward

In the past, there have been varied standards for determining qualifying relationships between entities. However, it should be understood that religious personnel are NOT exempt from meeting the L1 eligibility criteria. This ensures fairness and uniformity in the adjudication of L1 and Schedule A, Group IV, cases.


The Matter of Church Scientology International has significantly clarified the L1 visa application process for non-profit religious organizations. It establishes that the same standards for ownership and control apply to both business and religious entities. It also reiterates that religious organizations are not exempt from adhering to the traditional L1 eligibility requirements. Therefore, when applying for an L1 visa for a non-profit religious organization, it is essential to thoroughly understand and meet the stipulated conditions concerning qualifying relationships, ownership, and control.

By understanding the intricacies involved in the L1 visa application process, especially as laid out by the Matter of Church Scientology International, non-profit religious organizations can better navigate the complexities and requirements, ensuring a smoother application process.

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