L1 Visa for the U.S- Everything about Eligibility Requirements, Benefits, and Processing Times
Many people wonder about the L1 visa for the U.S, its benefits, and how the entire process works. It’s pretty natural to feel confused about the L1 visa because of the constant visa-changing policies. But, there is nothing to worry about it. If you want to learn about the L1 visa for the U.S., you have come to the right place.
What is an L1 Visa?
The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows overseas workers to transfer employees to the United States. These employees are generally working as managers or in senior positions.
One of the main characteristics of the L1 visa is that you do not need a specific degree to apply. Unlike the H1B, which only permits foreigners to work on the payroll of a U.S based company, the L1 visa holder can work with the overseas subsidiary, parent company, affiliate, or the branch office of the U.S Company.
Types of L1 visa
The L1 visa comprises two categories:
- The L1A visa is for managers and executives who are either transferred to a U.S.-based office or to the U.S. to set up new business operations.
- The L1B visa for specialized knowledge workers
The employer applies and pays the required fee, whichever may be the case.
For both L1A and L1B visas, the employee must have worked for the company for at least 12 months in the last 36 months. The L1 visa is valid for three years, and one can extend the same for seven years. The L1B visa can be extended for five years.
If you have been issued an L1 visa to set up new office operations, your visa will be valid for only one year. However, if the purpose is to transfer an employee to a U.S. affiliated office, the visa will last for three years.
L1 Visa Eligibility Requirements
- The employer in the U.S and the foreign branch employing the applicant must demonstrate a qualifying relationship before applying for the visa. Also, the employer must be actively involved in the business until the visa holder stays in the U.S. The qualifying relationship must be a parent company, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate.
- The employee must have completed at least one year of employment for the company outside the U.S. in the last 36 months before applying for the USA business visa.
- The employee must leave the United States after completion of the visa
Applying for a Green Card while holding an L1 visa
If you wish to remain in the U.S permanently, you will have to apply for a Green Card separately. You need to adjust your immigration status under a relevant immigration category. The L1 to Green Card is an ideal pathway to permanent residency in the United States. The process is pretty simple for L1 visa holders.
But just because it’s easier for L1 holders doesn’t mean that there will be no more complications.
For the L1 visa holders, the eligibility requirements for the green card application fall within the EB1C category. Make sure your employer files the Form I-140 simultaneously while you apply for the same.
Although there are no special requirements for L1 visa holders, they must undertake the PERM labor certification program that permits a U.S-based employer to permanently hire a foreign national to work in a job position. After that, they must follow the same process as determined for other employment-based green cards. The Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for issuing a permanent labor certification.
Another way, if you have worked in a managerial position for over three years before coming to the U.S, you can apply in the EB1C category if your employer maintains your role in the U.S branch.
L1 to Green Card- Processing Time
Unlike other employment-based green card visas, where the process could take years, the processing time for the L1 visa holders is relatively short. In a general scenario where all the paperwork is complete and correct, the processing time could be less than a year.
The L1 visa can be a great kick-start if you and your family are interested in relocating to the United States. With the proper guidance and information, you will be able to navigate through the process from being an L1 visa holder to a green cardholder.