Both the H-1B visa and the L-1 visa can be used by businesses that seek to bring valuable employees to the United States. Essentially, both visa types will allow an individual from a foreign country to enter the United States and work there for a specified amount of time.
The L-1 visa and H-1B visa have different benefits. Some individuals may pursue an “adjustment of status” to have their L-1 status changed to an H-1B visa status. Individuals with an L-1A Visa or L-1B visa may be eligible for this adjustment of status if they satisfy certain requirements.
Processing Similarities Between the L-1 Visa and the H-1B Visa
Although the two visas area similar in nature, it is important for employers and employees to understand the similarities and differences between L-1 and H-1B visas before pursuing an adjustment of status. In terms of processing, there are clear similarities between the L-1 visa and the H-1B visa.
The first similarity is premium processing. The applicant can apply for premium processing for either visa, which means that the issuing organization will work faster to approve the application. The faster processing usually amounts to 15-day processing time. The applicant will have to pay USCIS additional monies for the premium processing. The cost for such processing may be as much as an extra $1,000.
Another similarity between the H-1B visa and the L-1 visa is that they are both temporary non-immigrant visas. Additionally, they both have a “dual intent” purpose. The term dual intent means that the job that the immigrant’s foreign work does not necessarily tie him/her to the country.
Key Differences Between the L-1 Visa and the H-1B Visa
There are important differences between the L-1 visa and the H-1B visa. The first difference is the amount of time that a person can remain in the United States on the visas. An H-1B visa allows for a six-year stay in the U.S. The person can apply for a three-year extension at the end of those six years.
The L-1A visa allows for seven years if the person has an L-1A. The L-1B time span is shorter, as it only allows for a five-year stay in the United States. For more information on L-1A and L-1B visas, review our information pages:
L-1A Visa Frequently Asked Questions
L-1B Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Another significant difference that exists between the two visas is that the government does not have a cap on the number of L-1 visas it issues as it does with the H-1B visas. Furthermore, individuals who apply for the L-1 visa do not have to submit a labor condition application or “LCA”.
The Benefits of Changing Status from L-1 to H-1B
A worker may at some point want to change his or her status from L-1 to H-1B. Many benefits exist for this simple change of status. The two main benefits are the potential to remain in the U.S. for a longer period of time, and the ability to change employers.
A primary benefit that a person can receive from such a change is that it can save the individual from having to exit the United States. Persons who receive a denial for an H-1B visa while they are maintaining an L-1 visa status will be able to lawfully remain in the United States (under their L visa status).
The change from L-1 to H-1B status can also assist workers who wish to change their jobs or employers. The restrictions on the L-1 visa make it so that a person cannot apply for a job that is different from the one that they were working when they originally applied for the L-1 visa. The status transfer to H-1B status would allow the applicant the freedom to change positions or employers.
The Negative Side to Changing Status from L-1 to H-1B Status
As with every process, some negative aspects exist to changing one’s status from L-1 to H-1B. One negative aspect of such a change is that the H-1B holder has to pay taxes on a wage rate. The L-1 holder does not have concern himself or herself with minimum wages. Another negative is that only a certain number of H-1B visas can be issued each year. No restrictions exist on L-1 approvals.
How to Change from L-1 to H-1B Status
The process of changing from L-1 to H-1B status begins with the employer filing a petition on the worker’s behalf. The employer will want to write a letter that specifies the dates of employment and the worker’s responsibilities. The employer will want to discuss the wages, as well.
The last two steps are filing a Labor Certification Application and sending all those documents to USCIS. Form I-129 must be included in the packet. The applicant will want to use black ink and be sure to send in the appropriate amount of money for the process.
Seek Legal Assistance Before Adjusting Your Status
This article outlines important information regarding the adjustment of status from an L-1 visa to an H-1B visa. However, determining eligibility for adjustment of status and executing the process requires a thorough understanding of federal law. It is not recommended for any individual or employer to pursue an adjustment of status without qualified legal assistance.
We Are Ready to Assist You!
Pride Immigration Law Firm PLLC has extensive experience assisting both employers and professionals apply for worker visas and pursue adjustment of status. If you are interested in pursuing a worker visa, or adjusting your visa status, call our office today or send us a message online with your case description. We are confident in our ability to manage your case so that you receive the best result possible.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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