Professionals with a L1A visa have the option to stay in the United States permanently. The L1A visa is a non-immigrant visa exclusive to foreign executives and managers who have been transferred to their company’s offices in the U.S. Holders of L1A visas (temporary visas for intracompany transferees) can transition to a green card without losing their L1 visa status if they meet certain requirements. With a permanent resident card or ‘green card’, you can stay in the United States permanently as you conduct business. If you’re an L1A visa holder who has roots abroad and a footing in the U.S., you may be a good candidate for a green card.
Acquiring a green card is often simpler for individuals with a L1A visa than for those who possess temporary (non-immigrant) visas. As a L1A visa holder, you can enjoy several key advantages such as being covered by the doctrine of dual intent and having professional qualifications which allows you to bypass the process of labor certification required to obtain a green card. If you have an L1 visa, you can apply for a green card in the United States through a two-part process.
EB-1 Priority Workers
An L1 visa is a dual intent visa that typically requires visa holders to apply for an employment-based green card. There are many categories of employment-based green cards based on job requirements set by the employer and the experience and qualifications of the alien. As an executive or manager of a multinational company, you will likely file an application in the EB1C category. The EB1 category, also known as E13, consists of priority workers. Some managers or executives transferred to the U.S. by multinational companies will qualify for this classification. However, there are strict definitions for what is considered a manager or executive.
The major advantage of acquiring your green card through the EB1C category is that you can avoid the complex labor certification process. For most foreign nationals who would like their employers to sponsor them in the U.S., the Labor Certification from the Department of Labor is often the first step. While labor certification is in place to protect U.S. workers and the American labor market by preventing foreign workers seeking immigrant visas from displacing equally-qualified U.S. workers, it can make it difficult for foreign workers to find employment. Not only is labor certification a time-consuming process, it can also be quite expensive and there are no guarantees of a successful outcome.
In the EB1C category, the employer files Form I-140, Petition for Immigrant Worker. However, the petition must be filed with certain documentation that proves that the employee is eligible for a green card. For workers who are already in the U.S., he or she must have already been employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year in the three years preceding arrival to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant in a managerial or executive capacity.
Another requirement when submitting Form I-140 is for the prospective employer in the U.S. has to be the same employer or an affiliate or subsidiary of the corporation or firm by which the alien is employed in their home country. This prospective U.S. employer had to also have conducted business for a minimum of one year. Finally, documentation must be shown the alien to be employed in the U.S. in an executive or managerial capacity. With this documentation you must also provide a detailed description of duties that the employer will perform as an executive or manager of a multinational company.
The second part of the L1A visa to green card process involves submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status. Once the visa petition has been approved, you are now able to submit your application for a green card, or “adjust status”. Adjustment of status (AOS) is a procedure that allows an immigrant to become a permanent resident of the U.S. without having to travel abroad to apply for an immigrant visa. To have “adjust status”, an immigrant must be eligible to apply for a green card and be eligible to do so while living in the United States. This means not going abroad for a consular interview.
Immigrants must fit both criteria to be eligible for adjustment of status, which only a limited group of people are. You may be eligible if you came to the U.S. on a temporary visa but went on to marry a U.S. citizen, or if you have received asylum in the United States. You may also be eligible if you came to the U.S. on a temporary work visa and had your employer sponsor you for a green card. Other eligible persons include those who came to the U.S. as a fiancé of a U.S. citizen and married before their fiancé visa expired. You may not be eligible to adjust status (even if you are eligible for a green card) if you entered the U.S. without inspection, you overstayed a visa, or you are not the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.
In addition to Form I-485, you may need to attach other forms as evidence depending on your specific situation. This may consist of proof of your eligibility for a green card, evidence of any criminal convictions, Forms G325A, I-693, I-864, I-765, and I-131, as well as two color photos taken within the last 30 days, your birth certificate with an English translation, a photocopy of the non-immigrant visa page in your passport, and a fee for the application and fingerprinting.
Once you have completed these steps, you will likely need to wait several months before you hear back. Once you do, you’ll be scheduled for an interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before hopefully being approved as a U.S. permanent resident. As this entire process can be long and complex, it’s wise to hire a lawyer to represent you and handle the L1A visa to green card process. Contact Pride Immigration today for a free consultation.