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Differences And Similarities Between L-1 Visa And H-1B Visa

Author: New York Employment Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

There are limited employment visa options for those who would like to work in the US. Among the most popular ones are H1B, L1, O and P visas, as well as E and TN.

Like an H-1B Visa holder, the L-1 visa holder may seek to procure lawful permanent resident status without fear of jeopardizing their status in the United States as both visas are duel intent visas.

The purpose of an L-1 Visa is to allow companies to transfer key employees to the US Company. An L-1 Visa applicant can extend their visa for up to 5 years as L-1B and 7 years as L-1A visa applicants. The main difference between the two visas is that L-1A is for Manager or Executives who will transfer to the US based company whereas L-1B visa is for “Specialized Knowledge Staff.” Many factors are taken into consideration when determining the strength of a case. For L-1A Visa’s the larger the company the better for the transfer of a Manager or Executive to the US based company. For an L-1B visa the larger the company the harder it is to obtain this visa, you must show that you possess a special knowledge or skills and the company cannot transfer a different US employee to cover your intended position.

The major difference between L-1 and H-1B visas, are the lack of a cap. H-1B has a cap that is usually hit the day an employer is able to file its petition. This means that the documents must be prepared and updated in advance and submitted “expedited” in order to even be considered. L-1 Visa comes with a higher standard and requires the applicant to have been working with the company for a period of at least of one year continuously during the past 3 years. A secondary difference between the L-1 and H1-B visas is that the dependents of L-1 Visa’s may obtain a work authorization whereas H-1B dependents may not. Another major difference between these two visa categories is that L-1 managers can sometimes petition for a green card without the need of a labor certification.

For L-1 Visa applicants the employer is not required to submit a prevailing wage determination application. This can save anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks on average and avoid the situation of an employer retracting their interest in your visa because the Department of Labor states requires the employer to pay more money than they had hoped to pay an employee. The only requirement for an L-1 Visa is that the individual will not require any public assistance in the US with the wages received.

There are of course, other minor differences between the two visas/statuses. One should consult with an Immigration attorney before starting any visa/employment immigration process.

21 June 2016
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