L1 Visa Duration: How to Extend Beyond 5 and 7 Year Limits

L1 Visa Duration

 

The L1 visa allows a foreign company to transfer certain employees to work for an affiliated US company.

 

One important aspect of the L1 visa is that it is a non-immigrant visa and so it is temporary in nature and does not directly lead to a green card.

 

In this guide, I will discuss the L1 visa duration and how to potentially extend your stay in the US beyond the 5 and 7-year maximum time limits.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and would happy to answer your questions.

 

Overview:

 

1. Quick Explanation of L1 Visa

2. L1 Visa Duration

3. Differences Between New Offices and Existing Offices

4. How to Extend Beyond 5 and 7 Year Limits

5. Conclusion

 

 

1. Quick Explanation of L1 Visa

 

The L1 “Intracompany Transferee” visa, allows a foreign company to transfer a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker to a related US company. The foreign company and the US company must have a qualifying relationship with each other. Examples of qualifying relationships include: parent/subsidiary, branch office, and affiliate relationship.

 

L1 Visa Requirements:

 

  • Qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company;
  • L1 visa beneficiary must have worked for the foreign company full-time and continuously for at least 1 year within the 3 years prior to applying for the L1 visa;
  • The L1 visa beneficiary must have worked for the foreign company as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker;
  • The L1 visa beneficiary must work for the US company as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker.

 

Benefits of L1 Visa:

 

  • Ability to live and work in the US
  • Work authorization for your spouse
  • Dual intent visa
  • Eligible to be extended
  • Eligible for premium processing

 

2. L1 Visa Duration

 

The L1 visa category is broken into 2 subcategories: L1A and L1B. The L1A visa is issued if you will be working in the US as a manager or executive. The L1B visa is issued if you will be working in the US as a specialized knowledge worker. The total L1 visa duration depends on whether you are applying under the L1A category or the L1B category.

 

  • L1A: Total of 7 Years Available

 

  • L1B: Total of 5 Years Available

 

 

3. Differences Between New Offices and Existing Offices

 

Another factor that determines the L1 visa duration (from a procedural standpoint), is whether you will be applying for an L1 visa as a new office or as an existing office.

 

For L1 visa purposes, a “new office” is a company that has been doing business for less than 1 year.

 

Typically, an L1 visa is initially granted for a 3-year period with 2-year extensions available (2 extensions available for L1A and 1 extension available for L1B).

 

However, if the L1 visa is approved for a new office, the visa is initially granted for a 1-year period with 2-year extensions available at the end of the year.

 

Once an L1 visa beneficiary has reached their 5 or 7-year limit, they must be outside of the US for at least 1 year before they can reapply for an L1 visa.

 

4. How to Extend Beyond 5 and 7 Year Limits

 

  • Recapturing Time Spent Outside of the US
  • Change of Status/Adjustment of Status

 

i. Recapturing Time Spent Outside of the US

 

  • As an L1 visa beneficiary, you are given a maximum period of 5 to 7 years depending if you are on L1A or L1B visa.

 

  • Periods of time spent outside of the US do not count toward the 5 to 7-year total.

 

  • So, any period of time (at least 1 full day) spent outside of the US may be eligible to be recaptured.

 

  • This means that you can extend your L1 visa to account for that time that you spent outside of the US.

 

  • To do this your employer should file a petition to extend the L1 visa to recapture unused L1 time.

 

  • This petition should include evidence proving your presence outside of the US (such as boarding passes, flight confirmations, I-94 records, etc.)

 

  • Your dependents (L2 visa beneficiaries) are also eligible to recapture the time they spent outside of the US.

 

 

ii. Change of Status/Adjustment of Status

 

If you did not spend any time outside of the US while on your L1 visa, there are other options to consider, including a change of status or adjustment of status.

 

 

Change of Status

 

  • A change of status is the process of going from one non-immigrant visa status to another non-immigrant visa status. This entire process is handled within the US.

 

  • To change status from L1 to another non-immigrant status, you must file your petition to change status while you are in current, valid L1 status.

 

Here are some non-immigrant options that you may wish to consider:

 

  • E2 Visa: The E2 visa is an investment-based visa which allows someone to live and work in the US based on making an investment in a US business.

 

  • O1 Visa: The O1 visa is for people with an extraordinary ability in a certain area. The O1 visa allows you to live in the US and work in your area of extraordinary ability.

 

Adjustment of Status

 

  • An adjustment of status is the process of converting from a non-immigrant status to immigrant status.

 

  • The entire adjustment of status process is handled within the US.

 

Here are some routes to adjust status from L1:

 

  • EB5 Visa: The EB5 visa is an investment-based immigrant visa. Basically, by investing at least $500,000 in a US business and creating 10 full-time jobs for US workers, the EB5 visa allows you to apply for a US green card.

 

  • Employer Sponsorship: A US company may be eligible to sponsor you for a green card by giving you a full-time job offer. In order to do so, your prospective employer must be authorized to hire a foreign worker by getting a labor certification by the US Department of Labor.

 

  • Green Card through Marriage: If you enter into a legitimate marriage with a US citizen or permanent resident, this can also qualify you for a green card.

 

5. Conclusion

 

The L1 visa allows foreign companies to transfer certain employees to work in the US. However, the L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa and is temporary. The total L1 visa duration is anywhere from 5 to 7 years depending on whether you apply for an L1A visa or L1B visa. Additionally, the initial length of your L1 visa will depend on whether you are applying for an L1 visa as a new office or whether you will be working for an existing business.

 

To extend beyond the standard 5 and 7-year L1 visa duration, you may wish to recapture time spend outside of the US or, alternatively, you may petition for a change of status or adjustment of status.

 

If you have any questions over any of the information in this guide, or if you’d like to hire me as your immigration lawyer, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and would be happy to help you.

 

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