How to go From L1 Visa to Green Card: Step-by-Step Guide

How to go From L1 Visa to Green Card: Step-by-Step Guide

 

The L1 visa gives foreign workers the ability to transfer to a related US company to work as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker. However, the L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card.

 

In this guide, I’m going to discuss how to go from an L1 visa to green card.

 

If you have any questions, email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I would be happy to answer your questions.

 

Overview:

 

1. Summary of the L1 Visa

 

2. How to Go From L1 Visa to Green Card

 

3. EB1C Visa

 

4. Other Options to go From L1 Visa to Green Card

 

5. Conclusion

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1. Summary of the L1 Visa

 

The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows foreign companies to transfer a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker, to a related US company. The foreign company must have a qualifying relationship with the US company. Additionally, the foreign worker must be coming to the United States to work for the US company as either a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker.

 

L1 Visa Requirements

 

In order to get an L1 Visa, there are 4 main requirements:

 

  • There must be a qualifying relationship between the US company and the foreign company. Examples of qualifying relationships that satisfy the L1 requirements are a parent/subsidiary relationship, affiliate relationship, and branch office.

 

  • The beneficiary of the L1 visa must have worked for the foreign company full-time for at least 1 continuous year, within the preceding 3 years prior to filing the L1 visa petition.

 

  • The beneficiary of the L1 visa must have worked for the foreign employer as either a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker.

 

  • The L1 visa beneficiary must be coming to the United States to work for the US company as either a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker.

 

 

Types of L1 Visas

 

There are 2 types of L1 visas:

 

  • L1A

 

  • L1B

 

Differences Between L1A and L1B

 

The difference between these 2 types of L1 visas has to do with the work the beneficiary will perform in the United States. If the L1 visa beneficiary will work as a manager or executive for the US company, then they are classified as L1A. If the L1 visa beneficiary will work as a specialized knowledge worker for the US company, then they are classified as L1B.

 

One of the primary differences between the L1A visa and the L1B has to do with the length of stay permitted under each classification. The L1A visa permits a maximum stay of up to 7 years while the L1B visa permits a maximum stay of up to 5 years.

 

2. How to Go From L1 Visa to Green Card

 

The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa and so it is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card.

In order to go from an L1 visa to a green card, you must apply for and get approved for an immigrant visa classification. More specifically, you must get approved for an immigrant petition through USCIS(such as an I-130 or I-140) and either adjust status (by filing a Form I-485 with USCIS) or apply for an immigrant visa (by filing a Form DS-260 with the Department of State).

The difference between an immigrant classification and a non-immigrant classification is that an immigrant classification leads to a green card (permanent residence) and a non-immigrant classification does not lead to a green card.

 

Important Note:

 

Many non-immigrant visas, such as the B1/B2 visitor visa require you to have non-immigrant intent. This means that you cannot have the intent to eventually immigrate to the United States and apply for your green card.

 

The L1 visa does not require that you have non-immigrant intent. Instead, the L1 visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that you can have the intent to eventually immigrate to the United States.

 

Now that I’ve discussed the basic information about the L1 visa and about going from an L1 visa to green card, I’m going to now discuss specific immigrant visa classifications that you may be eligible to apply for with an L1 visa.

 

3. EB1C Visa

 

The EB1C visa is an immigrant visa classification that closely resembles the L1A visa. Because of the similarities between the L1A visa and the EB1C visa, it is a very common way for L1 visa holders to go from an L1 visa to green card.

 

Summary of EB1C Visa

 

The EB1C visa is an immigrant classification that allows foreign companies to transfer a manager or executive to a related US company. The foreign worker must have worked for the foreign company full-time for at least 1 continuous year within the 3 years prior to filing the EB1C visa petition. However, if the foreign worker has been working for the US company, then they only need to have worked for the foreign company within the 3 years prior to beginning to work for the US company. 

 

There must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company. Also, the foreign worker must have worked for the foreign company as a manager or executive and must be coming to the United States to work for the US company as a manager or executive.

 

EB1C Visa Requirements

 

In order to get an EB1C visa, there are 5 main requirements:

 

  • There must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company. Examples of qualifying relationships that will satisfy this requirement are: parent/subsidiary, branch office, and affiliate relationship.

 

  • The EB1C beneficiary must have worked continuously for the foreign company full-time for 1 year, within the 3 years preceding the filing of the EB1C petition. Or, if the EB1C beneficiary is currently working for the US company, then they must have worked for the foreign company for 1 continuous year within the 3 years prior to working for the US company.

 

  • The EB1C beneficiary must have worked for the foreign company as a manager or executive.

 

  • The beneficiary must be coming to the United States to work for the US company as a manager or executive.

 

  • The US company must have been doing business for at least 1 year at the time the EB1C petition is filed.

 

 

Similarities Between L1A and EB1C

 

The requirements for getting an L1A visa are almost identical to the EB1C visa requirements. Both visa categories require a qualifying relationship, a year of continuous employment abroad, and a US job assignment as either a manager or an executive.

 

Differences Between L1A ad EB1C

 

While the L1A visa and EB1C visa are very similar in many ways, they also have key differences. The EB1C visa requires that the US business has been doing business for at least 1 year prior to filing the EB1C petition. The L1A visa has no such requirement. Conversely, the L1 visa allows the US company to be newly formed.

 

Another key difference between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa has to do with the scrutiny that each petition goes through. Both classifications are very strictly reviewed by immigration officers, so it is very important to clearly demonstrate how you satisfy each of the requirements. However, because the EB1C visa is an immigrant classification, it is scrutinized even more strictly that the L1 classification. So just because someone got approved for an L1A visa does not mean that they will qualify for an EB1C visa.

 

Another difference between the 2 visas is that to get an L1A visa, your employment for the foreign company could have been in a specialized knowledge capacity. Conversely, to get an EB1C visa, your employment for the foreign company must have been as either a manager or executive.

 

Going From L1 Visa to EB1C Green Card

 

If you are currently in L1A status and you are working as a manager or an executive, the process of applying for an EB1C green card is fairly straightforward. You should make sure that the US company has been sufficiently doing business for at least 1 year and that your position for the foreign company was as a manager or executive.

 

However, if you are currently in L1B status, your transition from L1B to EB1C may be a bit more challenging. Recall, the L1B is for people who are working for the US company as a specialized knowledge worker. To get an EB1C green card, you must work for the US company as a manager or an executive, and your employment for the foreign company must have been as a manager or executive. It is very possible that if you are currently in L1B status, that your employment for the foreign company was as a specialized knowledge worker. If so, you will have to show that your duties for the foreign employer also satisfy the definitions for either a manager or executive. If you are unable to do so, it may be very difficult to get your EB1C petition approved.

 

Application Process of Going From L1 Visa to EB1C Green Card

 

Going from an L1 visa to an EB1C green card is a 2 step process. First, your immigration lawyer will file a Form I-140, also called the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Second, your immigration lawyer will file a Form I-485, also called the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. In many cases, your immigration lawyer can file both of these forms concurrently.

 

Now that I’ve discussed one of the most common ways of going from an L1 visa to green card, I’m going to discuss a few other green card options as well.

 

4. Other Options to go From L1 Visa to Green Card

 

In addition to the EB1C option, there are also other ways to go from an L1 visa to green card.

 

i. Employer Sponsorship Through PERM Labor Certification

 

You may also be eligible for a green card by having a US employer sponsor you for a green card though a job offer in either the EB-2 or EB-3 visa categories. In order to do this, your US employer will have to get an approved labor certification.

 

A labor certification is issued through the United States Department of Labor and certifies that your US employer made attempts to hire a qualified US worker but was unable to do so.

 

Overview of the Green Card Process Through Labor Certification:

 

  • Your prospective US employer must go through certain job recruitment activities, such as posting job listings.

 

  • The US employer must be unsuccessful in finding a qualified US worker.

 

  • The US employer must offer you a full-time permanent position within the company.

 

  • The US employer must pay you the prevailing wage for the position they are hiring you for.

 

  • The US employer must demonstrate that they have the ability to pay you the prevailing wage.

 

  • You must independently qualify for either an EB-2 or EB-3 visa.

 

  • The PERM Labor Certification process is fairly complex. If you have questions about this, email me at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.

 

ii. EB-5 Visa

 

Another option to go from an L1 visa to green card is through the EB-5 visa. The EB-5 visa is an investment-based immigrant visa. In order to get an EB-5 visa, you must invest $1 million in a US business and your business must create 10 full-time jobs for US workers. If the business you are investing in is located in an economically depressed area, you may qualify to make a reduced investment of $500,000 instead of $1 million.

 

iii. EB1A Visa

 

Another green card option is the EB1A visa. The EB1A visa is an immigrant visa classification for people with extraordinary abilities in a particular field. In order to qualify for an EB1A visa, you need to show that you have an extraordinary ability, that you will continue to work in the United States in your field of extraordinary ability, and that you will be benefiting the United States. Extraordinary ability means that you are one of the few people who has risen to the very top of your field and that you have sustained national or international acclaim.

 

5. Conclusion

 

At this point you should have a much better understanding of how to go from an L1 visa to green card. The information discussed in this guide is highly complex and detailed.

 

If you have any questions or if you need help going from an L1 visa to green card, email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com, I would be happy to help you.

 

I’m Michael Ashoori, Esq. and I’m the founding attorney at Ashoori Law. Ashoori Law is a Los Angeles based immigration law firm focused on helping people get visas to the United States.

 

Resources:

 

 

 

  • Business Immigration: Law and Practice, 2nd Ed. Chapter 11 L1 Visas and Nonimmigrant Status

 

 

 

 

  • Business Immigration: Law & Practice, 2ND ED. Vol. 2: Chapter 3 - The Immigrant Visa Petition

 

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Michael Ashoori, Esq.

President of Ashoori Law

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped thousands of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.