L1B Visa To Green Card
The L1B visa was designed to allow certain foreign workers to transfer to the United States and to work as a specialized knowledge worker for their employer. Yet the L1B visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card. However, some options remain available for L1B visa holders looking to secure permanent residency in the United States.
In this guide, I’m going to discuss how to go from an L1B visa to a green card.
If you have any questions, email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I would be happy to answer your questions.
- Summary of the L1 Classification and the L1B Visa
- How to Go From the L1B Visa to Green Card
- The EB1C Visa and its Viability for L1B Visa Holders
- PERM Labor Certification – a More Realistic Option for L1B Visa Holders
- The EB-5 Visa
- The EB-1A Visa
1. Summary of the L1 Classification and the L1B Visa
The L1 Visa (also referred to as the intracompany transferee visa) allows foreign companies to transfer certain employees to work for their United States parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office. If the foreign company does not have a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office in the United States, the L1 visa allows the foreign company to send an employee to establish a new office in the United States.
Within the L1 visa, there are 2 separate classifications, the L1A visa and the L1B visa. The L1A visa is for foreign workers who will be working in the United States as either a manager or executive. The L1B visa is for foreign workers who will be working in the United States as a specialized knowledge worker.
The L1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, so it is temporary in nature and does not directly lead to a green card. In order to go from L1B visa to green card, you will have to switch to an immigrant visa classification, which we will discuss below.
L1B Visa Requirements
To get an L1B visa, there are 3 main requirements:
- There must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company.
- The L1B visa beneficiary must have continuously been employed by the foreign company, full-time, for at least 1 year within the previous 3 years prior to filing the L1B petition.
- The L1B visa beneficiary must be coming to the US company to work in a position that requires specialized knowledge.
2. How to Go From the L1B Visa to a Green Card
As discussed, the L1B visa Is a non-immigrant visa that is temporary in nature, so it does not directly lead to a green card. However, there are still some solutions available for those seeking permanent residency in the United States.
The critical part of transitioning for a green card to apply for and be approved under an immigrant visa classification. You must be approved for an immigrant petition through USCIS, such as an I-130 or I-140, and then either adjust status with USCIS or apply for an immigrant visa through consular processing.
An immigrant classification leads to a green card, while a non-immigrant classification, such as L1B, does not. A green card ensures permanent residency and is the first step for obtaining United States citizenship, if that is your ultimate objective.
It is also important to note that the L1B visa does not require that you have non-immigrant intent (such as is required with a tourist visa). Instead, you can have dual intent, which means if you eventually pursue your green card, you have the ability to do so without scrutiny regarding whether that was your intent all along.
3. The EB1C Visa and its Viability for L1B Visa Holders
The EB1C visa is an immigrant visa 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 or 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. The foreign worker must have also worked for the foreign company as a manager or executive. The foreign worker must also work for the US employer as either a manager or executive, once the EB1C is approved.
The EB1C visa is very similar to the L1A visa, rather than the L1B visa. Therefore, there are some important things to keep in mind with this option.
For those currently in L1B status, a transition from L1B to EB1C may be challenging. The EB1C requires that you work for the US company as an executive or manager, AND your employment with the foreign company must have been as an executive or manager. For that reason, many L1B visa holders will not find this option useful. In the event that you may still possibly qualify, you will still be tasked with showing that your employment for the foreign company satisfied the definitions for either a manager or executive
4. PERM Labor Certification – a More Realistic Option for L1B Visa Holders
Thankfully, there are other options besides EB1C for L1B visa holders seeking a green card.
If an employer is willing to sponsor you, you may be able to transition to an immigrant visa classification under either the EB2 or EB3 visa categories. The first step of this process is for a US employer to secure an approved labor certification. There are multiple categories for EB2: for the purposes of applying with an employer, you will likely fall under the Advanced Degree category. EB3 also has multiple categories: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers. With an L1B, you will likely fall under the “Professionals” category.
Labor certifications are issued through the United States Department of Labor upon submission of necessary information and forms. They must prove that, through testing the market and other means, there are no other viable and/or qualified US workers for the job.
Certain steps of this process include:
- Prospective US employers going through job recruitment activities, such as job listings or advertisements
- They must be unsuccessful at finding a qualified US worker
- They must give you a full-time job offer
- They must have the ability to renumerate (pay) you for your work at the designated prevailing wage
This process can be time-intensive, but qualifying under EB2 and EB3 can be an attractive option, especially if the backlog in your country for these categories is not extensive.
5. The EB-5 Visa
If you possess the necessary capital, one option for obtaining a green card can be through the EB-5 visa. The EB-5 visa is an investment-based immigrant visa. In order to qualify for the EB-5 visa, you must invest $1.8 million and your business must create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers. The investment amount can also be lowered to $900,000 for targeted employment areas (essentially meaning areas that are economically depressed).
6. The EB1A Visa
If you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim, you may possibly qualify for the EB1A visa. While the standard of proof in these cases is high, it may yet be a viable option depending on your background. In addition to showing that you have extraordinary ability, you must show that you will continue to work in the United States in the field of your endeavor, and that your work will substantially benefit US interests. “Extraordinary ability” essentially means you are among the very top of your respective field internationally, and is proven with a variety of evidence.
After having read this guide, you should now have a much better understanding of potential options for transitioning from an L1B visa to a green card.
If you have any questions about the information in this guide or how to proceed on certain points, you can email us directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com or you may request a free consultation by clicking this link. We are very responsive via email and would be happy to help you.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
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 hundreds 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.