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What is the Difference Between the L1 Visa and EB1C Visa?

What is the Difference Between the L1 Visa and EB1C Visa

 

Two very powerful immigration options for investors, entrepreneurs, and other individuals are the L1 visa and the EB1C visa. Both of these options allow a foreign company to transfer an employee to work in the United States for a related U.S. company.

 

While the L1 visa and the EB1C visa are similar in many ways, they also have many key differences. In this guide, I will go over the main differences between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa.

 

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

 

Overview

 

1. Quick Introduction to L1 Visa and EB1C Visa

 

2. Immigrant Visa vs. Non-Immigrant Visa

 

3. Work Authorization

 

4. Visa Duration

 

5. Specialized Knowledge Position Vs. Managerial/Executive Position

 

6. New Office vs. Existing Office

 

7. Higher Standard of Adjudication for EB1C

 

8. Converting from L1 Visa to EB1C Visa

 

9. Conclusion

 

 

1. Quick Introduction to L1 Visa and EB1C Visa

 

The L1 visa and the EB1C visa both have many similarities regarding their requirements. In this section I’m going to quickly cover the basics of both of these visas.

 

L1 Visa

 

The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows a foreign company to send an employee to work for a related U.S. company. In order to qualify for an L1 visa, there are multiple requirements that must be satisfied.

 

L1 Visa Requirements

 

  • There must be a qualifying relationship with the foreign company and the U.S. company (qualifying relations include parent/subsidiary, branch office, and affiliate).

 

  • The beneficiary (employee being transferred to the U.S.) must have worked for the foreign company continuously, full-time, for at least 1 year within the last 3 years, prior to entering the United States

 

  • The beneficiary’s employment for the foreign company must have been in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.

 

  • The beneficiary’s prospective employment with the U.S. company must be in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity

 

EB1C Visa

 

Similar to the L1 visa, the EB1C visa is designed to allow a foreign company to transfer a manager or executive to the United States to work for a related U.S. company

 

EB1C Visa Requirements

 

  • There must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the U.S. company (parent/subsidiary, branch office, affiliate)

 

  • The beneficiary must have worked for the foreign company continuously, full-time, for at least 1 year prior to entering the U.S.

 

  • The U.S. company must be operational (conducting business) for at least 1 year prior to petitioning for the beneficiary

 

  • The beneficiary’s employment for the foreign company must have been in a managerial or executive capacity

 

  • The beneficiary’s prospective employment for the U.S. company must be in a managerial or executive capacity.

 

2. Immigrant vs. Non-Immigrant Visa

 

The first major difference between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa is that the L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa and the EB1C visa is an immigrant visa. Because the L1 is a non-immigrant visa, it is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card. Contrarily, the EB1C visa is an immigrant classification meaning that it leads to a green card (U.S. permanent residence). This is a major difference. Keep in mind, the L1 visa possibly be converted to an EB1C visa at some time in the future. We will discuss this later in this article.

 

3. Work Authorization

 

Another major difference between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa has to do with the type of work authorization that is permitted. With an L1 visa, you are only authorized to work for your U.S. company petitioner. However, with once you enter the U.S. on an EB1C visa or you complete an adjustment of status through EB1C, you become a permanent resident. As a U.S. permanent resident, you are authorized to work in the U.S. in any lawful capacity. You are not limited to working for you U.S. company petitioner. You are free to work for any company in the U.S.

 

4. Duration

 

Another major difference between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa is the duration of stay that is authorized under both categories. As mentioned above, the L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa whereas the EB1C visa an immigrant visa. The L1 visa has a maximum duration of 5 years for L1B and 7 years for L1A. However, the EB1C visa leads to a U.S. green card which can continue to be renewed without any limit.

 

5. Specialized Knowledge Position Vs. Managerial/Executive Position

 

The L1 visa is broken into 2 categories: L1A and L1B. You are classified under the L1A category if you will be working for the U.S. petitioner in a managerial or executive capacity. You are classified under the L1B category if you will be working for the U.S. petitioner in a specialized knowledge capacity.

 

Unlike the L1 visa, the EB1C visa does not have a “specialized knowledge” option. In order to qualify for an EB1C visa, you must be coming to the U.S. to work in a managerial or executive capacity.

 

Another main difference has to do with your employment for the foreign company. Under the L1 visa, you may qualify if your employment for the foreign company was in specialized knowledge capacity or if your employment for the foreign company was in a managerial or executive capacity. This is not the case for the EB1C visa. To qualify for an EB1C visa, your employment for the foreign employer must have been in a managerial or executive capacity. If you worked for the foreign employer in a specialized knowledge capacity, this does not qualify for an EB1C visa.

 

6. New Office vs. Existing Office

 

Another major difference between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa has to do with the length of time the U.S. company has been operational. The L1 visa has a special option for new offices. Under the L1 visa, a foreign company can transfer an employee to come to the U.S. to work for a brand-new office. This is not allowed under the EB1C visa. To qualify for an EB1C visa, the U.S. company must be operational for at least 1 year before petitioning on behalf of the EB1C visa beneficiary.

 

7. Higher Standard of Adjudication for EB1C

 

Another difference between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa has to do with the standard of adjudication between each of these visas. The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa whereas the EB1C visa is an immigrant category which leads to a green card.

 

Because getting an EB1C visa results in a much higher benefit (U.S. permanent residence) there is a higher standard of review than there is for an L1 visa. Even though many of the requirements are similar between L1 and EB1C, this does not mean that someone will automatically get approved for an EB1C visa just because their L1 petition was approved. This is because there is a higher, more strict level of review for an EB1C petition. Please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com to discuss what you can do to strengthen your EB1C case prior to filing.

 

8. Converting from L1 to EB1C

 

Now that you have read the above similarities and differences between the L1 visa and the EB1C visa, you may be wondering if it is possible to convert your L1 visa to an EB1C visa. The answer is yes. For a much more detailed explanation of how to do this, you can read my guide on how to go from an L1 visa to green card.

 

To provide a quick summary, here are some things you must make sure to watch out for when converting L1 to EB1C:

 

  • Foreign employment: To switch from an L1 visa to green card, you must make sure that your employment for the foreign company was in a managerial or executive capacity. If you worked in a specialized knowledge capacity for the foreign company, you may encounter difficulties when trying to convert to an EB1C visa. This is because, for an EB1C visa, your employment for the foreign company must be in a managerial or executive capacity.

 

  • U.S. Company: Another important thing to look out for is to make sure that the U.S. company has been operational for at least a year. Unlike the L1 visa, the EB1C visa requires that the U.S. company be operational for at least 1 year before you apply for the EB1C visa. It is not enough that the company was established more than a year ago. The U.S. company must have been conducting business activities for at least 1 year.

 

9. Conclusion

 

The L1 visa and EB1C visa are both extremely good options to come the U.S. if you are an entrepreneur, investor, or high-level manager/executive. Both of these visas have many benefits and many similarities. At the same time, the L1 visa and EB1C visa have several differences. You should now have a much better understanding of the differences between these two visa categories.

 

If you have any questions, or if you need help with your L1 or EB1C visa, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I would be happy to help you.

 

Resources

 

 

 

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