If you possess special skills within your professional field, you may be eligible for an H1B or L1 visa. Both visas are excellent options for companies who wish to hire experienced foreign workers. If you are already in the U.S. under an L1 visa and you wish to change your status to H1B, there are a few options available to you. In the information below, we’ll go over the differences between the two visas, the advantages of an L1 to H1B change of status, and how you can go about that process.
Differences and Similarities Between L1 and H1B
If you’re seeking an L1 to H1B change of status, there are some factors that will remain the same once you receive your new visa. The similarities between L1 and H1B status include:
- Because of dual intent, you do not need to prove ties to your country of citizenship in order to apply for a green card from your L1 or H1B visa status.
- L1 and H1B both offer premium processing for a fee of $1255 USD. This ensures that your case will be reviewed by USCIS within 15 days of being received. If USCIS asks for any additional paperwork, such as an RFE (Request for Evidence), the 15 day period will begin after those documents are received.
While some aspects of the L1 and H1B visa are the same, there are some differences as well. These differences include:
- Unlike the H1B visa which allows for only 85,000 visas per year, there is no annual cap on the number of issued L1 visas.
- The L1 visa does not require a specific degree. However, H1B visa holders are required to hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher in addition to specialized knowledge in their field.
- If granted a three year extension, H1B holders may stay in the U.S. for up to six years. L1 visa holders may stay in the U.S. for up to seven years.
- If you have an L1 visa, your spouse may be eligible to work in the U.S. as well.
- For the L1 visa, sponsoring employers do not need to file a Labor Condition application.
Advantages of L1 to H1B Change of Status
If you you wish to change your status from L1 to H1B, there are a variety of advantages. For starters, the L1 to H1B process is much easier compared to other change of status options. Also, if you do apply for H1B status and you are denied, you may still remain in the U.S. for the duration of your L1 status.
Finally, H1B offers more flexibility when changing jobs. The L1 visa does not allow you to work for any other company than the one through which you applied for your visa. Conversely, you may change positions with the H1B visa--it is important to note that you are required to alert USCIS of your employment change prior to your last day.
How to Apply for L1A to H1B Change of Status
Before you can apply for a change of status, you must first find a qualified employer to sponsor your H1B status. Your employer will need to include the following with your application:
- Job title and description
- Proposed salary
- Federal Tax ID number
- Minimum requirements for the position
- Name and title of person filling the position
- Name and address of the company
- Brochures and other informational resources about the company
- Completed visa filing forms and fees
Additionally, your potential employer will need to file a Labor Certification Application. If approved by the DOL (Department of Labor), you must then send Form I-129 (Experience and Employment Agreements) to USCIS.
Once your L1A and L1B to H1B change of status is approved by USCIS, you may begin work in October of that same year. If your change of status is denied, you may continue to work in the U.S. only until your L1 visa expires.
Consulting an Immigration Attorney
While the L1A and L1B to H1B change of status may be simpler than others, there are still many caveats that require special knowledge and attention to detail. A competent and experienced immigration lawyer can be a valuable asset throughout this process. For more information on H1B visas and other immigration information, contact the experts at Katz Law Office, Ltd. today for a free consultation.
None of the advice contained in these materials serves as a substitute for individualized legal representation by a licensed attorney with experience in the practice area.