Making the Transition from an L-1
Visa to a Green Card
The L-1 Visas are U.S. government-issued, non-immigration residency permits. L-1 Visas allow certain qualified individuals to enter and reside in the United States for a specific period of time. L-1 Visas were created specifically for intracompany transfers of current employees of businesses already located in the U.S. or, in some instances, in the process of establishing a new business branch in America.
Although L-1 Visas do not grant permanent residency, foreign nationals who have entered the U.S. via an L-1 may apply for permanent residency while holding an L-1.
The L-1 is a “dual intent” visa. In other words, there is an unspoken understanding that the visa holder is at least somewhat likely to apply for a Green Card at some point prior to the expiration of their L-1 status.
L-1 Visa Categories
To obtain an L-1 Visa, employers must file an I-129 Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign nationals whom they wish to be allowed to work legally in the U.S.
Depending on the position(s) each employer needs to fill, they may request either an L-1A or an L-1B Visa. L-1A and L-1B Visa holders who wish to become permanent residents in the U.S. may do so by requesting a status change from an L-1 Work Visa to an EB Employment Based Visa.
The L-1A Visa is available for the transfer of executives or managers of the company.
An executive is defined as a person who has a great deal of oversight and decision-making responsibility within the organization.
A manager is someone who supervises other employees and who oversees departments, subdivisions, and/or certain functions within the company.
The company in the U.S. must have a “qualifying relationship” with the company for which the employee has been working outside the U.S. A parent company, a subsidiary, a branch, or an affiliate constitute qualifying relationship.
Executives and managers of an existing business in the U.S. are typically granted an initial visa up to three years with the possibility of obtaining as many as two two-year extensions. The total possible amount of time a foreign employee may remain in the U.S. under an L-1A status is seven years.
The L-1B Visa is available to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge.
Specialized knowledge means advanced expertise vital to the employer’s research, products, services, equipment, and processes as they relate to conducting business in the international marketplace.
Employees with specialized knowledge would enjoy the initial up to three-year period of stay in the U.S.A., with possible one two-year extension. (Total duration of five years.)
Although the objective is the same, L-1A and L-1B Visa holders must follow slightly different paths to get to a permanent EB status.
L-1A to EB-1C Green Card
EB-1C visa is the option for multinational manager or executive who wants to obtain Green Card.
In order to apply under this category, you have to meet the following requirements:
|As a beneficiary, you must have been worked as a manager or executive with the foreign employer for at least one year in the three years before filing the petition, and you are entering the United States to continue work for the same employer.|
|As a petitioner, the U.S. employer must have been doing business for at least one year in the United States. This U.S. employer must be an affiliate, a subsidiary, or other legal entity of the foreign employer, for which you worked with abroad.|
Procedure to Obtain a Green Card from L-1A Status
Except in very rare cases, the employer must file for an EB-1C Visa on behalf of the L-1A visa holder using a Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker. The date the USCIS receives the I-140 becomes your “priority date.”
The visa holder may then file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status when it is allowed based on his/her “priority date”. The EB-1C is a permanent resident status visa.
I-485 Processing Time
Filing the Form I-485 for adjustment of status while in the U.S. takes an average of 10 to 12 months for processing.
An L-1A visa holder also has the option of filing in person by scheduling an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. The consular interview process can be quicker and less expensive than filing in the U.S. However, the employee should consider the additional travel expenses and other costs of returning home.
L-1B to Green Card
There are two kinds visas available for L-1B Visa holders who want to get a green card: the EB-2 and EB-3. Both of these two visas are employment-based immigration visas, but they have different requirements.
EB2 Visa Requirements
The first category is the EB-2 immigration visa. There are two situation that you should apply under this category: either your job requires you to have an advanced degree, or it requires you to have exceptional ability. The details of these two sub-categories will be explained as follows:
|Advanced Degree Sub-category: To qualify for this one, you must have a master or doctrine degree. If you don’t have such advanced degree, a bachelor’s degree plus five years’ working experience in the same filed could be considered as an equivalent.|
|Exceptional Ability Sub-category: To qualify for this one, you must have a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business. The USCIS set forth several criteria for this category, but there is no bright line rule about this category. You should discuss with your attorney to find out whether you could qualify for this or not.|
EB3 Visa Requirements
The second category is the EB-3 immigration visa. If you cannot satisfy the requirements for EB-2 visa, you may try to apply under EB-3 visa. There are also three sub-categories under EB-3: skilled workers, professionals, or other workers aka unskilled workers. These three sub-categories do not require you to have an advanced degree, but they are require that there is not available qualified worker here in the United States for the job you will do. This basically means that there is not enough worker in the United States, so you have to come to work.
|Skilled Workers: To qualify for this one, you must have at least two years of job experience or training.|
|Professionals: To qualify for this one, you must have a bachelor’s degree, and the job you are going to do usually requires a bachelor’s degree.|
|Other Workers aka Unskilled Workers: To qualify for this one, you must be capable of performing unskilled work, which cannot have a temporary or seasonal nature. Basically, it means that you cannot be a migrant for this sub-category.|
Procedure to Get a Green Card from L-1B Status
Requests for L-1B Visa are originated by the employer on behalf of the hopeful immigrant just as with they would for an L-1A candidate. In either case, the employer begins the process by filing a Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
L-1B Visa holders must obtain a PERM Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, an additional step not required for L-1A holder to become eligible for an employment-based immigration visa. This requires the employer to follow a specific recruitment process to ensure that no qualified U.S. workers are available to fill the position and that you are going to be paid the prevailing wage for that job in the part of the country where the company is located.
Typically, the best employment-based immigration visas for L-1B holders are the EB-2 or the EB-3, depending on the individual situation.
Because the EB-2 Visa was created for people who hold an advanced degree or possess exceptional abilities, the stakeholders must prove that the candidate has those qualifications and that the job requires them.
The EB-3 Visa was designed for the benefit of candidates with bachelor’s degrees regardless of skill level.
Obtaining the PERM Labor Certification adds time to the process. Careful planning including moving forward upon a legitimate offer relieves the stakeholders of unnecessary stress during the wait time for the lengthier process.
Once the PERM has been approved, the employer may file the I-140 Immigration Petition for Alien Worker. The date the USCIS receives the I-140 becomes your “priority date.” Once the USCIS monthly bulletin identifies a petitioner’s priority date as current, the employee may file the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status.
Green Card for Dependents of L-1A and L-1B
An applicant’s spouse and their minor-age, unmarried children are eligible for an L-2 visa. An L-2 is valid for the same duration of stay as the spouse/parent holding either L-1A or L-1B Visa.
Spouses on L-2 Visas are allowed to work in the open job market in the U.S. after filing an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with the USCIS and getting it granted.
Dependent children may not obtain an EAD under the L-2 status. However, they may attend school either part or full-time.
Each dependent of the employee requesting employment-based immigration should file a separate I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status as a “derivative applicant” along with the L-1 Visa holder’s application.
How Immigration Attorneys of ACS Law Offices, Inc. Can Help to get a Green Card
The U.S. Immigration Laws are complex. No person or business should attempt to navigate the process without expert legal advice. There are many ways to get lost in the system, but there are also many ways an expert Immigration Attorney can leverage the system to the advantage of their clients. That’s the role of ACS Law Offices, Inc.
Each form that is filed must be accompanied by other forms and documentation, none of which can be missing, inaccurate, or incomplete. In addition, forms and applications require processing fees at the time of filing. If any information (including fees) is missing, inaccurate, or incomplete, the likelihood of achieving either nonimmigrant working status or permanent residency is greatly reduced.
The ACS Law Offices, Inc. experienced legal team advises and assists visa applicants through the entire process efficiently and expediently. Our interest is your best interest. Our integrity is your assurance that we will help you find the best route to living legally in the United States so that your immigration dreams can come true.