The L1 Visa is an intracompany transfer visa that allows companies to transfer employees to the United States with the purpose of developing operations in the US by opening a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate office.
Eligible L1 employees may obtain one of two L1 visa categories: L1A or L1B. The information below provides a breakdown of the two L1 visa categories and details about the difference between L1A and L1B visas, helping you better understand L1A vs L1B and which visa is more suitable for you or your employees.
L1 Visa Types
Foreign employees eligible for L1 visas will be granted either an L1A or L1B visa.
- The L1A visa is for managers and executives.
- The L1B visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge.
L1A vs. L1B Qualifications
Employees eligible for L1A visa:
- Manage an organization, subdivision, department or component of the organization;
- Control and supervise the work of other professional, managerial, or supervisory employees, or manage essential functions with the company, department or subdivision;
- Have the authority to fire and hire, recommend promotions; if no employee supervision is required, then he or she must function at the senior level within the organizationâ€™s hierarchy;
- Exercise discretion over daily operations and establish policies and goals.
Employees eligible for the L1B visa:
- Possess unique or special knowledge of the appealing organizationâ€™s service, research, product, techniques, management, equipment or interests and application in international marketplaces, or an advanced knowledge level, or expertise in the firmâ€™s procedures and processes.
L1A vs. L1B Validity Period
The L1A visa is granted for a period of 1 year for new, start-up companies and 3 years for existing companies. L1A employees may be granted L1A visa extensions of 2 year increments for up to 7 years.
The L1B visa is granted for a period of 1 year for new companies and 3 years for existing companies. L1B employees may be granted L1B visa extensions of 2 year increments for up to 5 years.
L1A vs. L1B Eligibility for Permanent Residency
L1A visa holders may file for a Green Card in the EB1 category. They can avoid completing the Permanent Labor Certification and often receive their Green Card within 1 year.
L1B visa holders may apply for permanent residency but must also apply for labor certification. This process requires the employer to prove that there are no U.S. workers who are qualified to fill the L1B employeeâ€™s position, so the green card is filed under EB2 category and may take several years to be processed.
L1B to L1A Conversion
L1B visa is allotted a maximum stay of 5 years while L1A is allotted 7 years. The L1A visa petition must be approved before completing 4.5 years on the L1B visa. The applicant must be eligible to receive the L1A on his own.
L1A and L1B Similarities
The comparisons between L1A and L1B visas include the following.
Spouses and children under 21 of both L1A and L1B visa holders may accompany them to the US on a dependent L2 Visa. L2 visa holders may apply for an Employment Authorization Document and work in the United States.
Department of Labor Approval
Neither the L1A or L1B visa requires approval from the Department of Labor since both L1 visa types require specialized workers.