The L1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa issued to foreign employees with specialized knowledge being transferred to their companyâ€™s US offices. An L1B individual visa is one of two L1 visa categories for intracompany transferees and allows employers to transfer foreign employees with specialized knowledge relating to the interests of the company. L-1 visas also allow employers to bring such employees to the US with the purpose of establishing a new US branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the organization.
L1B Visa Benefits
Foreign employees and sponsoring employers gain the following benefits from an L-1B visa.
- Visa holder may work, live, and travel legally within the U.S.
- Dependents of visa holder may accompany him or her to the U.S.
- L-1B visa holder may be able to apply for permanent residency.
- Allows a foreign company to establish a branch in the U.S.
L1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
To qualify for an L1B individual visa, the employee must possess specialized knowledge of the organizationâ€™s service, product, equipment, management, techniques, research, or procedures and processes. L-1B employees must also be members of their profession, including but not limited to lawyers, physicians, architects, engineers, and teachers.
The L1B employee must demonstrate advanced knowledge in his or her profession, and this knowledge must specifically relate to the business of the petitioner. Petitions must demonstrate that:
- The applicantâ€™s specialized knowledge is characterized by unusual qualifications which are not generally possessed by others; and
- The applicant possesses a higher level of knowledge and the evidence submitted must demonstrate how it is set apart from knowledge held by other employees.
L1B Visa Requirements & Eligibility
The petitioning U.S. employer must apply for the foreign employeeâ€™s L-1B visa. Therefore, both employer and employee must meet certain eligibility requirements for L-1B visa.
The foreign employee with specialized knowledge must meet the following L1B visa requirements for L1 employees.
- Employee has been working for a qualifying organization abroad for at least one continuous year within the 3 years before entering the U.S.; and
- Employee is seeking to enter the U.S. to perform services in specialized knowledge for a branch of the same organization or employer.
The qualifying employer must meet the following L1B visa requirements for employers.
- Employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, affiliate, or branch; and
- Employer is currently doing business, or will be doing business, in the U.S. and in at least one other country for the duration of the L-1B employees stay in the US.
If the employee is being transferred with the purpose of helping establish a new office in the US, the employer must demonstrate the following.
- Employer has sufficient physical premises to establish the new office; and
- Employer has financial ability to pay the employee and begin business in the U.S.
L1B Visa Application Process
Employers must file L-1B visa petitions on behalf of the employee. The L-1 petition must be filed at the service center location that has jurisdiction where the applicant will be working, or the location of the company.
Generally, the L-1B visa application process follows the below steps.
- Have employer complete and submit Form I-129 and L supplement.
- Obtain Form I-129 receipt number printed on an approved Form I-129 petition.
- Complete Form DS-160 online.
- Make an appointment for your visa interview.
- Attend visa interview, bringing along all L1 Visa Required Documents.
The final step of the L1B visa process, if your application is approved and you are issued an L1B visa, your passport will be returned to you via courier service to the visa collection or passport location specified when making your visa interview appointment.
For more details on applying for L1 visa, visit L1 Visa Application Process.
Period of Stay
L-1B visa holders are initially approved to stay and work in the U.S. for a 3-year period, and one year for a new office petitions. L-1B visas may be renewed once for a 2-year extension until the visa holder reaches the maximum 5-year limit.
L1B to L1A Conversion
L-1B visa holders may stay in the U.S. for a maximum of 5 years but may convert from L1B to L1A visa status, which increases their maximum stay to 7 years. The L-1A petition must be approved before the applicant has completed 4.5 years on their current L-1B visa.
L-1B visa is an employee specific visa, meaning that the L-1B visa holder cannot change his or her employer. However, some L1B employees may be eligible to change from L1B to H1 visa status, allowing them to change employers.
Spouses and children under 21 years of L-1B holders may accompany them to the US on an L2 visa. Learn more about the eligibility and application process for L2 Visa.