In-Depth Comparison: L1A vs. L1B Visas

What is the L1A Visa?

In-Depth Comparison: L1A vs. L1B Visas

L1A visas are created especially for managers and executives of international companies. With this visa, these senior staff members can move from an international office to a U.S. office. Up to seven years may be added to the initial three-year validity of the L1A visa in intervals of two years. Companies that must move their senior management to supervise activities in the US would find great benefit from this kind of visa.

Definition of the L1B Visa

Specialized knowledge in the products, services, research, systems, or management of the organization allows an employee for an L1B visa. The operations of the company depend on these workers, who also have knowledge that is hard to come by in the American labor market. Initially valid for up to three years, the L1B visa can be extended once for a maximum of five years.

Main Variations between L1A and L1B Visas

Companies determining which employees to transfer and employees knowing their eligibility and benefits depend on their knowledge of the primary differences between the L1A and L1B visas.

Also Read: E-1/E-2 Visas

Role and Responsibility

  • L1A Visa: This visa is intended for managers and executives who are responsible for important business divisions or supervise the main operations of the company. In charge of leading the company, executives and managers decide on major policies and manage other staff members.
  • L1B visa: This visa is meant for workers whose specialist knowledge is needed for the operations of the business. This information can have a bearing on the systems, research, products, services, or speciality methods of the business.


  • L1A Visa: This visa permits a three-year initial stay and extensions of up to seven years in the United States.
  • L1B Visa: Initially good for up to three years, the L1B visa can be extended once to a maximum of five years.

The Green Card Path

  • L1A Visa: This visa offers an easier, labor-free path to a green card under the EB-1C category. For holders of L1A visas, this speeds up and simplifies the green card application procedure.
  • L1B Visa: Generally speaking, labour certification is part of the more involved process for the L1B visa under the EB-2 or EB-3 categories. This procedure can be more drawn out and complex.

L1A and L1B Visa Benefits

Benefits from both L1A and L1B visas are considerable for employees of multinational companies.

Benefits of the L1A Visa

  • Extended Period: Staying for up to seven years is a big benefit for long-term goals and leadership positions.
  • Flexibility: Managers and executives can move between U.S. offices without the requirement for a new visa petition; the EB-1C category offers a quicker and simpler path to permanent residency.

L1B Visa Benefits

  • Specialized Knowledge: Businesses could move staff members who own unique and necessary information for their business.
  • Dual Intent: Employers have greater freedom with L1B visas because they are not subject to an annual cap, unlike H1B visas, which allow holders to apply for a green card without risking their non-immigrant status.

Processing of L1A and L1B Visa Applications

Application procedures for L1A and L1B visas are multi-step. A good application depends on knowing these stages.

Applying for an L1A Visa

  1. Employer Petition: The U.S. employer must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the USCIS together with documentation proving to the executive or managerial nature of the role and the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and offices abroad.
  2. Approval and Consular Processing: The employee must apply for the L1A visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country, presenting all necessary paperwork and going to a visa interview, if the petition is granted.
  3. Arrival in the United States: The worker may enter the country and start working as an executive or manager after receiving permission.

Applying for an L1B Visa

  1. Employer Petition: The USCIS must receive Form I-129 from the US employer showing the employee’s specialized expertise and the qualifying link between the US and abroad offices.
  2. Acceptance and Consular Processing: After petition acceptance, the worker applies for the L1B visa at an embassy or consulate in the United States, bringing the necessary paperwork and showing up for a visa interview.
  3. Arrival to the United States: The worker may enter the country to carry out their specialized knowledge role after being permitted.

Converting L1B to L1A

Workers who are first granted an L1B visa have the choice to switch to an L1A visa. Filing a new petition with the USCIS proving the employee has been raised to a managerial or executive position is the first step in the L1B to L1A transfer procedure. The worker’s stay in the country may be extended and the process of obtaining a green card is simplified by this conversion.

Green Card Pathways

Though the procedures are different, holders of L1A and L1B visas can both apply for green cards.

L1A to a Green Card

An easier path to an EB-1C green card is offered by the L1A visa.

  1. Form I-140 Petition: First, the employer submits Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
  2. Adjustment of Status: Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is filed by the employee if the priority date is current.

Usually, the L1A to green card process takes less time because the EB-1C category does not need labor certification.

Green Card, L1B

Generally speaking, the L1B visa to green card process belongs to the EB-2 or EB-3 category and consists of the following phases:

  1. Labor Certification (PERM): The company has to prove that there aren’t any qualified Americans for the job.
  2. Form I-140 Petition: The employer submits Form I-140 once they get labor certification.
  3. Status Adjustment: When the priority date is at hand, the employee submits Form I-485.

The labor certification need can make the processing time from L1B to green card longer.

Comparing L1 Visas with H1B Visa

The L1 and H1B visas have diverse uses and provide different advantages, hence it is important to know the differences between them.

Visas L1A and H1B

  • Eligibility: Specialty professional workers who may work for any U.S. firm are eligible for the H1B visa; executives and managers working for the same company are eligible for the L1A visa.
  • Length: Six years is the maximum stay permitted by the H1B visa, seven years by the L1A visa.
  • Green Card Pathway: Whereas an H1B visa frequently needs labor certification under EB-2 or EB-3, the L1A visa provides a more simple way to a green card under the EB-1C category.

Visas L1B and H1B

  • Specialized Knowledge vs. Specialty Occupation: Workers in speciality professions across many industries are eligible for the H1B visa; employees with specialized knowledge within the same organization are eligible for the L1B visa.
  • Validity: Up to five years are granted for the L1B visa and up to six years for the H1B visa.
  • Cap and Lottery: The H1B visa is subject to an annual cap and lottery, but the L1B visa is not.

Benefits of L1 Visas Over H1B Visa

Different benefits of L1 visas over H1B visas include:

  • No Cap: Employers have greater freedom because L1 visas are not subject to the yearly cap or lottery.
  • Dual Intent: Holders of both L1A and L1B visas are permitted to obtain permanent residency without risking their non-immigrant status, or dual intent.
  • Internal Transfers: L1 visas allow important employees of international companies to shift between offices without any problems.

Final Thought

Employees and international businesses alike must be aware of the differences between the L1A and L1B visas. Every kind of visa has special advantages and serves different objectives. The L1 visa category offers great prospects whether you want to move important staff, prolong their stay, or apply for a green card. With the knowledgeable advice of Passage Law, you may successfully negotiate these challenges and achieve your immigration objectives. For professional and experienced assistance with your L1 visa requirements, contact us at Passage Law as we are ready to help you throughout the procedure.


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