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Temporary USA L1 Visa_Desktop

USA L1 Visa: A Great Option For Employers

(And Employees)

Learn about the USA L1 visa, designed for transferring employees to U.S. branches of multinational companies. Eligible for managers, executives, and specialized knowledge workers with at least one year of prior employment.

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The L1 visa offers a robust immigration avenue for individuals seeking to reside and work in the USA. It enables foreign businesses to relocate specific employees to a US branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company.

What is the L1 Visa?


The L1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is designed for foreign companies to transfer key personnel, such as managers, executives, or those with specialised knowledge, to a US-based branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate.

This visa comes in two types:

  • L1A for managers and executives
  • L1B for those with specialized knowledge

The L1 visa cannot be self-petitioned. Instead, the US company must file for the employee, who is considered the beneficiary.

The L1 visa permits extended stays and work in the US. It also extends immigration benefits to the visa holder's spouse and children.

Benefits of L1 Visa

  • An L1 visa grants authorization to reside and work in the USA.
  • The L1A visa is for managers and executives. It has an initial duration of 3 years, possibly extending it up to 7 years.
  • The L1B visa caters to individuals with specialized knowledge. It initially grants a 3-year validity and can be extended to 5 years.
  • The L1 visa permits dual intent, allowing temporary stay with potential future immigration. Unlike certain visas such as the B1/B2 visitor visa, which necessitate non-immigrant intent.
  • The L1 visa needs more specific wage requirements. But, the employer must comply with state and federal minimum wage laws.
  • Approval of an L1 visa extends immigration benefits to the applicant's family. It includes spouse and unmarried children under 21. This grants them L2 status with employment and educational opportunities.
  • Premium processing, available for the L1 visa, expedites petition processing within 15 days. This service requires an additional fee of $2,500.
  • Unlike visas like the H-1B, the L1 visa is not subject to an annual issuance limit.

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Types of L1 Visa

There are two types of L-1 visas:

This allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from a foreign office to a U.S. office. It also lets foreign companies send an executive or manager to the U.S. to establish a new office. The employer must file Form I-129 with a fee for the employee.
This allows a U.S. employer to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge from a foreign office to a U.S. office. It also lets foreign companies send a specialized knowledge employee to the U.S. to establish a new office. The employer must file Form I-129 with a fee for the employee.

Who Can Get an L-1B Visa?

The L-1B visa is for individuals with specialized knowledge within a company. They possess unique expertise in the company's products or services that are difficult to transfer to others. This knowledge typically comes from years of experience within the company and is crucial for maintaining product or service quality.

Industries such as healthcare, engineering, law, education, and academia often require specialized knowledge professionals for L-1B visa transfers. These individuals are indispensable to company operations.

L-1A Visa Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility Criteria for L-1B Visa

How long you can stay?

Employee Type

Maximum Initial Stay

Maximum Extension


1 year

Up to 6 additional years (total of 7 years)


3 years

Up to 2 additional years (total of 5 years)

Special Rules for New office L-1A managers and executives

  1. Qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company.
  2. You need to show that enough space has been acquired for the new office.
  3. You must have one year of continuous full-time employment. This should be as a manager or executive with a foreign company.
  4. Your previous managerial or executive experience is required, unlike specialized knowledge roles.
  5. The US company must commit to supporting a managerial or executive position within a year of L-1 petition approval.
  6. USCIS recognizes that new office managers or executives. Also, they are likely to be involved in daily operations.
  7. A one-year period is given to prove US company support for a managerial position.
  8. Evidence of US company support can include a business plan, office details, and financial investment. It can also include the foreign company structure.
  9. Initial status for a new office L-1A is one year. An extension is required before expiration, contingent on US company support for the managerial role.
  10. The foreign company must continue operating. It must also maintain the qualifying relationship with the US company.

Special Rules for new office L-1B specialized knowledge workers

  1. Similar qualifying relationship and space requirements as L-1A.
  2. Financial ability to pay for your services and start US operations is necessary.
  3. Including evidence of ongoing foreign company operations is helpful.
  4. Additionally, all other L-1 visa requirements apply.

The US Embassy Approves Over 1,00000 H1-B and L1 Visas

Documents Required for L1 Visa

To apply for an L-1 visa, you'll need the following documents:

  • A valid passport, valid for at least 6 months beyond the visa end date.
  • A photograph that meets the US visa Photography Requirements.
  • The DS-160 confirmation page and code.
  • Receipts confirming payment of all L1 visa fees.
  • The L1 visa interview appointment letter.
  • For individual petitions:
    • Form I-129 and one copy.
    • Form I-797.
  • For blanket petitions:
    • Form I-129S and two copies.
    • Three copies of Form I-797.
  • Letter from employer confirming your transfer and job description.
  • Proof of at least 1 year of employment with the employer in the past 3 years.
  • Letters from previous employers and contact information for supervisors.
  • Contact information from 2 coworkers from current and previous job positions.
  • Photographs of the inside and outside of your workplace.
  • Your CV or resume.

How to Apply for an L1 Visa?

  • Get a Transfer Offer: Your employer must have a US branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company. They must offer you a transfer in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position. This is the first step before starting your application.
  • File Form I-129:
    • Individual Petitions: Your employer files Form I-129 to petition for your transfer to the US. Once approved by USCIS, you'll receive Form I-797.
    • L1 Blanket Petitions: Large companies meeting certain criteria can file Form I-129S. This allows them to transfer multiple employees under one approval. The approval allows employees to start their application using Form I-797.
  • File Form DS-160: Complete Form DS-160 online. Provide details about your US intent, purpose, etc. After submission, keep the confirmation page and number.
  • Pay the L1 Visa Application Fee: The application fee is $205. Additionally, there might be extra fees based on your country. Keep receipts for all fees paid.
  • Schedule Your L1 Visa Interview: Schedule an interview at the US Embassy. You'll receive a visa interview appointment letter.
  • Submit Your L1 Visa Documents: Gather all required documents. These documents can be passport, photograph, Form I-129 or I-129S, Form DS-160 confirmation, fee receipts, and appointment letter. Submit your application with these documents.

What is the L1 Visa Cost?

Cost Item

Cost (USD)

Cost (INR)

USCIS Filing Fee (Form I-129)



USCIS Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee



Visa Application Fee for Consular Processing



Premium Processing Fee (Optional)



Public Law 114-113 Fee



What is the L1 Visa Processing Time?

The L1 visa processing time is relatively short. Individual petitions take slightly longer than blanket petitions, but the difference is minimal, it takes about 3 to 4 months from application submission to visa processing.

With premium processing, which employers can opt for, approval or denial notification can be received within 1 to 3 weeks.

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Validity of L1 Visa

Your employer determines the validity of your L1 visa when they file Form I-129, setting the contract duration. Upon visa approval, this period is specified on your Form I-94 upon entry to the US.

As your authorized period nears expiration, your employer can request an extension. If approved, your stay in the US can be prolonged.

But, there's a maximum duration for L1 visa holders. For L1A, it's 7 years, and for L1B, it's 5 years. Once you reach this limit, you can explore other options. It often leads to permanent residence in the US.

L1 Visa Extension

Visa Type

Maximum Extension Period

Maximum Total Stay


2 years

7 years


2 years

5 years



L1 Visa Extension Processing time

On average, the processing time is around 6 months, but it may extend to 8 months or longer in certain situations. This timeline applies to both regular and blanket L-1 visa extensions. This is because they involve filing the same I-129 petition.

L1 Visa to Green Card

The L1 visa, like the H-1B visa, allows for dual intent. It means holders can apply for a Green Card. And in doing so they do not need to prove intent to return to their home country after their contract ends. They can apply for a Green Card using Form I-140. They can adjust their status through employment, family connections, or other means.

Some L1 visa holders, particularly those with specialized knowledge, may qualify as priority workers for the Green Card. They could potentially get it within a year. Therefore, stating immigration intent to the US as an L1 visa applicant won't affect their application negatively.

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L1 Visa to EB1C Green Card

Transitioning from an L1 visa to an EB1C green card can be straightforward. This is especially true if you're currently working as a manager or executive in L1A status. Ensure that the US company has been in operation for at least 1 year. Also, verify that your role in the foreign company was managerial or executive.

But, if you're in L1B status as a specialized knowledge worker, the process may be more challenging. You must show that your duties in the foreign company meet the criteria for a manager or executive role. If not, obtaining EB1C approval could be difficult.

The application process involves two steps:

  • Filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker,
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

These forms can often be filed concurrently.

Apart from the EB1C option, there are alternative routes to obtain a green card from an L1 visa:

Difference Between L1 and H1B Visa


L1 Visa

H-1B Visa


Used for intra-company transfers or establishing a US branch

Employed by US companies for specialized occupations or for graduate education


Foreign company sponsoring the applicant

US-based company sponsoring the applicant

Employer Eligibility

Multinational company with US branch or new US branch

US-based organization, including small companies

Educational Requirements

No strict educational requirement

Bachelor's degree or higher required

Duration of Stay

Up to 7 years for L1A, up to 5 years for L1B

Up to 6 years

Annual Visa Cap

No cap

Cap varies annually (e.g., 65,000 visas for employees, 20,000 visas for students)

Prevailing Wage

No requirement

Employer must pay prevailing wage

Department of Labor Certification

Not required



Not permitted, requires new petition

Permitted, requires H1B visa transfer petition

Approval from DOL

Not required


Blanket Petition


Not available

L1 Visa Dependents

L1 visa holders can bring their family with them to the US. This includes their spouse and unmarried children under 21. These family members need an L2 visa to enter the US. With an L2 visa, they can do things like:

  • Get a driver's license
  • Open a bank account
  • Attend university,
  • Work by getting a special work permit called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Why Choose Kansas Overseas Careers?

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At Kansas Overseas Careers, we offer a complete solution for all your visa needs, from initial evaluation to post-visa support.

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