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L-1 Visa: Differences between L-1A and L-1B

It may be beneficial to consider the differences between the L-1A and L-1B visas when making the determination of which would be better for you. If you have questions about the L-1 visa and would like to consult with an attorney, contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience in a wide variety of complex and immigration law matters.

Period of stay

L-1A visa status can be valid up to a maximum of seven years, while the maximum limit for L-1B status is five years. In certain cases, these maximum periods of stay can be extended when employment is part-time, intermittent, seasonal, or when physical US presence is an aggregate of less than six months per year.

L-1A manager category provides for easier EB-1 pathway to green card

An L-1A employee who worked for the foreign employer abroad, in the manager capacity, for at least one consecutive year during the three-year period prior to the date of his or her US admission, may qualify to file an employment-based first preference (EB-1) green card application. The EB-1 category does not require an approved labor certification from the US Department of Labor, so the sponsor may immediately file the I-140 petition.

USDOL labor certification

The L-1B visa worker will generally need an approved PERM labor certification before filing the I-140 immigrant visa petition, unless the worker otherwise qualifies for an EB-1 category or qualifies for national interest waiver. Labor certification process is required in order to ensure US workers will not be displaced as a result of the worker’s permanent residence in the United States. Labor certification adds a significant amount of time to the overall green card process of up to a year or more.

Priority date retrogression

The numbers of employment-based immigration visas that are available each year are limited by quota based upon the worker’s home country. While the EB-1 category may have little or no wait, the EB-2 and EB-3 categories may be significantly backlogged, especially for those workers who were born in China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines.

An approved I-140 petition will contain a priority date. The priority date is an indication of how big the backlog is, and how long the worker must wait for a visa to become available. If the priority date is current, then there is no wait, and the I-485 green card application may be filed immediately. If the priority date is not current, then there is a backlog. For example, a priority date of January 1, 2009 means visas are now available for those who filed an I-140 petition before that date.

While planning the L-1B petition, the employer may discover that the employee is also eligible to file a petition for an L-1A manager visa as well. Even in cases where the L-1B worker has sufficient manager or function manager experience and is promoted to a managerial position, the employer may file an amended L-1A petition in order to avoid the labor certification required for the green card, and avoid retrogression. If you would like further information about the L-1 visa or any other immigration matter, please contact our immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA to schedule a consultation with an attorney at an office near you.

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