As a specialized employee in the United States, you are most likely an L-1B non-immigrant visa holder. You are a professional in your field with the knowledge that supports your business abroad and in the U.S. Even though your visa is a temporary one, you can transition from an L-1B to a green card and become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) by following the steps discussed below.
L-1 visas are non-immigrant visas for intracompany transferees. The visa allows executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge to come to the United States to work for a limited period. The L-1 visa lets employees move from foreign branches or affiliates of their company to the U.S. All L visas are petitioned for by the U.S. employer, asking United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permission for you, a qualified employee, to work for the United States branch of the company.
One of the most pertinent features of L-1 visas is their dual intent. Most temporary visas, also known as non-immigrant visas, require their holders to prove that they’re only here temporarily and not for the purpose of becoming permanent residents.
L-1 visas, however, allow for dual intent, meaning that even though you are in the United States on a temporary visa, you can apply for a green card. Whether you are applying from L-1A or L-1B to green card status, both visas have dual intent.
There are two types of L-1 Visas, both for temporary workers, but for different reasons:
An L-1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa made explicitly for employees who hold specialized knowledge for their company. The intent is for the employee’s professional, specified skills to transfer from one organization’s foreign office to an affiliated office in the U.S.
An L-1B visa can be petitioned for if your specialized skills can be used to assist in establishing a U.S. branch of the foreign office.
Specialized knowledge includes any expertise regarding a product, service, research, equipment, technical aspects, foreign affairs, or something particular to the employing company.
In order to transfer from an L-1B to green card, your employer needs to have a Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) Labor Certification so they can petition for you. Since the L-1A to EB-2 green card process utilizes a National Interest Waiver (NIW), L-1A visa holder’s employers do not need a labor certificate.
The second main difference is the maximum length of stay. L-1A visa holders can reapply for their visas for up to seven years; L-1B visa holders have a maximum stay of five years. No matter which subtype of intracompany transferee you may be, you can hold an L-1 visa, apply for a green card, and become a lawful permanent resident. The difference lies in when an L-1B visa holder can apply for a green card.
In order to be considered for an L-1 visa, your U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company and be doing business as a U.S. employer in another country while you, the beneficiary, are in the U.S.
As the person receiving the visa, you must meet a general set of qualifications for an L-1 visa. Your role as a visa-holding employee first involves:
To summarize, you must be an essential part of your company, not just have expertise in your field of work. The L-1B visa is organization-specific, making you a specialized employee.
Yes, you can go from an L-1B to a green card! In fact, there are numerous options for employment-based green cards for which you can apply as an L-1B green cardholder.
As an L-1B holder, you have numerous options for an employment-based green card. In this section, we will discuss the various options and their requirements. Working with your immigration lawyer may be useful in your decision about what immigrant visa is best for you.
An EB-2 green card is an employment-based immigration visa for second preference professionals. There are three subcategories of an EB-2 visa:
We will discuss the EB-2 NIW in the next section, as it requires a different set of steps than the other two types of EB-2 green cards.
In order to meet the Advanced Degree subcategory requirements, you must have:
To be considered for an Exceptional Ability employment-based visa, you need to:
Your immigration attorney can assist in gathering evidence to submit with your petition. We will cover the L-1B visa to green card process for EB-2 below.
The third and final subcategory of the second preference employment-based visa is an EB-2 NIW, which stands for National Interest Waiver.
To qualify for an NIW, you first need to prove you are qualified for either the EB-2 advanced degree or EB-2 exceptional ability. As an employee with specialized knowledge (L-1B), you can qualify for either, depending on your specialized abilities.
The next step is to prove to USCIS that your work is necessary to the United States; your expertise needs to benefit a sector of United States society. If this is the case, you can apply to have the PERM labor certificate waived.
You need to present evidence that you not only qualify for one of the previously mentioned EB-2 visas, but also that:
If you qualify for an NIW, you can self-petition, meaning your U.S. employer does not need to file for you.
As for the L-1B to green card timeline for an EB-2 NIW, the process takes less time than a transition to either of the other two EB-2 green cards. This is because NIW expedites the visa as it surpasses the time it takes for a PERM labor certificate to get approved. This may not always be the case, but the NIW has a greater potential to be faster.
The third preference employment-based green card is entitled EB-3. This visa has three sub-categories that you may be able to qualify for as an L-1B holder:
Skilled Workers must be in a job that requires at least two years of training and/or experience. Your employment must be under the condition that qualified workers in the U.S. were unavailable for the job.
Professionals applying for an EB-3 visa must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent). Your job must also require a bachelor’s degree for an entry level position.
Unskilled/Other Workers must be able to perform work in their field, though two years of experience for the position is not required. Their job offer is also not allowed to be seasonal or temporary.
All three subcategories require:
It is typical for L-1B to green card applicants to apply for an EB-3 visa because of their specialized positions.
As an L-1B visa holder, you are more than likely going to apply for an EB-2 or EB-3 visa. Other green card options may not follow L-1B requirements, so you may not qualify for the following. However, they are green cards that you should consider speaking with your immigration attorney about. The additional L-1B to green card options include:
There are multiple steps and forms to proceed with when transitioning from your L-1B to green card. Unless applying for a NIW, your U.S. employer must be involved in your process, starting with your initial L-1B visa.
If you have not yet received your L-1B visa, you must start by having your U.S. employer petition on your behalf. They will file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Once you have your L-1B, you can stay in the United States for one year and request extensions of stay. The L-1 visa processing time for extensions of stay happens every two years. When you are ready to make the transition from an L-1B to a green card, you will then move to the next step.
A PERM labor certificate is needed to show that your employer is hiring you on the basis that no qualified U.S. employee can fill the position. PERM certificates also prove that your employer will pay you the appropriate wage for your position in your area/region.
Your employer must apply for the PERM labor certificate by using the ETA Form 9089 application. This is done through the U.S. Department of Labor. Once you have received your labor certificate, you can proceed to file for the actual green card.
Your U.S. employer must petition for you to work for them. If you are filing for an EB0-2 NIW, you can petition for yourself. In addition, you do not need a PERM certificate for the NIW application. All other employment-based immigrant green cards require the employer to file for both PERM and Form I-140.
Your employer needs to show that they can pay you the wage they offered you as of the priority date. They can show evidence through tax returns and annual reports.
When your Form I-140 is approved, your family (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old) may apply for immigrant status as well.
You can file your Form I-485 once your Form I-140’s priority date is met. You will be able to adjust your status officially to LPR and be able to live permanently in the United States.
L-1 visa to green card time depends on which route you take to get your green card. The NIW green card holders generally take less time to file for their green card, but that may not always be the case.
Each form in the L-1B to green card timeline has its own timeframe it follows, making each step dependent on the processing time of the prior form. The following are the estimated times it takes for forms to be processed, though USCIS is subject to take less or more time if need be:
The experienced immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have over 30 years of experience in immigration and naturalization law. We are here to answer any questions you have about the process to go from an L-1B visa to a green card. The L visa USA process can be complicated. We are here for you to help on your journey to becoming a green cardholder. Contact us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form today.View Similar Articles