L-1 Visa Extensions

L Visa Extensions

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Last updated: April 8, 2024.

What is an L-1 visa?

An L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows intracompany transferees to temporarily work in the U.S. for a multinational company. There are two primary types of L-1 visas:

  • L-1A Visa for managers and executives
  • L-1B Visa for employees with specialized knowledgeF
  • The L-1 visa is a dual intent visa, which means that L-1 visa holders may pursue lawful permanent resident status (green card) while on L-1 status.
  • L-1 visa applicants must have been employed by the foreign company for at least one year in the previous three years before being eligible for transfer to a U.S. office. 
  • The U.S. and foreign companies must have a qualifying relationship such as parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate
  • L-1 visa holders can work in the U.S. for an initial period of up to three years
  • L-1A visa holders can extend their status for up to a maximum of seven years
  • L-1B visa holders can extend their status for up to a maximum of five years.
  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L-1 visa holders are eligible for L-2 visas, which allow them to accompany the primary L-1 visa holder to the U.S. Spouses of L-1 visa holders may apply for employment authorization (Form I-765).

In L-1 petitions, the U.S. employer is called “Petitioner” and the foreign employee is called “Beneficiary”.

Who needs to extend L-1 visa?

L-1 visa holders may need to extend their visas if they wish to continue working in the U.S. beyond the initial period granted. 

The need to extend an L-1 visa typically arises under the following circumstances:

  • Expiration of Initial L-1 Visa Period: The employer should file a Form I-129 petition with USCIS.
  • Transition to a Different Role or Position: If an L-1 visa holder changes their role or position within the same U.S. company and that change still falls under the L-1A or L-1B visa categories, they may need to seek an extension to reflect the new role. The employee will be then eligible for a 7-year period of stay rather than a 5-year period of stay. The beneficiary must have served as a manager or executive for at least 6 months prior to requesting change of status to L-1A.
  • Switching Employers: If an L-1 visa holder plans to work for a different U.S. employer, the new employer must file an L-1 petition on their behalf. This is known as an “L-1 transfer.” The new employer should file a Form I-129 petition to request an extension of the L-1 status. The employee can continue working for the new employer while the extension is pending.

How to extend L-1 visa?

Requests for L-1 status extension can be filed for up to 6 months prior to the expiration. 

Here’s a general guideline on how to extend your L-1 visa:

Step 1. Prepare Early: Start the extension process early (up to 6 months before your L-1 status expires).

Step 2: File Form I-129: U.S. employer should file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and L supplement with USCIS. Ensure all required supporting documentation is included, such as the employment offer letter and documentation demonstrating the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and foreign entities.

Step 3: Automatic employment authorization extension: L-1s who have filed a timely application to extend their status will be automatically granted 240-day extension of employment authorization.

Step 3. USCIS Processing: USCIS will review your extension application. This process may take several months. Optional Premium Processing Fee of $2,805 can be paid to expedite the USCIS review down to 15 calendar days.

Step 4. USCIS Decision: Extensions may be granted in 2-year increments. USCIS will issue a new I-94 arrival/departure record that reflects the extended status.

How much does it cost of extend L-1 visa?

Here are the common filing fees associated with an L-1 visa extension:

  • Form I-129 Filing Fee: 
    • $1,385 plus additional fees (general category)
    • $695 plus additional fees, if applicable (small employer or nonprofit)
  • Premium Processing Fee (Optional): you can opt for premium processing by paying an additional fee of $2,805. USCIS aimed to process the extension application within 15 calendar days.
  • Each fee should be submitted in a separate check or money order

Please note that immigration fees can change, and it’s essential to check the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most current fee information:

Form I-129 filing fee

Additional L-1 visa fees

Premium processing fee

L-1 visa extension checklist of required documents

Here’s a general checklist of common documents typically required for an L-1 visa extension:

Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and L Supplement
  • The form must be signed and dated
  • You can find the most recent edition of Form I-129 on the official USCIS website
  • Outdated editions of Form I-129 will be rejected by USCIS
Form I-129 filing fee
  • Form I-129 Filing Fee: 
    • $1,385 plus additional fees (general category)
    • $695 plus additional fees, if applicable (small employer or nonprofit)
  • Premium Processing Fee (Optional): $2,805
  • Each fee should be submitted in a separate check or money order
Letter of support from the U.S. employer
  • A detailed letter of support that outlines employee’s job responsibilities, qualifications of the beneficiary, the purpose of extension, and continued employment with the company
Evidence the employee has maintained lawful status
  • Initial L-1 approval notice
  • Copy of all I-797 Approval Notice(s)/Receipt Notices for Change or Extension of Nonimmigrant Status (if applicable)
  •  I-94 arrival/departure records
  • Visa stamps
Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and foreign company Foreign company documentation:

  • Incorporation Documents/Partnership or Joint Venture Agreement:
    • Articles/Memorandum of Incorporation;
    • Bylaws;
    • Stock certificates/ledger;
    • Name change/registration;
  • Applicable business permits/licenses/registration;
  • Company annual report/marketing brochure/resume;
  • Lease/deed; mortgage or rent receipts;
  • Detailed organizational chart;
  • Articles, promotional materials about the company, its products, services, or key people;
  • Recent company tax return or financial statement;
  • Copies of awards, memberships or special achievements by the company or key personnel;
  • Photographs of the inside and outside of the facilities.

U.S. company documentation:

  • Incorporation Documents/Partnership/Joint Venture Agreement;
  • Branch qualification to do business in United States or state;
  • Applicable business permits/licenses/registration;
  • Company annual report/marketing brochure/resume;
  • Latest financial statement or federal tax return (if applicable);
  • Latest Form ED941 (Employee Wages) (if applicable);
  • Information on any changes affecting corporate structure (if applicable);
  • Lease/deed; mortgage or rent receipts;
  • Detailed organizational chart;
  • Articles, promotional materials about the company, its products, services, or key people;
  • Copies of awards, memberships or special achievements by the company or key personnel;
  • Photographs of the inside and outside of the facilities.
Evidence of Beneficiary’s Qualifications
  • Employment records:
    • Pay Stubs, W-2 form(s) and Tax Returns (to demonstrate that the L-1 status holder has been working in the U.S.)
    • If beneficiary’s role or responsibilities have changed within the U.S. company, provide job offer letters, performance evaluations, or internal company memos.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae: A detailed resume or CV of the applicant, highlighting their experience and qualifications.
  • Any letters of support or endorsement from the U.S. and foreign companies, or third parties that can attest to the nature of the business relationship and the qualifications of the L-1A/L-1B applicant.

How many times can I extend my L-1 visa?

Here’s an overview of the maximum durations of stay for L-1 visa holders:

  • L-1A Visa (Managers and Executives):
    • Initial Period: L-1A visa holders are typically granted an initial period of stay in the U.S. for up to three years.
    • Extensions: L-1A visa extensions may be granted in increments of up to two years each, with a maximum total stay of seven years.
  • L-1B Visa (Specialized Knowledge Employees):
    • Initial Period: L-1B visa holders are typically granted an initial period of stay in the U.S. for up to three years.
    • Extensions: L-1B visa extensions may be granted in increments of up to two years each, with a maximum total stay of five years.

However, there are a few exceptions to maximum duration of L-1 stay in the U.S.:

  • For L-1Bs who were promoted to a managerial position, the employers must file an amended Form I-129 with USCIS at the time the change occurs. The beneficiary will then be eligible for a 7-year period of stay.
  • In certain cases, L-1A and L-1B visa holders who have been working in the U.S. in L-1 status for a total of five or seven years, respectively, may be eligible to file for an extension if they are pursuing lawful permanent residency (a green card) and meet specific criteria.
  • If you have been outside of the U.S. for one continuous year, you may be eligible to start a new period of stay with a new L-1 visa, and the maximum duration limits may reset.
  • L-1 visa holders who are employed part-time or intermittently may have their maximum duration of stay calculated differently
  • Recapturing time spent outside the U.S.: any days spent outside the U.S. may be recaptured. Submit summary of foreign travel with the dates and number of days, photocopies of passport stamps and I-94 arrival/departure records.

Related links:

L-1 Visa (Requirements, Checklist, How to Apply)

L-1A Visa For Managers and Executives

L-1B Visa for Specialized Knowledge Employees

L-1 Visa for New U.S. Offices

L Blanket Petitions