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:
Key points about L-1 visas:
- 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 $2,500 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: $460
- Premium Processing Fee (Optional): you can opt for premium processing by paying an additional fee of $2,500. USCIS aimed to process the extension application within 15 calendar days.
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500 (only if requesting change of employer)
- Pub. L. 114-113 Fee: $4,500 (only the companies that employ 50 or more employees in the U.S. if more than 50 percent of these employees are in H-1B, L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrant status). For exceptions, visit USCIS website.
- 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:
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||
|Form I-129 filing fee||
|Letter of support from the U.S. employer||
|Evidence the employee has maintained lawful status||
|Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and foreign company||Foreign company documentation:
U.S. company documentation:
|Evidence of Beneficiary’s Qualifications||
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.