The L1 visa serves as a bridge for many international professionals to transfer from foreign offices to U.S. offices. If you’re an L1 visa holder considering permanent residency in the United States, this guide outlines the crucial steps involved in transitioning to a green card.
Understanding L1 Visa Categories and Their Paths to Green Card
- L1A Visa and Green Card Route:
- Visa Definition: The L1A visa is designed for multinational managers or executives.
- Green Card Process: The pathway to a green card for L1A holders is comparatively straightforward. It involves the employer filing an I-140 Petition under the EB1C employment-based immigration category.
- Requirements: Both the applicant and the petitioning employer must meet specific criteria set by USCIS for the EB1C category.
- L1B Visa to Green Card Transition:
- Visa Definition: The L1B visa is tailored for employees with specialized knowledge.
- Green Card Process: Unlike the L1A, L1B visa holders must undergo a labor certification process, known as PERM. This process is a prerequisite to applying for a green card under the EB2 or EB3 categories.
- PERM Process: The PERM process involves the U.S. Department of Labor, ensuring there are no suitable U.S. workers available for the role intended for the foreign employee.
Employer’s Role in the Green Card Process
For both L1A and L1B visa holders, the transition to a green card is employer-driven. Employers must initiate and sponsor the green card application process. Self-petitioning is generally not applicable for L1 visa holders.
- Company owners on an L1A visa may face unique challenges in transitioning to a green card.
- The EB1C route for L1A visa holders typically bypasses the labor certification process, expediting the path to permanent residency.
- The EB2 and EB3 pathways for L1B visa holders are contingent upon successful labor certification, demonstrating the absence of suitable U.S. workers for the role.
Transitioning from an L1 visa to a green card is a significant step towards permanent residency in the United States. It is vital to understand the specific processes and requirements for your visa category and work closely with your employer to ensure a successful application.
Additional Outside Resources
- L Visas (L-1A and L-1B) for Temporary Workers
- USCIS: Form I-797, Types and Functions
- L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
- I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
- I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers
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