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Mevorah Law Offices LLC
630-932-9100
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What is the Difference Between an H1B Visa and an L1 Visa?

Posted on in Immigration
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DuPage County immigration lawyers, h1b-visa, l1-visaWhen a person comes to the United States for work purposes, he or she may utilize either an H1B visa or an L1 visa, depending on the nature of his or her work and the specifics of his or her time in the country. However, given the similar nature of these visas, it is not uncommon for an individual to become confused as to which one is best for his or her situation.

While most of the time, an incorrect visa application will simply be denied by the relevant authorities, in rare cases it can get an applicant into trouble if fraud is suspected. It is best to simply be well aware of which visa best fits your situation the first time around.

H1B Visas

While both types of visas must be applied for not by the worker, but by the U.S.-based employer, and both permit dual intent (that is, a holder may have or develop the intent to immigrate without jeopardizing the visa itself), the similarities end there.

An H1B is designed for a worker with no prior relationship with a U.S. company, and it must be requested in advance by the company planning to employ the worker—the worker cannot simply show up at the border. The visa must be applied for far in advance, usually, because unlike L visas, H1Bs are subject to a yearly cap of 65,000, with no room for exceptions afterward.

H1B holders must also hold specific positions within their companies. They must be on the company payroll at all times, and they must be paid either the actual or the prevailing wage in their field, while the requirements for L1 holders are markedly more lax. Department of Labor (DoL) certification is also required; this certifies that no U.S.-born worker could perform the same job as well or better.

L1 Visas

Compared to the flexible H1B visa, an L1 is designed for those who have spent many years with one company and wish to continue doing so. L1 work visas are applied for by foreign companies who wish to transfer workers between branches (most often, from a foreign branch to a U.S.-based branch). No DoL certification is required, and there is no wage requirement since an L1 worker is still technically an agent of a foreign corporation. It is important to understand this, because many companies have no U.S.-based branches, and as such, L1 visas are not an option for their workers.

The other important factor is that L2 holders, which is the visa granted to spouses of L1 holders, are able to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) and work in the United States, while in most situations, the spouses of H1B holders (usually H4 holders) are not permitted to do so. In February 2015, the right to apply for EADs was granted to a small portion of the H4 holders in country, but not every H4 holder may do so.

Ask an Attorney for Help

Deciding which visa is the right one for you means balancing many different factors. If you need help deciding which to ask your employer to apply for, or if you fear that a mistake has been made, it is best to consult an experienced U.S. immigration attorney. The dedicated DuPage County immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to help explain the process to you and offer advice to help you make a decision. Contact us today at 630-932-9100 or via our website to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2016-cap-season

https://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/h-1b-specialty-occupation/understanding-h-1b-requirements

https://www.uscis.gov/news/dhs-extends-eligibility-employment-authorization-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses-h-1b-nonimmigrants-seeking-employment-based-lawful-permanent-residence

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