Both the L1-B and L1-A visas are non-immigrant employment-based visas that allow a foreign national to live and work in the United States for a defined time period. At the expiration of the visa, the foreign national must new grounds for remaining in the United States or he or she must return to their home country. However, for many foreign nationals working in the United States their L1-A status may expire prior to the completion of their project or job duties in the United States. These or other circumstances may lead a foreign national to consider whether his or her L-1B Status could be converted to L1-A visa status such that the individual can continue to live and work in the United States. While a conversion is possible, the likelihood for success is based on the characteristics of the individual and whether they can satisfy the L1- visa requirements.
Employee Qualifications for an L1-B Visa
Individuals who receive authorization to live and work in the United States on the basis of an L1-B visa are approved because they have certain specialized knowledge relating to the company or organization’s interests. To qualify for the visa the employer and the employee must meet certain qualifications. Qualifications the employee must meet include:
- The employee must have had an employment relationship with a qualifying foreign employer for a minimum of one continuous year over the course of the previous three years.
- Have the intent to enter the United States for the purposes of providing specialized knowledge to one of the qualifying organizations U.S.-based branches.
Specialized knowledge includes particularized knowledge regarding a company or organization’s practices, products, services, techniques, management, and other interests. The maximum limit on a stay for an L1-B visa is five years although one would be required to renew their visa to reach that duration of stay.
Employee Qualifications for an L1-A Visa
The L1-A bears many similarities to the L1-B visa, but the basis for granting the visa differs. Rather than permitting companies and organizations to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge, the L1-A permits the transfer of company executives and managers. For the employee to qualify, two main qualifications must be met:
- The manager or executive must have worked for the qualifying business or organization for at least one continuous year over the past three years.
- The foreign national must intend to work in a managerial or executive position for the business.
Managerial capacity is defined as the employee’s ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees. Additionally, the definition can also include efforts to manage an organization or a particular division or subsidiary of an organization. Finally, managerial capacity can also include the independent, high-level management of essential organizational functions. Executive capacity includes the employee’s ability to make decisions with broad implications with little to no oversight.
How can an L1-B Visa be Converted to an L1-A Visa?
While every immigration situation is unique and dependent on its own facts and circumstances, a change of status from L1-B to L1-A can typically be approved as long as the employee is promoted to a managerial or executive position a minimum of six months prior to the expiration of the total five year limit on a L1-B visa authorization. Due to the five year maximum stay on an L1-B visa it is essential to know if the individual has spent time physically outside of the borders of the united States because that time can be added on to the total. Ideally it is recommended that one file their petition as soon as possible and with premium processing. This is because while an immigrant is authorized to remain in the United States when an immigration petition is pending, if the petition is denied and the authorization to stay has lapsed the individual will be unlawfully within the borders of the United States. While submitting one’s petition in a timely manner can avoid the inconvenience of having to leave the country, one should never remain in the United States beyond what their visa authorizes. Unlawful presence in the United States can further complicate one’s immigration situation.
Rely on our Miami Employment Visa Lawyers
The experienced Miami immigration attorneys of Colombo & Hurd take a meticulous and strategic approach to all immigration matters. We can provide guidance to employers and individuals. To schedule an initial immigration law consultation call our firm at 800-659-7142 or contact us online today.