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L-1B Visa Questions

What is an L-1B visa?

The L-1B is a non-immigrant classification which facilitates a U.S. employer to proceed with an intra-company transfer of a professional with specialized skills from an affiliated foreign office to one of the company’s offices in the United States. This visa is also issued to employees with specialized skills who are sent to set up offices in the U.S. for those companies that have yet to create a presence in the U.S. The employer needs to fill out Form I-129, the petition for a non-immigrant worker, on behalf of the employee.

I came to the U.S. on an L-1B visa as a lead engineer. I was promoted to a manager position with people reporting into me. Can I convert from an L-1B to an L-1A visa?

You are allowed to convert from L-1B to L-1A since you are working in a managerial role. However all L-1A’s may not qualify for EB-1 because the EB-1 visa requires you to have worked outside the U.S. in a managerial role, and you are taking on a similar role in the U.S.

My L-1B visa extension was rejected. I have applied for a L-2 visa based on my wife’s L-1B visa. Can I remain in the U.S. while my L-2 decision is pending?

You have the option to appeal the L-1B rejection. You are in legal status while this appeal is pending. You are also in legal status while your L-2 visa is pending. The key is that the L-2 petition should have been filed before the L-1B rejection. If this was not done, you are out of status immediately after rejection of L-1B extension.

My L-1B visa is valid for about four of months from now whereas my I-94 is valid for another three years. Can I continue working legally in the U.S.? Could there be any hurdles with regard to future visa or Green Card processing?

A visa is a document needed to gain entry into the United States. Form I-94 is the document that legally allows you to remain in the U.S and work as well. Hence, as long as Form I-94 is valid, you can remain in the U.S. legally and work legally as well. This should not affect any future visa application or Green Card processing.

Does a L-1B visa applicant need to have a specialized role? If the customs official denies the visa, would it have a negative effect on my record? Can I apply for jobs with different companies?

With respect to an L-1B visa, there is a requirement that the role or job needs to be specialized. Any acceptance or denial is filed in your personal record which is permanent. However, if you apply for another visa and you qualify in that category, denial of an L-1B visa may not adversely affect your status. Many L-1B visas are not issued easily since customs needs to be convinced that you are better suited or more skilled to do a particular job compared to a U.S. worker. If this can be proved and explained, you may be granted an L-1B visa.

Applying for jobs outside your current company would disqualify you from L visa eligibility. The key factor that would improve your chances would be if the job requires a bachelor’s degree and you have a related bachelor degree or its equivalent.

I am currently on an L-1B visa and want to quit my job. If I do not stay longer than six months will I be considered illegal if I stay? Can I switch my status from L-1 to B-2 during this time? Am I eligible for the visa waiver program (VWP) if I overstay for four months?

Once you quit the company through which you have received an L-1B visa, you are out of status and start to accumulate unlawful presence. There is no grace period. The USCIS usually will overlook a maximum of about ten days of overstay in order to allow you to settle any pending affairs. If you accrue up to six months of unlawful presence you may face a three year ban to re-enter the U.S. once you leave or if you are deported. Even if you are not banned your extended stay will affect your immigration benefits in the future. The visa officer will consider you as a potential risk in the future.

There is a possibility to change the status from L-1 to B-2 provided this is done prior to leaving the job/company. You are not required to wait for the B-2 visa approval to quit the company but you will need to take on the risk that if the B-2 visa is denied, you are out of status after the expiry, or the end of validity of the L-1B visa. Overstaying disqualifies you from the VWP at least for the near future as you would fall into the high risk category.

The L-1B visa provides a platform to be transferred and work in the U.S. or set up an office. L-1B visa applicants usually possess special skill or knowledge and the company is dependent on their expertise for the organization’s interests and benefits. This visa could provide an overview of the U.S. and the possibility of a future there. Legal guidance may prove useful to know your rights and options.
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