The most commonly used nonimmigrant work visas are the L-1 and H-1B visas. These visas have some things in common, but there are also quite a few differences. If you are in the process of choosing a route to the United States, it may difficult to choose which visa is right for you. If you work for a multinational corporation, then the L-1 visa is probably the most appropriate. The H-1B visa will work if you want more flexibility in your job.
The L-1 visa is also known as the intra company transfer visa. It allows multinational companies to transfer employees from foreign locations to those in the United States. The L-1 visa applies to managerial and executive employees or employees with specialized knowledge. An individual with specialized knowledge must possess knowledge about the company’s operations. An L-1 visa is a dual intent visa and the maximum length an individual is allowed to stay in the United States is seven years.
The H-1B visa is also a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign workers to come to the United States. An H-1B visa requires that the individual possess either theoretical or technical knowledge in a specialized field such as technology, science, or engineering. You may have to submit evidence that your degree relates to the specialized field mentioned in your petition. An H-1B visa is also dual intent and the maximum length of stay is six years with the opportunity to file for a three-year extension.
H-1B visas require that the individual have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In some instances, the education requirements may be substituted with hands-on experience. The degree or work experience must be relevant to the individual’s field of employment. An L-1 visa does not have an educational requirement and specialized knowledge does not have to be in a specific field.
L-1 visas are only available for multinational companies. They are intended for individuals who work for a company but live in a foreign country. The individual must be employed for the company for an entire year before transferring to the United States. On the other hand, an H-1B visa can be applied for by a United States-based company. The H-1B visa is only valid to work for the specific company.
A major difference between the two visas is the annual limits. There are no limits on the number of L-1 visas approved every year. However, H-1B visas are subject to a cap on the number of approvals allowed every year.
If you are interested in exploring your visa options, you should consult with an experienced visa attorney. At Serving Immigrants, we can help you weigh your options and then walk you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a consultation.