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Guide To Change From A L1-B Status To An H1-B Status In The US

Guide To Change From A L1-B Status To An H1-B Status In The Us

A nonimmigrant visa is a visa issued by the United States government to immigrants who plan to remain in the country for a limited time. The United States has over forty different types of nonimmigrant visas that the government of the United States approves.

These types of visas can be used by immigrants to enter the United States to work, study, conduct business, or just to visit the country’s attractions. It also makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain or transfer a visa from one status to another. If you are an L1-B visa holder in the US, you may be interested in transitioning to the H1-B visa.

The L1-B is a visa that allows foreign skilled professionals to enter the US as managers, executives, or with some specific knowledge in their field that is essential to the operation of a US business. The H1-B also allows skilled non-citizens to work in the United States, but it also offers wider benefits than L-1 visas, making a transfer of visa from an L1-B to an H-1B preferable for an L1-B visa holder.

You may apply for a transfer of visa (change of status) from within the United States without returning to your country of origin. The USCIS process for transitioning from an L-1 visa to an H-1 visa is not always simple, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the H-1 visa application process.

For those currently working on an L1-B visa in the United States and who would like to switch to a new visa (an H1-B visa), we have compiled a simple guide to help you make the transition as easy as possible.

What are the L1 visas?

The L-1 is a work visa that allows professionals working for a foreign company to move to the United States to work for the same company. This is known as an intra-company transfer. Unlike other work visas, an L-1 foreign worker is already employed by the company they plan to join in the US.

There are two types of L-1 visas: L1-A visa for executive or managerial roles and L1-B visa for roles with specialist knowledge. L1-A visa managers or executives have to be in charge of a large percentage of the company’s operations and have to be able to make decisions individually.

As a specialist knowledge worker on L1-B, you must have concrete and practical knowledge of your company’s products and services and research, systems, proprietary techniques, and management or procedures and how they can be applied in an international context. A multinational company can also employ you to set up a new office.

What is an H1-B visa?

H1-B visas are a type of nonimmigrant visa that is issued when an American-based company needs to hire foreign nationals with specialized knowledge for work in the US in specialized occupations. The foreign national must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The employer must demonstrate that there are not enough US-qualified candidates for the position.

The H1-B isn’t limited to multinational companies but has stricter eligibility requirements than the L-1 visa. The H1-B only applies to candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree and who have received an offer of employment from a US-based company for a specific specialty position.

Keys concerns to transfer a visa from L1-B to H1-B

H1-B status has several benefits over L1-B in the US. There are a lot of things to consider when you are thinking about whether to transfer a visa from L1-B to H1-B. Some of these considerations

1. Strict job roles.

First, L1-B visa holders must continue to work in the same role and for the same employer (as specified in the L1-B application). They are not allowed to apply for new jobs with other employers under their current L1-B status, but with H1-B status, they can change employers as long as they are qualified to sponsor them. An L1-B to H1-B change of status can be applied for the same employer but in a different role or if you have found qualified employment with another organization.

2. Calculation of time spent in the US.

Another major concern of L1-B holders who want to transfer to H1-B visas is that the maximum 6-year period for H1-B visas will include all the time you have spent in the US under L1-B visas. For instance, if you have spent 2 years on L1-B visas in the US, that leaves 4 years on H1-B visas (3-year extension included). In these cases, you might want to consider your green card options earlier to get your permission to stay.

3. Visa cap issues.

The first and most obvious problem is that there is an annual cap on H1-B visas, which is significantly exceeded year after year. This means that only a finite number of visas are available annually, and there is no guarantee that you will be approved for an H1-B, even if you have found qualified employment. However, there are no caps on the number of L1-B visas that can be issued.

4. Is your current visa valid?

You also need to make sure you maintain your immigration status. In this case, you will need to stay employed – on your employer’s payroll – until your new visa starts on the 1st of October (there is no grace period in this case). If you successfully transfer a visa and change your immigration status, you will need to stay employed until your new visa begins so that you don’t fall out of status.

For example, you should not resign from your current position until your change of status is approved and you agree with your L1-B employer that you will terminate your contract on September 30th, which is in line with H1-B. If your visa expires before you transfer a visa, there is a chance that your USCIS application will be rejected, and you will likely face issues with subsequent USCIS applications.

The application processes

The timing of the H1-B application process is non-negotiable. You must apply for an H1-B visa during the application period, which typically begins in March, for positions that start on or after 1 October. You must apply for the lottery H1-B position and submit your registration by the deadline, usually 90 days from the date of your notification.

Your application and any subsequent successful status changes and new employment must follow these timelines. First, you need to know that there is no separate visa transfer process. If you want to switch from an L1-B visa to an H1-B visa, you will have to apply from the beginning.

The only benefit you have is that since you are already in the United States, you may not have to go through the consular process if your application is accepted, and you can file your change of status right away.

Step 1: Find an employer to sponsor you.

If you are not interested in transferring to the same employer for the first time, you must find a new one to sponsor you. Your employer will need to submit an e-registration, and if it is successful, they will be responsible for compiling and filing your entire visa application. You will need an employment letter that outlines your role, the dates of employment, and the wage you will receive, among other important information.

Step 2: Sponsor files an LCA.

In addition, your sponsor must submit Labor Condition Applications (LCAs/ ETAs) to the Labor Department (DOL) to verify that you are eligible for the program. Once you have been petitioned and your visa transfer application is approved, the DOL will send you a certified copy of your LCA/ETA to your new employers.

Step 3: Submit the paperwork.

You will need to submit all necessary documents (Form I-129 and your experience and employment agreement) to the relevant USCIS service centers. Once your paperwork is submitted, you can begin work the following October.

You can stay in the US and work on an L1-B visa through your change of status on October 1st. However, as mentioned above, it is essential that you stay compliant with L1-B visa terms until September 30th, before your H1-B placement.

If your application is rejected, you are allowed to work in the US as long as your L1-B is still valid and as long as you continue to fulfill the requirements of your L1-B visa, i.e., perform the same work for the same employer. If your L1-B visa is still valid, you can reapply at the next H1-B window or look into other visa options.

Is the H1-B visa better than the L1-B visa?

Selecting the right visa is one of the biggest decisions you will make when moving to the US. It will depend on many factors, such as your specific situation, eligibility requirements, and whether any visa restrictions would make the route unsuitable for you.

If you want to work in the US for a short period of time, an L1-B visa or H1-B visa may be the best option for you. L1-B visas are only available to employees of large multinational companies. However, the H1-B visas give you more flexibility to change jobs and employers while in the US.

While the L1-B and H1-B visas are the most common temporary work visas, other options depend on your situation. For instance, an E-1 visa provides a route where your business is a well-established trading partner with the United States looking to expand that position from within the US, or it may meet your needs if you are planning to stay for a shorter period of time to carry out certain business-related activities. Or, you may find that the B-1 business visitor visa meets your needs if your business is based in the US.

Get help!

The process to transfer a visa from L1-B to H1-B is one of the most difficult. This is because obtaining an H1-B visa is not easy, especially when it comes to winning the lottery. Therefore, you want to be as careful as possible. If you need an experienced immigration attorney to help you with this process, Gehi and Associates is here for you! We can save you time, energy, and money.

Our immigration lawyers have decades of experience in helping clients with similar cases. We work closely with our clients to ensure everything is done correctly the first time. We fight for our clients from start to finish. Contact us today!


1. What if my application to change status is denied?

Sadly, the USCIS’s decision is final. The silver lining is that you are already in the United States, so you can continue to work with your employer’s L1-B program and reapply for H1-B next season. If not, you can always look into alternative visa options or pursue permanent residency.

2. Can I apply to move from an L1-B visa to an H1-B visa at any time?

No. H1-B applications are time-sensitive, and there is no flexibility in the timeline. You will need to match your application and subsequent successful status changes to these timelines.

3. Is the H1-B visa a better option?

It all depends on your current job situation and your future goals. The L1-B visa can be easily obtained if a business needs to place a worker in the United States temporarily. However, to be eligible for an H1-B visa, an employer must be highly qualified and experienced in their chosen field of work and possess an equivalent Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or equivalent. If your goal is to settle in the United States for an extended period of time, the H1-B visa can be a good option.

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