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Understanding The L1-B Visa Conversion To H1-B Visa

Understanding The L1-B Visa Conversion To H1-B Visa

The US government issues non-immigrant visas for immigrants who intend to stay in the country only for a limited period. The federal government approves more than forty types of US non-immigrant visas.

Immigrants can use these types of visas to work in the United States, study in the United States, conduct business in the country, or simply visit US attraction sites. It is not easy to convert a visa when on a non-immigrant visa. If you are an L1-B visa holder in the US, you may want to convert to an H1-B visa.

The L1-B visa permits foreign skilled professionals to come to the US as managers, executives, or with certain knowledge in their field that is essential to the business operations of a US company. Also, the H1-B visa permits skilled non-citizens in the United States to work.

However, the H1-B visa offers wider benefits than the L1-B visa, making a visa conversion from an L1-B to an H1-B visa a big deal for L1-B visa holders. You can request a visa conversion from within the US without returning to your home country.

The USCIS’ visa conversion process from L1-B to H1-B visas is not always straightforward, especially considering the complexity of H1-B visa applications. If you are currently in the US on an L1-B visa and want a visa conversion to an H1-B visa, we have compiled a step-by-step guide to make the visa conversion as painless as possible.

Overview of the L1 visa

An L1 visa is a type of work visa that permits professionals working for an overseas company to relocate to the US to work for the American part of their company. It is commonly referred to as an “intra-company transfer.”

Unlike other types of work visas, foreign workers who qualify for an L1 visa are already employees of the company they plan to work for in the United States. There are two types of L1 visas: L1-A visas (designed for executive or management roles) and L1-B visas (designed for workers with specialist knowledge).

As a L 1-A visa manager or executive, your role is to be in charge of a substantial part of the company’s operations and to have the ability to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

As an L1-B visa specialist knowledge worker, you must have concrete and practical knowledge of your company’s products and services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management or procedures, and how they operate in an international context. An international firm may also engage you to set up a new office.

Overview of the H1-B visa

H1-B visas are temporary visas given to foreign nationals when an American company requires someone with advanced skills for a US job requiring a specific set of skills. This person must have a college degree or more. The company must demonstrate that there aren’t enough qualified Americans for the job.

The H1-B visa isn’t just for big international companies; it has more stringent requirements than the L1 visa. It is only for people who have a college degree or more and have been offered a job by a company in the US for a job that needs a certain level of expertise.

Things to consider before a visa conversion from L-1B to H1-B status

An H1-B visa offers numerous advantages and some downsides compared to an L1-B visa in the US. There are many factors to consider when contemplating whether to convert a visa from an L1-B visa to an H1-B visa. Among these factors are:

  1. Ability to change employers.

The first consideration is that an L1-B worker must continue working for the same employer and role (as stated in the application). L1-B workers cannot apply for new employment with other employers under L1-B. However, H1-B holders can change their employer if the H1-B sponsor is qualified to sponsor them.

An L1-B to H1-B visa conversion application can be made for the same employer but for a different role or if another organization has found qualified employment.

  1. How much time do you have in the US?

A significant worry for L1-B visa holders aiming to convert to H1-B visas is that the 6-year limit of H1-B visas encompasses the duration of your stay in the US with L1-B visas. For example, if you have been on L1-B visas for 2 years in the US, you will have 4 years remaining for H1-B visas (with a 3-year extension).

In such situations, exploring your options for obtaining a green card sooner is advisable to secure your right to remain in the US.

  1. Limits on the number of visa issuance.

The primary and glaring issue is that there is an annual limit on H1-B visas, which is routinely surpassed each year. This implies that a limited supply of H1-B visas is made available yearly, leaving no assurance of approval for an H1-B visa application.

This is regardless of whether you have secured employment that meets the qualifications. On the other hand, there are no restrictions regarding the number of L1-B visas that can be issued.

  1. Do you have a valid visa?

You also have to ensure you keep up with your immigration status. In this situation, you must continue working for the same employer, on their payroll, until the new visa you have applied for begins on October 1st (meaning there is no extension period for this).

Should you successfully convert your visa and update your immigration status, you are required to work until your new visa begins to prevent any lapse in status.

For instance, you shouldn’t quit your current job until you have received approval for your visa conversion and have agreed with your employer in the L1-B category that your contract will end on September 30th, aligning with the H1-B visa requirements.

If your visa expires before the successful visa conversion, your application to USCIS may be denied, and you could encounter problems with any further USCIS applications.

How to apply for the visa conversion

H1-B visas are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications must be submitted within 90 days of your notification date for positions that begin on or after October 1. Your application, subsequent successful visa conversion, and new employment must be submitted within the same 90-day period.

The application period begins in March for jobs starting on or after October 1. If you are applying for the lottery position, you must submit your registration within 90 days after your notification date.

First, you should know that there is no specific visa conversion process. If you want to change your status from L1-B to H1-B, you will need to apply from the start. The only advantage is that since you are already in the US, if your application is approved, you may not need to go through a consular process, and you can submit your status change immediately.

  1. Get someone to petition for you.

If you don’t want to move to the same company after a visa conversion, you will need to find another company that will sponsor your H1-B petition. These new sponsors will have to register, and if they do, they will be responsible for putting together and filing the whole visa application.

You will need a letter of employment that explains your role, when you started working for the company, and how much money you will make, among other details.

  1. The labor condition application.

Furthermore, your employer needs to fill out labor condition applications (LCA) with the labor department (DOL) to confirm eligibility for the program. After the H1-B petition is processed and the application for visa conversion is approved, the DOL will distribute a verified copy of LCAs to prospective employers.

  1. Submit other relevant proofs.

You will need to submit form I-129, proof of your experience, and your employment agreement to your USCIS service center. Once you submit your paperwork, you will be eligible to start work in October of the following year. You can remain in the US during the visa conversion process and continue working on an L1-B visa.

However, it is important to note that you must stay compliant with the terms of your L1-B visa up to September 30th before the H1-B visa placement. If the visa conversion application is denied, you are eligible to continue working in the US while the L1-B visa is valid and you continue to meet the requirements for your L1-B visa (i.e., same work for the same employer).

If you still have an L1-B visa but would like to work on an H1-B visa, you can apply again at your next H1-B window or explore other visa options.

What are the best options?

Choosing the right visa will be one of the most important decisions when immigrating to the United States. It will depend on various factors, including your circumstances, eligibility criteria, and visa restrictions. If you are looking for a short-term work visa in the United States, you will want to consider one of the several options.

The L1-B visas are limited to employees of major multinational companies. However, H1-B visas allow you to change jobs and employers during your stay. These duos are the most popular temporary work visas in the United States.

However, if your business is already established in the United States and you plan to expand your trade, you may want to apply for one of the E-1 visas. Alternatively, you may seek a short-term work visa to carry out specific business activities in the US. You might find that the B-1 business visitor visa is right for you.

Get help!

A visa conversion from an L1-B visa to an H1-B visa is one of the biggest challenges. This is because H1-B visas are difficult to get, especially when winning the H1-B visa lottery. You want to be as cautious as possible. If you need an experienced immigration lawyer, contact Gehi and Associates now! We can help you save time, energy, and money.

With decades of experience assisting clients with similar cases, our immigration lawyers work closely with clients to ensure that everything is done right on the first attempt. We guide our clients every step of the way. Contact us today!

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