L1 Visa vs H1B Visa - Difference Between H1 & L1 Visa USA

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MOEC

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Updated On 30 January 2024

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Read Time 12 minutes

Are you wondering about the differences between the L1 Visa vs H1B Visa and are confused between both visa types? Well, every year, thousands of students get stuck on the same point in deciding which visa they should file. L1 and H1B visas are two work visas in the United States. Please note that there is a similarity between the two, like the dual intent of benefit. But there are differences, too.

 

Don’t fret about learning the differences between these visa types! In this blog, we will walk you through the stark comparisons of L1 Visa vs H1B Visa, eligibility requirements and length of stay. So, let’s start!

 

What is an L1 visa?

An L1 visa is an intra-company transferee visa. It is a non-immigrant visa that the US Congress imposed in 1970. Large corporations with operations in several nations can temporarily transfer staff in specialised jobs to the US with the help of the L1 visa.

 

There are two distinct visa types, the L1A and L1B, which can be used to transfer workers to the United States. L1As include managers and executives, whereas L1Bs have employees with specialised skills.

 

L1B visas are for employees of organisations who have specialised in a particular field of knowledge, such as a proprietary product or procedure, but who are not senior executives. People who qualify for L1 visas do not need a US equivalent degree of four years.

 

One of the most significant benefits is that there is no annual cap on the number of L1 visas that must be issued. While employees with specialised expertise on L1B have 5 years of experience, managers/executives on L1A have 7 years. However, when discussing the differences between L1 Visa vs H1B Visa, it is important to know that a person cannot enter the US on an L1A visa, stay there for seven years, then enter on an H1 visa, and stay there for another six years.

 

Also, Read: USA Study Visa

 

What is an H1B visa?

The H1-B visa is a multiple-entry nonimmigrant visa that enables foreign employees of US businesses to work in the US. Under this visa category, workers eligible to transfer to the United States should work in specialised fields. There is a yearly general quota (65,000). A further 20,000 spots are reserved for people with master's degrees.

 

Holders of an H1B visa are permitted to work in the US for 6 years. The initial approval period is 3 years. However, the holder can extend it for another 3 years. An H1B applicant may request a one-year extension if the I-140 is submitted 365 days before the visa's expiration in its sixth year.

 

While L1 Visas are ideal for international companies and take less time to get than H1B visas, H1B visas have strict restrictions. Additionally, L-1 and H-1B visa holders can pursue a green card while remaining in the country as a nonimmigrant, thanks to the dual intent of these visa categories. You can apply for an H-1B visa later if you enter with an L1 visa. Moreover, the applicant's nationality determines how long the visa will be valid.

 

Explore, more: Minimum IELTS Score for USA

 

Differences between H1B and L1 visa

The L1 and H1B visas differ based on their distinct features. While both the H1B and L1 visas offer opportunities for foreign professionals to work in the United States, they vary significantly in their purpose and requirements. Let's have a look at the in-depth differences between L1 Visa vs H1B Visa.

Feature

L1 Visa

H1B Visa

Purpose

Intra-company transfers for multinational companies.

Employment in a specialised field with a U.S. employer.

Employer:

It was filed by a branch of a foreign company with 1 year of executive or managerial experience.

U.S. employers can hire from another country.

Education Requirements:

No degree requirement.

Requires a degree (bachelor's or equivalent).

Payroll

Can be on the payroll of a U.S. or foreign company.

Must be on the payroll of a U.S. company.

Spouse

L2 visa holders can get employment authorisation documents.

H4 visa holders cannot get employment authorisation documents.

Dept. of Labor Approval

Not required.

Mandatory.

Duration

L1A: 7 years, L1B: 5 years (no extensions allowed).

Up to 6 years with possible extensions.

Green Card

You can apply under the EBIC category; no labour certification is needed.

Requires PERM labor certification for approval.

Dual Intent

is not allowed; applying for a green card may require a visa change.

Allowed; can apply for a green card without jeopardising status.

Prevailing Wages

No specific requirements and low wages might be an issue.

Must be paid according to prevailing wages.

Employer Sponsorship

Requires sponsorship from a qualifying multinational company.

Requires sponsorship from a U.S. employer.

Annual Cap Limits

No cap limit on L1 visa issuance.

Subject to cap petitions, 85,000 visas per year.

Speciality Occupation

L1A for managerial or executive roles, L1B for specialised knowledge.

Requires a bachelor's degree for specialised knowledge roles. 

L1B vs H1B: Which is Better?

On an H1B visa, the holder can stay for six years, whereas an L1A visa holder can stay up to 7 years, and an L1B visa holder for 5 years. There is an opportunity for an extension of stay on an H1B visa, granting the holder an additional six years; however, there is no such extension for any L1 visa holder.

 

While the L1 is more appropriate for those who work for multinational companies, the H1B is more suitable for those who wish to work for American companies and have more flexibility.

 

H1B vs. L1 visa eligibility requirements

 Now that you know the answer to - is L1 visa better than H1B, let’s have a look at the H1B visa and L1 visa eligibility requirements one by one:

 

H1B Visa Eligibility

  • Educational Qualification: You must possess a minimum of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in a specific field related to the job.

 

  • Job Offer in a Specialty Occupation: You need a job offer from a US employer for a speciality occupation position. The role requires specialised knowledge and a bachelor's degree or higher.

 

  • Labour Condition Application (LCA): The sponsoring employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor. The LCA includes details about the job, location, and proposed wage to ensure it meets prevailing wage standards and that hiring an H1B worker will not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers.

 

L1 Visa Eligibility

  • Qualifying Multinational Employment: You must be employed by a qualifying multinational company for at least one continuous year within the past three years preceding the petition. This employment should have occurred outside the U.S.

 

  • Corporate Relationship: You should enter the US to work for a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the same multinational company that employed them abroad.

 

  • Managerial or Executive Position (L1A): If applying under L1A, you must hold a managerial or executive position within the company, presenting your ability to oversee and direct the work of other professional employees.

 

  • Specialised Knowledge (L1B): If applying under L1B, you have to possess specialised knowledge that is integral to the employer's business operations, often involving advanced expertise in the company's products, services, research, equipment, techniques, or management.

 

  • Work Relationship: Your work in the U.S. should primarily involve executive, managerial, or specialised knowledge duties and should not be an entry-level position.

 

  • Employer Petition: The employer must file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the employee.

 

Therefore, both H1B and L1 visas need a rigorous process, and completing these qualifying requirements is critical for a successful application.

 

Also, Read: Cost of Studying in USA 2024 

 

L1 Salary vs H1B Salary

In the United States, H1B visa holders are amongst the top-paid employees. Their wages begin at the 90th percentile of all wages in the country. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the median wage for an H1B worker in 2021 was about $108,000. While you can earn a minimum salary of up to USD 60,000 on an L1 visa.

 

H1B vs L1 for Green Card

If you intend to acquire an L1 visa, you can apply for a green card under the EBIC category, which prevents the need to undergo the labour certification process. Labour certification is a long and expensive process. L1 Visa holders can get their green card in under a year.

 

However, in the case of an H1B visa, employers need to get approval from PERM labour certification to acquire a green card.

 

H1B to L1B

You can convert your H1B visa to an L1B visa. To do so, your employer must file for a change in your employment status. The employer will fill out an I-129 form to submit a petition to the USCIS.

 

Factors to consider when choosing between H1B & L1 visa

While you are deciding between an L1 Visa vs H1B Visa, you can consider the factors given below:

  • Job Role and Career Objectives: Check whether your job role lists under the specialised occupation (H1B visa) or if it entails a managerial or specialised knowledge role in a global corporation (L1). Differentiate between the L1 Visa vs H1B Visa, and choose one that fits the job role and long-term goals.

 

  • Stay Duration: The duration of your stay also matters in the US. The L1 visa allows longer extensions than the H1B visa.  If you ask, is an L1 visa easy to get? Then, the answer is no. It is not easy to obtain.

 

  • Dual Intent and Aspirations for Green Cards: If you want to acquire permanent residency or a green card in USA, then the H1B visa’s dual intent is a favourable option. H1B visa holders can apply for a green card without risking their non-immigrant status. However, L1 visa holders may have to switch visa categories to pursue permanent residency.

 

  • Sponsored by the Company: The H1B visa requires sponsorship from USA employers. However, an L1 visa needs sponsorship from an MNC. Distinguish between the L1 Visa vs H1B Visa and choose one that fits the criteria. 

 

  • Flexibility to Change the Job: If you apply for an H1B visa, you can work for a particular employer, and if you want to change the job, you require a new H1B petition. However, an L1 visa offers better flexibility, so you can easily switch to any other company if required.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, in the quest to unravel the differences between L1 Visa vs H1B Visa, understand that both visa types offer unique opportunities for talented individuals to work in the United States. The decision between the two is based on your circumstances, professional aspirations, and the type of your job. Thus, before you decide, consider the differences in qualifying standards, stay duration, dual intent provisions, and employer sponsorship.

 

If you wish to learn more about the L1 and H1B visas, contact our expert counsellors at any Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC) branch. Our expert education counsellors will provide the best support and guidance for admission to your dream university. For more information or any queries, you can mail us at application02@meridean.org or call us at 1800-1230-00011.

 

FAQs

Q. Can L1 visa holders apply for H1?

Ans: If an L-1 visa holder wants to accept a new job offer from a different business, they can switch from an L-1 visa to an H-1B visa. However, there are a few things to be cautious about. The status change from L-1 to H-1B will require a whole new H-1B application, and the employee will still be subject to the H-1B cap.

 

Q. What is the difference between H-1B and L-1 status?

Ans: The H1-B visa allows foreign workers to start working in the United States with a completely new employer and company, whereas the L-1 visa requires that the applicant work for a multinational employer for at least one year in a row during the three years preceding the application.

 

Q. What is the salary difference between L-1 and H-1B visas?

Ans: There are no specific wage requirements for the L1 Visa. Other than that, it should not be low. H1B visa holders must be paid the same as other workers in their profession or the average income for that employment in the United States. The Visa is issued following your employment contract.

 

Q. Who is eligible for an H1 visa?

Ans: H1B status is available to a person offered a temporary professional position by a U.S. employer. A bachelor's degree or higher in a related area is the minimum educational level required for a position to qualify for H1B status, and the H1B employee must have this degree (or higher).

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