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


Meridean Overseas

Updated On 25 June 2024 & Read Time 14 minutes


Dreaming of obtaining a US visa but are confused about which one to apply for? Amidst all the different kinds of visas, this blog discusses the two kinds of US work visas: the L1 Visa vs H1B Visa.




Well, every year, thousands of students get stuck on the same point in deciding which visa they should file for. L1 and H1B visas are two work visas in the United States. But do you know that the L1 Visa has an acceptance rate of approximately 96.71%, and the H1B Visa has an acceptance rate of 97.88% with little to no refusal rate?


Looking forward to understanding the differences between the L1 Visa vs H1B Visa? Then, you have come to the right place, as the blog contains all the crucial details of both visa types!


In this blog, we will walk you through L1 Visa vs H1B Visa, eligibility requirements and length of stay. So, let’s start!

What is 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 specialise 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 four-year US equivalent degree.


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 means, a multiple-entry nonimmigrant visa. The H1B visa 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).


Did you know that the H1B visa, despite being a work visa, has a reservation of approximately 20,000 for people with a master’s degree?


Holders of an H1B visa are permitted to work in the US for 6 years. The initial approval period is 3 years, but 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 expires in its sixth year.


While L1 Visas are ideal for global companies and can be secured in comparatively less time than H1B visas. H-1B visa holders can also acquire a green card while residing in the country as a nonimmigrant which is due to the dual purpose of this visa category. 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.

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Difference Between L1 and H1B 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.


L1 Visa

H1B Visa


Intra-company transfers for multinational companies.

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


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

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


L2 visa holders can get employment authorisation documents.

H4 visa holders cannot get employment authorisation documents.

Dept. of Labor Approval

Not required.



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.

A bachelor's degree is required for specialised knowledge roles.

Also, read: What is B1 Visa USA?

Is L1 Visa Better than H1B or Vice Versa?

On an H1B visa, the holder can reside for six years while 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 6 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.


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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 an undergraduate 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 or recruiter 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 negatively influence the US workers’ working conditions.


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 and demonstrate 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 need to 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: Most Asked Question in US Visa Interview

L1 vs H1B Salary

In the United States, H1B visa holders are among the top-paid employees. Their wages begin at the 90th percentile of all wages in the country. As per the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the median wage for an H1B worker in recent years was about $108,000. Further, the L1 visa salary is a minimum of up to USD 60,000.


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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, preventing the need to undergo labour certification. 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.


Also, read: F1 Visa Slots for Fall Intake USA  


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. If you wish to study in USA, we encourage you to speak with our team of expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). Our counsellors will provide you with guidance throughout your study abroad. Get help with the application process, SOPs, and filing for a visa. Visit us and get one-to-one counselling, or avail yourself of free video counselling via our website. We will be happy to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us at application02@meridean.org or 1800-1230-00011.

Contact our counselors for application details


Question- Can L1 visa holders apply for H1?

Answer: 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.


Question- What is the difference between L1 and H1B visa?

Answer: 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.


Question-What is the salary difference between L1 and H1B visa?

Answer: 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.


Question- Who is eligible for an H1B visa?

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


Question- Can an L1 visa be converted to H1B?

Answer: The immigration status and visa category must change in order to convert an L1 visa to an H1B visa. Through this procedure, those who were previously granted an intra-company transferee visa (L1) to enter the country might convert to an H1B visa, which is intended for workers in specialised occupations.


Question- What is the L1 visa validity?

Answer: An L1 visa is normally issued for a maximum of three years, with the option for two further one-year extensions (one for L1A and one for L1B).


Question- Is an L1 visa transferable between employers?

Answer:  It is not possible to "transfer" an L-1 visa to most new companies. The new sponsoring firm must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company that hired the L-1 visa holder for one of the past three years for the L-1 visa holder to "transfer" or "change" employers.


Question- What is the L1 visa salary?

Answer: The starting pay for them is the 90th percentile of all salaries in the nation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that in recent years, an H1B worker's median pay would be around $108,000. At the same time, an L1 visa allows you to make up to USD 60,000 in minimum pay.


Question- How long can I stay outside the US while on H-1B?

Answer: Staying outside the United States for more than six months may affect your H1B visa status and your ability to reenter the country. Nevertheless, there are situations like yours where an exception could be made, such as a medical emergency.

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