The team at Berardi Immigration Law has been working very hard to prepare our H-1B cases for filing on April 1, the first day of the filing period for H-1B visas available for the 2015 fiscal year.
Last year, the caps for fiscal year 2014 were met within the first week of the filing period. In the right circumstances, the L-1 visa may be a great alternative to the H-1B category.
There are a number of differences between the L-1 and H-1B programs. Unlike the H-1B visa, there are no education requirements, quotas or prevailing wage issues for L-1 applicants. The chart below outlines some of these features.
|Education and Other Requirements||U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations of theoretical or technical expertise that require a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.||There are no education requirements for the L-1, but the applicant must still prove qualifications for the position. L-1A visas are for employees working in a managerial or executive capacity. L-1B visas are for employees with specialized knowledge of the company, product and/or services.|
|Numerical or Other Limitations||The Department of Labor (DOL) gives out 65,000 H-1B visas every fiscal year (Oct. 1–Sept. 30), as well as 20,000 H-1B visas to applicants with master’s degrees or higher. These caps may be met very quickly. If a first-time approval, the employee cannot start the job until on or after Oct. 1. Some employers are not subject to the numeric cap, in which case, this does not apply.||There are no numerical quotas for the L-1. The applicant, however, must have been employed for at least one of the past three years at a foreign company outside the U.S., and be coming to work for a “related” U.S. organization (parent, affiliate, subsidiary or branch of the foreign employer).|
|Wage and Employer Requirements||H-1B petitions require that the position is offered at the prevailing wage. An employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the DOL.||An employer is not required to file an LCA, but the petition requires key corporate documents (incorporation documents, financials, etc.) to prove company viability and the qualifying relationship.|
|Dependents||Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may obtain H-4 status. They cannot work in the U.S.||Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may obtain L-2 status. Spouses may obtain Employment Authorization.|
|Dual Intent||Both categories allow for Dual Intent, which means that a foreign national who enters in either status may later file or intend to file for permanent residence.|
|Time Limitations||H-1B status is limited to six years. Time spent in previous L-1 status is counted against this limit. If an H-1B beneficiary has a Labor Certification or I-140 filed at least 365 days prior to the expiration of the 6th year, extensions may be granted.||L-1A limited to seven years; L-1B limited to five years. If the individual spends less than 183 days per year in the U.S. in L-1 status, additional time may be granted. Time previously spent in H status counts against these limits.|
All H-1B and L-1 applications require a strong strategy and very careful attention to detail. Please contact Berardi Immigration Law today with questions about these visa categories.