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Comparing the Features of H-1B and L-1 Applications

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.

H-1B L-1 
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.