L-1 Visa Extension or Renewal
The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows international companies to relocate certain workers from offices outside the U.S. to an office, affiliate, subsidiary or branch inside the U.S. It also allows for those employees to start new branches for their employers.
An L-1 visa extension can be granted in two-year increments at a time up to the maximum duration for each visa category. The L-1A visa for managers and executives has a maximum period of stay of seven years while the L-1B visa for workers with specialized knowledge has one for five years.
These refer to the actual time spent in the United States which means that any period of time spent outside the U.S. for business or pleasure reason can be recaptured while seeking an extension.
L-1 Visa Extension Process
The process for obtaining an L-1 visa extension is very similar to the process involved with getting the initial L-1 visa. Essentially, your employer just needs to file a separate petition on your behalf before the departure date on your I-94 expires.
L-1 Visa Extension Required Documents
To file an L-1 visa extension, you will be required to submit several documents to USCIS. These include:
- Proof that the beneficiary has been employed since living in the country
- Evidence of the beneficiary’s degree or its foreign equivalent that is relevant to his or her work in the U.S.
- Letter from foreign qualifying employer detailing the beneficiary’s dates of employment, responsibilities, and salary in the previous 3 years of employment
- Support letter from petitioner which includes alien’s salary, work schedule, job duties, terms of employment, etc.
- USCIS filing fee
- Recapturing Time Outside the U.S.
- In order to recapture time spent outside the country, you’ll need to submit a summary of your travel itinerary including the number of days spent overseas. You’ll also need evidence showing your physical presence outside the country. Examples include boarding passes, plane tickets, passport stamps and other records of your departure.
- What happens if you don’t submit evidence? If you fail to submit these documents USCIS will deny your request to recapture time straightforward and not even bother sending a request for evidence.
- A completed I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
If you are applying for an L-1 visa extension and you wish for your L2 spouse and/or dependents to have their visas extended as well, your employer must file an I-539 form along with your I-129.
Difference Between Regular and Blanket Visa Extensions
There are two types of procedures for the L-1 visa extension. The regular extension requires an application and approval for each individual beneficiary. On the other hand, the blanket visa extension is for employers that hire a significant number of intra-company transfer employees, allowing them to file one petition for many workers rather than just one.
Because it is so important to file the appropriate paperwork for an L-1 visa extension, it is always highly recommended to work alongside a qualified immigration attorney to be sure you are making the right decisions for your L-1 visa extension.
L-1B Blanket Visa Extension
An L-1 blanket petition is used by large companies to pre-qualify L-1 employees for a transfer. The benefit of an L-1 blanket petition is once it’s approved, the company is able to transfer employees rather quickly without the need to file separate petitions. L-1B blanket visa extensions may be added on indefinitely.
To qualify for an L-1 blanket extension petition, the U.S. company must have at least 1,000 employees, must have obtained L-1 visas for at least 10 employees in the past year and have combined sales of at least $25 million.
Spouses and Relatives of L-1 Workers
Transferring employees (L-1 workers) can have their spouses and children (unmarried) accompany them by seeking an L2 non-immigrant status. If their petition is approved they will be granted the same period of stay as the L-1 worker.
However, it is important to note that filing for an extension on your L-1 visa does not automatically grant an extension to your L2 dependents or spouse. To request a change of status or extension of stay under L2 status, while in the U.S., the relatives may apply together on Form I-539 Application to change or extend nonimmigrant status.
If you are a spouse of an L-1 worker you are permitted to apply for work authorization by filling out Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the fee. Once approved there aren’t any restrictions on where the L2 spouse can work.
L-1 Visa Extension Processing Time
The L-1 visa extension processing time varies depending on the service center that is processing your I-129 petition. If it is a popular service center with a backlog, the processing time can take 8 months or more. On average, many petitions are processed in about 6 months.
Because all L visa extensions require the same I-129 petition, the processing times usually do not differ. This means that the L-1A extension processing time and the L-1B extension processing time will not necessarily be different because of their classification.
L-1 Premium Processing
L-1 premium processing is available (for an additional fee) when the employer is filing the petition. Otherwise, the regular processing fee is available. Essentially what premium processing does is provide an expedited application process. According to USCIS, your petition should be handled within 15 calendar days if you select this option. As it stands the current fee is $1,440.
It is important to note that opting for premium processing will not guarantee that your L-1 visa renewal will be approved. It only guarantees a 15-day processing time for your petition. If the USCIS fails to process your petition, you will be refunded the premium processing fee.
From L-1 Visa to Green Card
If you are aiming to change your visa status from L-1A to EB-1C green card, your employer will first need to submit a Petition for Alien Worker (I-140 form) to the USCIS. Assuming priority dates are current, your employer can jointly file for your adjustment of status. If you (applicant) are living outside the U.S. you must wait for your I-140 to be approved through consular processing.
For those on L-1B status, you will be required to go through PERM Labor Certification process. You’ll then need to file for your green card under EB2 or EB3 status depending on your eligibility. A qualified immigration attorney can help you determine which option is most appropriate.
L-1 Visa Extension Fees
Filing for an L-1A or L-1B visa extension is very similar to filing for the initial visa. Therefore the fees are also very similar. Your employer will be responsible for these costs:
- I-129 basic filing fee of $460
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500
It is important to note that the Public Law 114-113 fee and ACWIA fee are only applicable to the initial filing. As for the premium processing fee, it can be paid by either you or your employer. Depending on your situation, premium processing may or may not be appropriate for your case.
It is also important to note that filing for an extension for any L2 dependent visas will subject your employer to a $370 filing fee for the I-539 petition.
Do I keep my status if I am fired from my job while under L-1 status?
If you happen to lose your job while on L-1 visa status, you need to immediately find another job from an employer who will sponsor you for another work visa such as an H-1B. In some instances, you may be required to return to your home country since L-1 to H-1B transfers are subject to a numerical cap each year.
Fortunately, if you are able to transfer your status to H-1B, you will be given a 60-day grace period after H1B employment termination to find a new employer, transfer your status, or leave the country.
Can I apply for a Green Card after receiving L-1A approval?
You can receive permanent residency after being issued an L-1A visa because it is considered a “dual intent” visa. This means that, under L-1A visa extension status, you are able to apply for lawful permanent residency without jeopardizing your nonimmigrant status. Therefore, it doesn’t have the issues that some other visas have (such as the H-1B or J-1) when it comes to transferring to immigrant status. Learn more about L-1A to EB Green Card process.
How Our L-1 Attorneys Can Help
- Our immigration attorneys can help you file an L-1 visa extension or renewal for yourself or your dependents.
- We’ve handled thousands of cases with an exceptional approval rating. What’s more, we will update you on the status of your case in a timely manner.
- Contact our office to learn about scheduling an immigration consultation or getting assistance with any other immigration-related matter.