L1A and EB1C Overview
There is an option for L-1 visa holders to obtain a permanent residency (green card) without losing their L-1 visa status. A third preference category under the Employment-Based Visa (EB-1C) was created for Multinational Executives and Managers. Applicants under the EB-1C category have qualifications very similar to an L-1A applicant. In this post we’ll explore everything from the requirements to steps of transferring from L1A to Green Card. Overall, the L1a visa to green card process is relatively straightforward but it is always best handled alongside an immigration professional.
What is the L-1A Visa?
The L-1a visa is a designation that allows U.S. employers to transfer executives, managers and workers with specialized knowledge to one of the affiliated offices in the U.S. from their foreign office. To be considered an executive or manager under immigration law, you need to possess a high degree of authority in the position and perform a range of responsibilities, primarily operational or management, between the organization as a whole and the employees you oversee. An individual who handles predominately lower-level employees would not qualify. For instance, a surgeon who has their own practice could have nurses and other employees they direct but since the primary focus of her job is as a surgeon, she would not be eligible for an L1a visa but an L1B would be more appropriate.
Should the company not have a U.S.-based office yet, this nonimmigrant visa classification permits the company to send the executive/manager for the purpose of establishing an office. One of the advantages of an L1 visa is that it is considered a dual-purpose visa which means you do not need to maintain a physical home residence in the country of origin. Most nonimmigrant visas have this requirement to assure the U.S. government that you do not plan to move to the United States prior to obtaining the visa. Another significant benefit of the L1A visa to green card process is that the procedure is somewhat fast-tracked because there isn’t the conditional green card period like with other visas and you also can avoid the Permanent Labor Certification Program.
EB-1C Multinational Executives and Managers Requirements:
- Employed for at least one year with a sister, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the intended U.S. employer
- The participant must work in the United States as a manager or executive
- The applicant’s homeland employer must make regular business transactions with the United States and other countries. This can be in the form of goods or services
- The U.S employer must have been established in the United States for at least one year
Applicants for the EB-1C visa are highly considered if they have had or currently have a L-1A status, although this is not a mandatory prerequisite. The employment-based visa first preference category is also convenient in that it does not require a PERM Labor Certification. The PERM Labor Certification is mandated to ensure that the employment opportunity will not negatively impact a U.S. worker conditions or wages. To acquire a PERM Labor Certification, the applicant needs to designate a substantial amount of time and funds.
L-1A to EB-1C Green Card Procedure:
If you are an L-1A visa holder, here are the steps you will need to take to go from L1a to green card (EB-1C).
The first step is to have your employer file an I-140 petition on your behalf. Even for the EB-1C, you need a job offer in the U.S. in order to petition. However, as stated before, you do not need to have your employer obtain a PERM Labor Certification. Keep in mind that premium processing is not available for the EB-1C.
Once your I-140 has been received by the USCIS, that date will mark your priority date. You will need to check the visa bulletin released monthly by the Department of State in order to check if your priority date is current. Fortunately, the dates for the EB-1 tend to be current, meaning that you can file for an adjustment of status as soon as your petition is approved.
However, it is important to check the visa bulletin regularly to make sure that your priority date is current as there have been periods of time where a backlog has developed. In any case, when your date is current, you can adjust your status or go through consular processing to obtain legal permanent resident status.
If your employer does not sponsor you for the EB-1C then you have some additional options to consider. For instance, the EB-1A for Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities or the EB2 NIW may suit your situation. In either case, it’s best to first consult a green card attorney to learn more about L1A to green card options.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing?
Because you are already in the U.S. under L-1A status, you have the option to adjust your status or to go through consular processing. For those who are outside the U.S. at the time of filing, the only option available to them is consular processing.
Adjusting your status simply requires you to submit an I-485 form with the USCIS. This usually takes an average of six months and cannot be expedited with premium processing. After receiving your adjustment of status packet, USCIS will send you a confirmation of receipt, Notice of Action (I-797C). Receiving this typically takes a few weeks. After receiving your Notice of Action, you will get your biometrics appointment date.
The basic filing fee for the I-485 ranges from $750-$1,140.
On the other hand, consular processing requires you to travel to a designated U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country to participate in a one-on-one interview with a consular officer. While this may seem inconvenient, it does tend to have a shorter processing time and a cheaper filing fee, though you have to factor travel costs into the expense.
Ultimately, the best route depends on your immigration situation. Sit down with your immigration attorney to determine which process is the most appropriate for your case.
L1A to Green Card Success Rate
Since the L-1 visa is considered dual intent, it is often the case that these visa holders will try to apply for a Green Card before their status expires. The overall process to go from L1A visa to Green Card is typically smooth and the success rate is good as well, assuming you meet all the necessary criteria.
Differences Between EB-1C and L-1A
As previously pointed out, there are many similarities between the EB-1C and L-1 Visa applications. Despite the many factors they share, there are some very important differences, outlined below:
- The L-1A is a non-immigrant category for temporary alien workers whereas the EB-1C is an immigrant category. This distinction between immigrant and non-immigrant is important to bear in mind.
- There are no blanket petitions available for EB-1C. While the L-1A has the option for an individual as well as a blanket petition, the EB-1C must be sponsored on an individual basis.
- Specialized knowledge does not suffice. In the L1 category, you may qualify if you have some specialized knowledge for minimum of a year however, this level of education/experience does not suffice for a beneficiary of the EB-1C.
Cases vary when making the transition from L1a to green card so it’s advised to first consult a qualified attorney before filing.
L-1B (Specialized Knowledge) to Green Card Procedure:
Applicants with L-1B status will be required to go through the PERM Labor Certification process. L-1B applicants may endure long waits unless they are eligible to apply under EB-1 Extraordinary Ability or EB-1 Outstanding Researchers and Professors. To acquire a Green Card with a L-1B status (Specialized Knowledge Professional), the applicant may file under EB-3 or EB-2 categories, if eligible. The applicant may file under the National Interest Waiver (NIW) as well.
Applicants with L-1A status may also pursue immigration benefits through the general family based immigration process.
L-1A to Green Card Benefits
There are many inherent benefits of the EB visa category and therefore it is favorable for many to transfer from L-1A and EB-1C. The three main benefits are as follows:
- There is no significant investment required. Unlike the EB-5 path, you are not mandated to invest $1 million or $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise.
- No technical “conditional” green card period.
- The sponsoring employer is responsible for providing the documents and covering the filing fees.
- Odds of approval are relatively high if you were previously on L-1A status. That means if your shifting from L1A to green card the odds are in your favor!
What is the Cost of Transferring from an L-1A to an EB-1?
This depends on whether you choose to go through consular processing or to adjust your status.
Adjustment of Status
- I-140 filing fee: $700
- I-485 fee: $750-$1,140 depending on your age. See this chart from the USCIS to learn more.
- Biometrics fee (if applicable): $85
- I-140 filing fee: $700
- DS-260 immigrant application fee: $230
- Biometrics fee (if applicable): $85
- Affidavit of Support fee (if applicable): $88
How We Can Help – L1 to Green Card
VisaNation Law Group’s L-1A visa lawyers are highly experienced in filing for Green Cards for those who are currently under L-1A status or who were previously under L-1A status. They can help you determine if you qualify under the EB-1C category.
Contact VisaNation Law Group’s Fort Lauderdale immigration lawyers for more information and assistance with obtaining employment-based immigration benefits under the EB-1C category.