Did you know that if you are in the U.S. on an L-1A work visa, as a manager or company executive, you can set yourself up to become eligible to get a Green Card through an EB-1C visa? Read on to learn more about this connected pathway between these two visas for managers and executives to get a Green Card!
Basics of the L-1A and EB-1C Visas
The L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager visa is a non-immigrant work visa that allows companies to transfer foreign employees, who are managers or executives, to company branches in the United States. Unlike other types of high-skilled work visas, the L-1 visa is meant for people who are going to be working for the same employer in the U.S. as they were abroad. There are two types of L-1 visas: 1) L-1A visas for managers or executives, and 2) L-1B visas for employees with specialized knowledge. At relevance here is the L-1A Visa.
The EB-1C Multinational manager or Executive visa is an immigrant work visa that allows companies to transfer foreign managers and executives to company branches in the U.S. While the EB-1C visa serves a similar purpose and demographic as the L-1A visa, it comes with some key differences by virtue of being an immigrant visa as opposed to a non-immigrant visa like the L-1A visa. Immigrant visas are for people seeking to live in the U.S. permanently; they lead to permanent residence and a Green Card. In contrast, non-immigrant visas are for people who plan on staying in the U.S. temporarily and for a specific purpose, like work or travel; they do not lead to permanent residence or a Green Card.
Key Similarities and Differences Between L-1A and EB-1C Visas
The primary similarity between the L-1A and EB-1C visas is their eligibility requirements. Both require demonstration of the following:
- A qualifying relationship between the employee and the company;
- At least one year of continuous employment at the company abroad; and
- For the employee’s assignment in the U.S. to be in a managerial or executive position.
The main differences between the two visas have to do with the additional requirements and greater documentary evidence for EB-1C visas compared to L-1A visas because the EB-1C visa leads to a Green Card! The L-1A visa has options for both individual and blanket petitions to be filed on the behalf of the employee, whereas the EB-1C visa requires the company to petition for each employee individually. Additionally, the L-1A visa allows for the company to be conducting business in the U.S. as an employer for at least one year or show that it will be for one year when opening a new office in the U.S. to fulfill the visa requirement. In contrast, the EB-1C requires that the company already have conducted business in the U.S. as an employer for at least one year. This requirement should not be difficult to meet if you are first already here on an L-1A visa.
It is important to remember that while already having an L-1A visa can set you up for a pathway to Green Card, an approval for an L-1A visa does not guarantee approval for an EB-1C visa. To get an EB-1C visa, it is important to meet all the additional requirements of an immigrant visa.
The Process from an L-1A Visa to an EB-1C Visa and Green Card
For L-1A visa holders to apply for a Green Card, they must first be approved for some form of immigrant visa classification. Given the significant overlap between L-1A and EB-1C visa requirements, one of the straightforward pathways for L-1A visa holders to obtain a Green Card is the EB-1C visa! Once L-1A visa holders have successfully received the EB-1C visa, they can adjust their status and apply for a Green Card.
Therefore, if you are an L-1A visa holder and the company you work for has been doing business in the U.S. for at least one year, there are two steps your immigration attorney will take on your behalf. First, your immigration attorney will file the Form I-140, or the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for the EB-1C visa. Then, after visa approval, they will file Form I-485, or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, for the Green Card. The great news is your immigration attorney may be able to file both concurrently to expedite the process!
Can L-1B visa holders with specialized knowledge qualify for an EB-1C Visa?
Because the EB-1C visa is specifically meant for people in managerial or executive positions, L-1B visa holders may not directly qualify to get permanent residence and a Green Card through an EB-1C visa. They may need to make certain career moves to become eligible or instead pursue other visa options available to people with specialized knowledge, such as the EB-2 visa or EB-3 visa.
Although the process of obtaining a Green Card can seem daunting, L-1A visa holders have a straightforward pathway to Lawful Permanent Residence, and a Green Card, with the EB-1C visa. If you are an L-1A visa holder and you are interested in obtaining a Green Card through an EB-1C visa, please contact us for an in-depth assessment of your eligibility and for guidance in navigating the process.