Differences Between L1 Visa and H-1B Visa

L1 and H1B visas are sought-after work visas in the United States and do not cover unskilled workers. There are various similarities between L1 and H1B visas such as the dual intent benefit. However, there are significant differences between the two types of visas as well.

L1 Visas

L1 Visa is an Intra-Company Transferee Visa. It is a non-immigrant visa which was mandated by the US Congress in 1970. The purpose of L1 visa is to allow large multinationals - with operations across various countries - to shift employees in specialized positions on a temporary basis to the United States. Workers who can be transferred to the United States can be categorised into two specific types of visas - L1A and L1B. Managers and executives come under the category of L1As while L1Bs encompass workers with specialized knowledge.

L1Bs are aimed at workers/employees of companies who have specialized in a specific domain or any ˜field of specialized knowledge in terms of a proprietary product or process within a company but are not top executives. Under the provisions of specialized knowledge, workers need not necessarily have any degree equivalent to the US degree (four years) to be eligible for L1 visas, which works in favour of those who may have gained a certain expertise in a specific field but lack an educational degree on par with criteria set by US universities. One of the biggest advantages of L1 Visa is that there there is no cap on L1s which have to be approved every year.

L1A manager/executive has 7 years while specialized knowledge employee on L1B has 5 years. In case an individual wishes to change his status from L Visa to H Visa and vice-versa, the time allotted by him under the H or L category is taken into account. For instance, an individual cannot stay in the US for 7 years under the L1A category and continue to stay for 6 more years after switching to H1 visa category.

H1B Visa

H1-B Visa is a multiple entry non-immigrant visa which allows foreign workers employed by US companies to work in the United States. The workers who can get transferred to the United States under this type of visa should be engaged in specialised occupations. There is a general quota for a year (65,000). Also, there is an additional quota of 20,000 for individuals with a masters degree. A H1B visa holders can work in the United States for a maximum period of 6 years. The approval can be given for 3 years initially but the duration can be extended to 3 years.

If an H1B applicant files I-140 365 days before the expiry of the visa (6th year), he can take an extension for one year. H1B has stringent requirements while L1 Visa is more suitable for multinationals and is less time consuming than H1B visas. Also, L-1 and H-1B have ˜dual intent in that visa holders in both categories can aim for green card while staying as a nonimmigrant in the United States. If you entered the US with a L1 visa, you can subsequently apply for H-1B visa in the US. The validity period for a visa depends on the nationality of the applicant. H1B visa may be transferred to another employer. Holders of H1B visas can sell or buy property and invest in the stock market in the United States.

Differences between L1 Visa and H1Visa

The following table shows the differences between L1 Visa and H1 Visa
Feature L1 Visa H1B Visa
Green Card

Visa holders (L1) can apply for a green card under the EBIC category, which obviates the need to go through the labour certification process. Labour certification is a long and expensive process in most cases. L1 Visa holders can get their green card under a year.L1B holders should, however, go through the labour certification process which may take years to complete based on factors such as quotas and country of origin

Employers should mandatorily get approval from PERM labour certification for green card 

Blanket petition is available for L1 visa holders which can work to the advantage of large companies. A blanket petition is more convenient and less time consuming.

To avail of the blanket petition, an employer should meet the following criteria:

  • 1000 employees in the United States
  • Received 10 L1 visa approvals in a year
  • US subsidiaries earning 25 million USD
Each H1B worker must have an individual petition

The maximum duration is 7 years for L1A visa holders and 5 years for L1B holders

No extensions are permitted

The maximum duration is 6 years

Extensions may be allowed in some cases

Prevailing Wage There are no specific requirement. Low wages may be an issue H1B visa holders should be paid according to the actual wages or prevailing wages, whichever is higher. The State Employment Security Agency determines the prevailing wages on the basis of specific parameters such as skills, experience and responsibilities needed for a position
Employer L1 visa can be filed by the subsidiary/branch of a foreign company in which a worker (alien) has worked for 1 year(executive/special knowledge/manager) Under the H1B visa category, any employer based in the United States can hire a worker from another country
Cap No cap is applicable on visas which can be granted every year There is a cap every year.If the cap for a given year is filled/reached, a petition should be filed next year on the 1st of April. Currently, the cap is 65,000 (Singapore and Chile get 6800) 
Education requirement Workers need not necessarily have a degree even in any specialised field Workers must have a degree (either bachelor’s or its equivalent)
Approval from Dept of Labour Employers need not submit a labor application specifying dearth of qualified domestic pool to fulfill the responsibilities required for a position. A US worker cannot substitute a L1 visa holder Approval from the department of labour is mandatory. The US employer must attest that US workers (qualified) are not available for a post/position
Payroll Workers can be on the payroll of a foreign or a US based company Workers should be on the payroll of a US based company
Spouse L2 visa holders can acquire EAD (Employment Authorization Documents) to find employment. Holders of H4 visas cannot get EAD and therefore, cannot get employed


News about L1 Visa and H-1B Visa

  • H-1B Policy Plunges IT Sector Into Uncertainty

    The changes the current U.S. administration plans on making to the H-1B visa program has created uncertainty among the Indian IT sector. The sector is seeing a large-scale restructuring of its workforce, which has been viewed with concern by many industry analysts and employees.

    Some of the biggest tech companies in India like Infosys and Cognizant have announced redundancies so far, with many analysts predicting that the layoffs could continue for the next 2 years.

    Infosys, seen as the standard bearer of the Indian IT boom, announced its plans to lay off close to 1,000 senior employee and hire around 10,000 Americans for its overseas offices over the next 2 years.

    According to reports published by Goldman Sachs, India is the top beneficiary of the H-1B work visa program. This has been cited as the reason behind U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ campaign, which has been kick-started by a restructuring of the visa program and application process.

    However, some analysts have stated the layoffs are a result of poor performance and not linked to the policy of protectionism spearheaded by the U.S. President.

    31 May 2020

  • Special Payment Program for H1B Visa to be suspended for six months

    In news that came out recently, it is being reported that the Special Payment Program for H1B visa will be suspended for the next six months. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently that the country will suspend the special program to deal with a backlog of applications.

    According to this Special Payment Program, companies wanting a quicker visa hearing would be allowed to move to the top of the pile, provided that you pay $1,125 to have their visas processed a lot faster.

    Under this scheme, a decision would be reached within a span of 15 days while the normal process typically takes over three months. A source from USCIS said that this is not a ban of the H1B Visa but that it is looking to clear requests that are pending for quite a while. The source also said that the suspension will come into effect from April 3.

    10 March 2017

  • EB-5 Visa: Enter U.S. Easily at a Hefty Price

    Half a million US dollars could buy quite a lot including a guaranteed US citizenship. The EB-5 category of visas comes with a hefty price tag but can get a person over and above the hurdles of the H1B visas and the L1 visas. Under this Immigration Investor program, the EB-5 costs US$500,000 which converts to approximately Rs.3.3 crore. Visa holders will be able to obtain a permanent work permit and get citizenship within 18 months. So now individuals within enough dough needn't take the H1B or L1 visa routes. The US allows 10,000 immigrants to enter the country under the EB-5 visa. The number is much smaller compared to the other visa quotas, but then again not everyone can afford the EB-5 visa.

    13 September 2016

  • Focus on Visa and NSG membership in S&CD

    In the second S&CD (Strategic and Commercial Dialogue) with the United States of America, India will focus on NSG membership and Visa price hike. The dialogue will take place between top US and Indian officials. John Kerry (US Secretary of State) and Penny Pritzker (Commerce Secretary) will represent America while Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs Minister of India) and Nirmala Sitharaman (Commerce and Industry Minister of India) will represent India in the meeting. Recently the H-1B and L1 visa prices were hiked and it became a huge concern for the Indian companies. India has decided to bring up this issue during the S&CD and place a strong demand to revise the prices.

    1 September 2016

  • India to raise Visa issue in the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue!

    India has been concerned over the availability and cost of H1B Visa and L1 Visa for a while now as the pending legislation in the United States might constrain it. The same concern will be raised at the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that is to be held between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kenny. As of now, India's main concern is the H1B and L1 Visas while the US is concerned over inter-country parental abduction. Inter-country parental abduction is a case wherein one parent takes away the child to another country in order to get custody of the child.

    30 August 2016

  • US introduces a new bill- Indian firms cannot hire on H1B, LI visas!

    A US legislation that will prevent Indian companies from hiring IT employees under HIB and L1 visas has been introduced in the House of Representatives by a bipartisan group of US lawmakers. The legislation has to be passed by the Congress in order to be effective. The bill will have a huge impact on the revenue of some of the big IT companies in India as the revenue model of most of these companies depends on HIB and LI visas. The sponsors of the bill are actually from the two US states that have the maximum concentration of Indian-Americans.

    2 August 2016

  • US and India Held Secret Talks at WTO Over Increased Visa Fees

    On 13th May, the United States and India held secret talks in Geneva, Switzerland at the World Trade Organization. The issues discussed were key points related to the US H-1B and L-1 visas. These issues were raised by New Delhi due to concerns that sprouted after the increase in the visa fees of $4,000 for H-1B and $4,500 for L-1. A three-page complaint was submitted to the World Trade Organisation with two major points being addressed, Measures relating to Numerical Commitment for H-1B visas and US measures relating to fees for L-1 and H-1B visas.

    The talks resulted in both the nations having no comments, therefore hinting that a resolution wont be in order any time soon. Both these visas are widely used by Indian information technology firms which use these visas to employ Indian nationals in their offices and operations in the United States.

    8 June 2016

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