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 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.
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 H1VisaThe following table shows the differences between L1 Visa and H1 Visa
|Feature||L1 Visa||H1B Visa|
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:
|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|