The L-1A and EB-1C both enable foreign companies to transfer employees to a United States office. Although the L-1A and EB-1C have similar visa requirements, they differ significantly. The L-1A gives an employee temporary work authorization and the EB-1C gets an employee in line to file a U.S. green card.
The L-1A Visa Category: A Temporary Work Visa
The L-1A is a temporary U.S. work visa that allows managers and executives at foreign companies to transfer to a U.S. office or establish a new U.S. office.
Why Would You Want an L-1A Visa as an Employee?
- Up to seven years of temporary work authorization at your employer in the U.S.
- U.S. work authorization for your spouse
- Transfer from your company’s foreign office to a U.S. office
- Easily travel and out of the U.S., even with a pending green card
- The L-1 visa is dual intent, which makes applying for a green card easier
Why Would You Want an L-1A Visa as an Employer?
- Strategically transfer employees to the U.S.
- Expand into the U.S. and transfer key employees to establish a new U.S. office
- Transfer numerous employees at once with blanket petitions (if you qualify)
L-1A Visa Requirements
Both the employee and the employer must meet certain requirements for the L-1A.
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (a parent, a subsidiary, a branch, an affiliate, or a sister company);
- Have or will have a physical office space; and
- Will be doing business in both the U.S. and at least one other country for the duration of the employee’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1 visa holder.
- Must have been employed by the company abroad for at least one continuous year within the three years immediately before admission to the U.S.; and
- Has a job offer to work in an executive or managerial capacity for the same company in the U.S.
Types of L-1A Visas
New Office L-1A: If your company does not yet have an entity or office in the U.S., you can send foreign employees to establish a new office in the U.S. New office L-1A petitions are different from regular L-1A petitions because they require additional documentation and are granted for one year initially. After the first year, L-1A visa holders can apply for an extension. Read more about new office L-1s.
Regular L-1A: A multinational company with an established U.S. office can file a regular L-1A petition to transfer foreign employees to the U.S. L-1As are initially granted for three years and can be extended for up to seven years.
Blanket L-1A: Eligible employers can file “blanket” petitions for numerous employee transfers simultaneously. To be eligible to file blanket petitions, the employer must:
- Engage in commercial trade or services;
- Have an office in the U.S. that has been doing business for more than one year;
- Have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
- Meet one of the following criteria:
- Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals in the last 12 months;
- Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
- Have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.
The EB-1C Immigrant Visa: A Path to Permanent Residence
The EB-1C is an immigrant visa that provides managers and executives at multinational companies with a path to permanent residency in the U.S.
Why Would You Want an EB-1C Visa as an Employee?
- Become a U.S. permanent resident: with an approved EB-1C petition, you qualify for a green card
Why Would You Want an EB-1C Visa as an Employer?
- Incentivize employee performance and offer a permanent immigration solution by providing employees a path to U.S. permanent residency
EB-1C Immigrant Visa Requirements
Both the employee and the employer must meet specific requirements for the EB-1C.
- The U.S. company must have been established for at least one year; and
- The U.S. company must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (a parent, a subsidiary, a branch, an affiliate, or a sister company).
- Must have been employed by the foreign entity for one continuous year within the three years; and
- Must have worked in an executive or manager role at the foreign entity.
Frequently asked questions about the L-1A and EB-1C
What is the difference between the L-1A and EB-1C?
The L-1A is a nonimmigrant visa, whereas the EB-1C is an immigrant visa.
Nonimmigrant visas provide foreign nationals temporary status in the U.S. The L-1A can be extended for up to seven years. After seven years on the L-1A, a foreign national will need to obtain another nonimmigrant visa, green card, or another form of work authorization to stay in the U.S.
Immigrant visas enable foreign nationals to apply for a U.S. green card. A pending or approved immigrant visa (such as EB-1C) does not give a foreign national legal status to stay and work in the U.S. If a foreign national is “current,” they can apply for an immigrant visa and a green card at the same time. However, they cannot apply for a green card without filing an immigrant visa or other qualifying petition.
Is the EB-1C a green card application?
Immigrant visa petitions like the EB-1C get you a “spot in line” to file a green card application. The EB-1C by itself does not get you a green card. Read more about the difference between immigrant petitions (Form I-140) and the adjustment of status green card application (Form I-485).
Can you file an L-1A or EB-1C petition from inside the United States?
Yes. You can file both the L-1A and EB-1C from within the U.S., as long as you have worked for the foreign entity related to your U.S. employer for at least one continuous year within the past three years.
Can you apply for an EB-1C while in the United States on L-1A status?
Yes, many immigrants file an EB-1C while in the U.S. on L-1A status.
Can the EB-1C be self-petitioned?
No. The EB-1C cannot be self-petitioned. Other immigrant visas, such as the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW are available for self-petition.
Do you have to go through the PERM labor certification process to get an EB-1C approved?
No. The PERM labor certification process is not required for the EB-1C.
L-1A vs EB-1C: Which One Is Right for You?
If you have more questions about the L-1A and EB-1C and which one is right for you or your employees, consider setting up a call with Legalpad’s team. Our immigration attorneys and customer support team would love to create a custom immigration strategy for you.