The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa with strict time limitations. Nevertheless, it is also a dual intent visa, which means that it is OK to seek permanent residence while you are in the US in L-1 status. You can also seek permanent residence for your spouse and children. Following is a brief description of how you might go about obtaining permanent residence in the US starting from L status.
The EB-1C Immigration Visa
To obtain a green card, you will need to apply for lawful permanent residence in the US based on a particular immigrant visa classification. You will then need to submit an immigration petition to the USCIS, obtain USCIS approval, and then either adjust your status to permanent residence within the US or apply for an immigrant visa at a US embassy or consulate overseas.
The EB-1C immigration visa is very similar to the L-1A visa, with the major difference being that if offers permanent residence instead of temporary worker status. It is for this reason that if you came to the US in L-1A status, the EB1C visa may well be your best bet. L-1B holders may face somewhat more difficulty (see below for details).
Similarities Between L1A and EB1C Requirements
The requirements for obtaining EB1C immigraton status are almost the same as the requirements for obtaining L-1A status. Both statuses require a qualifying relationship between a US company and a foreign company, one year or continuous employment overseas, and a job description of manager or executive.
Differences Between L1A and EB1C Requirements
Although the L-1A and the EB1C are quite similar in many respects, important differences do exist:
- Although L-1A status allows you to transfer to a new office, EB1C status requires your office to have been doing business for at least one year prior to your application filing date.
- Since EB1C status allows you to remain in the US permanently while L status does not allow you to remain more than 7 years, you can expect that the USCIS will scrutinize an EB1C application for more thoroughly than it will an L-1A application. Having an approved L-1A application does not guarantee that your EB1C application will be approved. You will need to pay particular attention to your supporting documentation — the company business plan, for example.
- Another important difference between the L-1 visa is that you can obtain one on the basis of specialized knowledge without serving as an executive or manager. This option does not apply to EB1C applications (although it is not necessarily impossible for an L-1B holder to obtain EB1C status — see below).