The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits eligible foreign nationals to be admitted to the United States to occupy temporary jobs based on their professional background, skills, and education.
In this article, you will discover how to adjust your status from L-1B to H-1B.
L-1B Visa vs. H-1B Visa – Understanding the Difference
The L-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that permits:
- US employers to transfer an eligible foreign employee with specialized knowledge from one of its affiliated offices abroad to one of its US offices, or
- Foreign companies that do not yet have an affiliated US office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help in its establishment process
The initial period of stay granted to L-1B visa holders is one year. Depending on the applicant’s situation, it is possible to request for renewal of status in increments of up to two years. The maximum period of stay under L-1B status is five years.
Unlike the L-1B visa, the H-1B nonimmigrant classification is not limited to multinational companies. Given the popularity of this visa option, USCIS has a numerical limit on the number of H-1B visas issued annually.
Currently, the H-1B annual is 65,000 visas for each new fiscal year, with additional 20,000 visas for applicants who hold a master’s degree or higher from an accredited US institution.
How Can I Change My L-1B Visa to H-1B? – The Verdict
It is possible to change status from L-1B to H-1B. The first step is to find an employer to sponsor the H-1B visa, as applicants cannot self-petition with USCIS.
There is no special processing for adjusting status from L-1 to H-1B. Considering the applicant is already living in the United States, the processing period required from the employer’s application to the adjustment of status is not overwhelming.
The employer must file a Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the US Department of Labor (DOL). Once the LCA is approved, the DOL will issue a certified copy to the sponsoring H-1B employer.
The sponsoring employer must apply on the employee’s behalf by filing Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker). As the H-1B classification has been oversubscribed in recent years, USCIS uses a lottery mechanism to determine which applications will be processed.
The best approach is to apply within the H-1B window, which is usually in the early days of April. There are also several fees involved in the process, which employers are responsible for handling.
If the petition is selected in the H-1B lottery and approved, the former L-1B employee can start working under H-1B status on October 1st of the same year the application was submitted.
On the starting date of work, the employee’s status is automatically adjusted from L-1B to H-1B. Considering the stricter requirements of the H-1B visa and the complexities involved in the process to adjust status, consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure a successful outcome.