The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has different visa options for US temporary workers. The L-1 nonimmigrant classification permits intracompany transferees in managerial positions or specialized jobs to work and live temporarily in the United States.
Keep reading to discover the difference between L-1A visas and L-1B visas.
What is the Difference Between an L-1A and L-1B Visa? – The Basics
The L-1 visa category is divided into two subcategories – L-1A visas and L-1B visas. In both visas, an eligible employer must file a petition with USCIS requesting a visa on a qualified employee’s behalf.
The L-1A visa applies to intracompany transferees seeking to enter the United States to occupy managerial or executive positions working for a company located outside the country.
The L-1B visa applies to intracompany transferees who work in positions that require specialized knowledge. In many cases, a company established abroad may send an employee to the United States to establish a new office under L-1 status.
In such cases, USCIS requires the employer to prove:
- The proposed US office already has a physical location
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years before the application, and
- The proposed US office will support the L-1 manager or executive position within one year of the petition’s approval
L-1A Visas vs. L-1B Visas – Taking a Closer Look
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification permits eligible US employers to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated offices located abroad to one of its US offices.
The same classification allows eligible foreign companies which do not yet have an affiliated office in the United States to send an executive or manager to establish a new US office.
The employer must apply on the employee’s behalf by filing Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker). To qualify for L-1A status, the employee must:
- Have been working for a qualifying organization located outside the United States for one continuous year within the three years before US admission, and
- Enter the United States to occupy an executive or managerial position and provide services for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations
The L-1B nonimmigrant classification permits US employees to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge from one is affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices located in the United States.
Similar to the L-1A classification, eligible foreign companies may also rely on the L-1B visa to send a specialized employee to help in the establishment of a new US office. In both cases, the employer must file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) to apply with USCIS on the employee’s behalf.
To qualify for L-1B status, the employee must:
- Have been working for a qualifying organization located outside the United States for one continuous year within the three years immediately before your admission to the United States, and
- Enter the United States to perform in his or her area of specialized knowledge, working for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations