Just as with any other kind of visa application, there is a detailed process an alien must go through in order to successfully apply for their L-1 nonimmigrant visa, whether it is L1-A or L-1B. Whether they are applying through the change of status procedure or obtaining a visa through consular processing (discussed in detail below), the following petition papers must be collected and sent to the USCIS by the petitioning employer:
The Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and the L Supplement. These can be downloaded for free from the USCIS web page.
A supporting letter from the U.S. employer, verifying that the alien will be working for them in the United States in the necessary capacity.
Other documents as evidence supporting the petition.
According to the USCIS, the petitioner must submit evidence of the following requirements for an L-1 visa:
Change of Status vs. Consular Processing: L-1 and Change of Status (COS) Application
Those aliens who are in the US with another nonimmigrant status have two options available to them to get their L-1 status. One is to apply for an L-1 with the USCIS and then request a COS, again with the USCIS. The other is to apply for an L-1 with the USCIS and after its approval, apply for a visa through a US Consular Office abroad, then use that L-1 visa to travel to the United States to gain L-1 status. Each agency has their own procedures and rules that means there are pros and cons to both options that every alien seeking nonimmigrant or immigrant status in the U.S. should be aware of.
Generally, in order to be eligible to petition for a COS in the United States, the alien:
Those in the United States on the following nonimmigrant categories are not eligible to change their status to L-1 (or any other nonimmigrant status): Visa Waiver, C, D, K-1 or K-2, S, TWOV, WT or WB.
The COS application procedure depends on the nonimmigrant status to which the alien wishes to change. For L-1 status, the prospective employer needs to file the aforementioned Form I-129, supporting letter of employment, and all documentary evidence with a request for a COS. Once approved, the alien will be issued an I-797A notice (COS approval).
For more information on how to change from one nonimmigrant status to another, please click here.
L-1 and Consular Processing:
An L-1 alien needs to be aware of the risks of applying for COS if they are already in the United States on another non-immigrant status, such as B-1 or B-2. While technically B-1 holders are permitted to change status to another non-immigrant status, doing so in order to avoid the more stringent application procedures associated with the new status (such as L-1) is considered fraudulent by the USCIS, since the alien failed to disclose their actual reason for seeking the B-1 visa. Such behavior could make it extremely difficult to obtain an L-1 visa for entry into the United States in the future. This is one of the reasons why consular processing is suggested in most situations.
If the alien is already outside of the U.S. and seeking L-1 status (as is most often the case), they must use consular processing. For another, if they are in the U.S. and already on another non-immigrant status, it is faster and less risky to use consular processing. Of course, the downside of consular processing for those aliens that are already in the United States is that they have to leave the country in order to get a visa to be able to come back on L-1 status.
In order to obtain their visa, the alien must present the following materials in person at the U.S. consulate once their approved L-1 petition has been sent to the National Visa Center:
For more information on consular processing, please click here.
Premium Processing v. Regular Processing
The employers filing working petitions, including L-1A and L-1B visas, may take advantage of a service offered by the USCIS called premium processing. Premium processing provides faster processing for your L-1 petition. The USCIS guarantees that within 15 calendar days, those who have chosen to take advantage of premium processing will receive an approval notice, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, a Request for Evidence (RFE), or notice of an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation for their L-1 (or another employment-based) petition.
Regular processing of an L-1 petition can take anywhere from three to five months. If the alien will be entering the United States under a blanket L-1 petition, approval can take only several weeks. Therefore, if the alien is not under a blanket petition, taking advantage of premium processing can greatly speed up the approval process.
In order to request premium processing, the petitioner must complete Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, along with the standard Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, which must accompany the L-1 visa petition. In addition to all other filing fees required for the application to be processed, there is a $1,225 Premium Processing fee that must be paid.
Since an L-1 petition is a working visa petition, the employer or their attorney must complete Form I-907 separately or concurrently with the Form I-129. The premium processing service fee must be submitted in a separate check or money order. The USCIS also accepts credit card, debit card, and electronic fund transfers from a U.S. bank. You may also include a postage paid and self-addressed courier deliver slip when filing Form I-907 to expedite the return results of the adjudication.
Some additional benefits of the premium processing program include:
For more information on L visa, please refer to the following links: