Parlaying L Status into Permanent Residency

Although the L-1 visa is a temporary, employment-based nonimmigrant visa, it is also a “dual intent” visa, meaning that L-1 holders and their dependents can apply for permanent residency without jeopardizing their L visa status or visa applications at U.S. consulates abroad. “Dual intent” visas allow aliens temporarily present in the U.S. for a preauthorized duration of time to have immigrant intent and manifest such by adjusting status. Many nonimmigrant classifications explicitly bar beneficiaries from having immigrant intent, and if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) discovers such an intent during or after adjudicating these nonimmigrant petitions, the applications are likely to be denied or the status retroactively revoked.

Fortunately for L-1 holders with aspirations to permanently settle in the United States, the L visa is a dual intent visa.

Enter the EB-1C

What’s even more beneficial for L-1 holders with immigrant intent is that there exists a specific employment-based immigrant preference category: the EB-1C visa for managers and executives. In fact, this first-preference visa classification was created precisely for alien transferees who meet L-1A requirements and are interested in becoming lawful U.S. permanent residents.

The EB-1C designation is part of the employment-based, first-preference visa category, the beneficiaries of which are among the most accomplished in their fields ranging from the arts and science to business, education, and sports. Congress has authorized a maximum of 40,000 of these EB-1 visas to be issued annually. (For more information on the first-preference category, be sure to click here.) 

EB-1C and L-1A Overlap

In essence, EB-1C requirements are practically identical to those of the L-1A nonimmigrant petition requirements, including the following similar criteria:

  • The alien must have been employed for one year within the three years preceding filing an EB-1C petition by an overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer, and said alien must be intending to work in the U.S. in a managerial or executive capacity.
  • The company must conduct business both in the United States and another country in the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and services.
  • The company must have been in existence in the United States for at least one year.

For more information on EB-1C requirements, including those specifically for the employer and alien, refer to this page.

Having L-1 status is not a prerequisite for applying for an EB-1C. But given the overlap between the two classifications, it’s clear why having been the beneficiary of an L-1A visa makes the process of applying for an EB-1C much easier.

Why should I go the EB-1C route for permanent residency?

The most notable advantage for an L-1A holder who’s seeking a green card through the EB-1C category is that labor certification is waived. Why is this an advantage? Simply put: time and money. Obtaining a labor certification is a time-consuming and pricey process, the end goal of which is determining whether a qualified U.S. worker is available to fill the position sought by the petitioning employer on behalf of an alien employee. (For more detailed information about labor certification, be sure to click here.)

A huge incentive for a prospective EB-1C beneficiary is that immigrant visa numbers are, generally speaking, always available for the first-preference category. What this means is that there’s no (or very little) time an alien has to wait between receiving an EB-1C visa and applying for an adjustment of status, and then ultimately earning a green card. (For more information on visa numbers and wait times, click here.)

Obtaining a Green Card through the EB-1C Visa

Briefly, the procedure for obtaining a green card through the EB-1C category is a relatively simple, two-step process:

  1. The petitioning employer submits to USCIS a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, on behalf of the EB-1C beneficiary.

  2. Upon approval of the I-140, the alien beneficiary submits a Form I-485 petition to USCIS, if said alien is currently located in the U.S., or undergoes consular processing, if located abroad. (For more detailed information on adjustment of status and consular processing, click here and here, respectively.)

What about L-1B holders?

For an alien in L-1B status, the EB-1C visa category is not as straightforward an immigrant visa petition route as it is for an alien in L-1A status. The obvious alternative immigrant visa category that L-1B holders, as skilled workers, should consider is the second-preference category of employment-based petitions, or EB-2 visas. Unlike the EB-1C, an EB-2 (with the exception of the National Interest Waiver category) does require labor certification.

If an L-1B holder meets requirements under the EB-1A, EB-1B, or National Interest Waiver categories, none of which requires an approved labor certification, he or she should alternatively consider those classifications.

Of course, other channels for obtaining a green card, such as family-based petitions, are also available to aliens in L-1 status. For more information on gaining permanent residency, refer to our article on the subject here.

For more information on the L-1 category, refer to the following links:

Updated 05/18/2017