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H1B Vs. L1: How Both Visas Differ
May 8, 2022
4 mins
Close up view of USA Visa Application Form

In this article, you will learn about the following:

List of differences between the H1B and L1 visa.

The L1 and H1B Visas

The prospect of working, living, and eventually settling in the US is a dream harbored by millions of foreigners from across the globe. There is such an irresistible lure to legally enter the US that nothing discourages them from acquiring temporary work visas such as H1B, L1A, and L1B. These visa types allow US-based employers to hire foreign employees to work in the US.

For a better understanding of L1 and H1B visas, also read the Fact-sheet: L1 to H1 Change of Status.

The H-1B visas are typically used for specialized occupations, and the L1 is issued for work managerial or executive capacity. Since both visas are employment-based, it is easy to confuse one with the other. In this blog, we detail the difference between L1 and H1B visas based on the various aspects. Let's take a look.

H1B Visa Versus L1 Visa

Feature 1: Purpose

H1B Visa: Used by US-based employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations.
L1 Visa: Used by organizations to transfer employees from a foreign branch to the one in the United States.

Feature 2: Quota or Cap

H1B Visa: The H1B Lottery picks 85,000 applicants, of which 65,000 belong to the regular cap. Of these, 6,800 petitions are reserved for Singapore and Chile citizens under certain programs. The remaining 20,000 belong to applicants with a master's degree from the US.
L1 Visa: There is no quota or cap for the L1 visa.

Feature 3: Sponsor

H1B Visa: The employer is responsible for sponsoring the H1B visa and bearing the expenses on behalf of the foreign employees.
L1 Visa: The parent company sponsors the visa, even if it is located in another country.

Feature 4: Employer Eligibility

H1B Visa: The employer can run a small startup, business, or a large organization based purely in the USA.
L1 Visa: The employer should be a multinational organization. They must have a branch in the US or should at least be opening a new branch in a US-based location.

Feature 5: Existing Salary

H1B Visa: Employers must pay the existing wages paid to other employees working in that location.
L1 Visa: Although there are no such requirements, paying significantly low wages may cause problems for the employer.

Feature 6: The Payroll

H1B Visa: The foreign employee must be on the US-based organization's payroll.
L1Visa: The employee can either be on the foreign company or the US company's payroll, and they must be paid only the allowance in the US.

Feature 7: Previous Work Qualifications

H1B Visa: Does not require any prior work experience with the employer.
L1 Visa: In the three years immediately preceding entry, the employee must have worked for the employer as a Manager, Executive, or Special Knowledge. However, not all employers have this option.

Feature 8: Approval from the Department of Labor

H1B Visa: A Labor Condition Application (LCA) approved by the Department of Labor is a mandatory prerequisite for filing the H1B petition. The employer must attest that qualified American employees are unavailable for the job positions offered to foreign employees.
L1 Visa: No approval is necessary. Also, L1 workers cannot be substituted by American employees.

Feature 9: Change of Employer

H1B Visa: Employees with an H1B visa can change employers multiple times if their H1B status is valid. The new employer is responsible for filing the H1B Transfer petition with the USCIS.
L1 Visa: Employees on an L1 visa are not allowed to transfer to another company while still on an L1 visa. The new employer must file a fresh L1 visa petition to do so.

Feature 10: Dependants

H1B Visa: The H1B holder's spouse, unmarried children, and parents are the "dependant family members" who can study and live in the US on an H4 visa. However, they must apply for an EAD or Employment Authorization Document to have a job.
L1 Visa: All dependant family members need an L2 visa and an EAD to be employed in the US.

Feature 11: Maximum Duration

H1B Visa: Although six years is the maximum duration for an H1B visa, it is possible to extend it. If the applicant has already spent time in the US on an L visa, that time is counted towards the maximum allowed duration.
L1 Visa: The L1 visa has no extensions. The L1A has a duration of seven years, and the L1B lasts for five years. If the applicant has previously spent their time on H visa, that duration will be included with the maximum allowed duration.

Also Read: The H1B Visa Duration Information Hand-book

Feature 12: Minimum Education Qualification

H1B Visa: A bachelor's degree or an equivalent is a must for an H1B visa. The applicant must also have a specialty occupation that requires such educational qualifications.
L1 Visa: No degree is required. Even if the applicant has a degree, it need not be in a specialized field.

Feature 13: Blanket Petition

H1B Visa: Blanket petitions are not available. Individual petitions must be filed for each proposed h1B worker.
L1 Visa: Blanket petition is available, and it expedites the visa process and removes the necessity for the organization to show eligibility each time they want to sponsor an employee.

Feature 14: Green Card

H1B Visa: H1B employers require a PERM Labor Certification approval to obtain a green card for their H1B employees.
L1 Visa: For L1A visa holders, the EB1C category allows them to file for green cards and avoid PERM Labor Certification. They can usually get their green cards in less than a year. Employers of L1B require a PERM Labor Certification.

To Conclude

Always remember that both H1B and L1 are Dual Intent, Employment-based, non-immigrant visas that allow foreigners to work and live temporarily in the US. However, it is also important to know the differences because you may qualify only for one visa type.
Techfetch H1B is a trusted name for thousands of applicants and organizations seeking guidance with H1B visa processes. To know more about the H1B and L1 visa, please visit TechFetch H1B.

**Disclaimer: All H1B processes are subject to change. Kindly refer to the USCIS official website for the latest updates.

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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