Acquiring a green card from an L1 visa
The L-1 transfer visa is considered to be a dual intent visa, which means that it gives the holder nonimmigrant privileges while giving them a clear path to a green card or permanent residence if there is a willing sponsor. Moreover, an approved labor certification or the filing of an immigrant visa petition doesn’t rule out the granting of an L1 status.
A dual intent visa means that the foreign national can simultaneously seek permanent residency along with their nonimmigrant status at a port of entry as otherwise, this immigrant intent can keep them from entering the U.S.
To acquire a green card from an L1 visa, you must first apply and get approved for an immigrant petition by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) either through adjust status or through an immigrant visa.
An immigrant visa classification means that such a visa leads to permanent residence. Meanwhile, a nonimmigrant visa is temporary and doesn’t lead to a green card.
There are nonimmigrant visas which doesn’t allow you to have an immigrant intent. Since the L1 visa is considered to be a dual intent visa, you can have the intent to eventually immigrate to the U.S.
With the complexity of the process, it is highly recommended that you consult with experienced and qualified L1 visa attorneys who can help pick the right option for your current immigration goals.
Processing time from an L1 visa to a green card
The green card process can take from 12 months to 18 months, depending on the L1 visa category and when the priority date becomes current.
The PERM Labor Certification stage can take around 8 months for L-1B holders, but this can take up to 2 years if the sponsor is subject to supervised recruitment or audit. Meanwhile, the processing time for Form-149 can take around 6 months, which can also be dependent on the caseload and the service status of the visa centre processing the petition. You have to wait for the priority date to become “current”, which for EB2 visa categories can take from a few months to years.
As for the Form I-485, it can take 8-15 months to be processed. The green card can be issued in around 6 months.
To define, an L1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows an employer to transfer foreign workers employed in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity to a U.S. company. Under this visa, the U.S. company and the foreign company must have a qualifying relationship such as a branch office, subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company among others.
The EB1C visa is an immigrant visa which closely resembles the L1 visa. It allows foreign companies to transfer an employee holding a managerial or executive position to a related U.S. company. Under this visa, the transferring employee must have worked for the foreign company continuously for a year within 3 years before the filing of the visa petition. If the employee is currently working for the U.S. company, they would need to have worked for the foreign company continuously for a year within 3 years before beginning to work for the U.S. company.
Certain requirements must be met before an EB1C visa can be acquired, and these requirements are as follows:
A qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the U.S. company such as a branch office, affiliate, or parent company among others.
The employee must have worked continuously for a year within 3 years before the filing of the petition for the foreign company. If the employee is currently working for the U.S. company, they must have worked for the foreign company continuously for a year within the 3 years before working for the U.S. company.
The employee must have worked for the foreign company in a managerial or executive position and must be going to the U.S. to assume the same role.
The U.S. company must be doing business for at least a year at the time the petition was filed.
Challenges of acquiring a green card from an L1 visa
As with other visa classifications, some challenges may arise during a transition from an L1 visa to a green card:
No job offer from a U.S.-based employer
One of the challenges L1 visa holders may have is having no job offer from an employer in the U.S. One of the paths to acquiring a green card is acquiring a job offer from a U.S. employer. Without such, the visa holder would not be able to adjust status or become a legal permanent resident.
The only exception to this challenge is when you’re applying for the EB2 visa under the National Interest Waiver classification.
Doesn’t possess the required skills or qualifications
The L1 visa holder may not be able to acquire a green card if they don’t have the required skills or qualifications for the position and may be denied a green card.
Don’t meet the required income level
Another challenge for the L1 visa holder is if they don’t meet the required income level for the position offered in the U.S., which may be a cause for a denial of a green card.
Costs of acquiring a green card from an L1 visa
There are various costs associated with acquiring a green card while on an L1 visa depending on the way they choose to acquire such a visa. Here’s a breakdown of the common costs:
Adjust of Status
Form I-485 – $750 to $1,140
Form I-140 – $700
Biometrics Fee – $85, if applicable
Premium Processing Fee – $2,500, optional
Form I-140 – $700
DS-260 Application Fee – $230
Affidavit of Support – $88, if applicable
Biometrics Fee – $85, if applicable
Alternatives to go from an L1 visa to green card
Aside from the EB1C visa, there are other visas which you can apply for to acquire a green card.
You can acquire a green card by having a U.S.-based employer sponsor you through a job offer under the EB2 or EB3 visa classifications. To do this, the employer must have an approved labor certification, which is issued through the U.S. Department of Labor and certifies that your employer attempted to hire a qualified U.S. employee but was unable to do so.
Under employer sponsorship, there are several types of visas which you can acquire:
The EB2 visa is an employment-based visa which allows foreign nationals possessing an advanced degree or exceptional ability to acquire lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
The EB3 visa, on the other hand, applies to all skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. Under this visa, skilled workers are considered as those who have a minimum of 2 years of training or work experience which is not of a temporary or seasonal nature, while a professional is someone who is required to have at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent. Meanwhile, unskilled workers are those who perform unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years of training or experience.
You can also acquire a green card through the EB5 visa. An EB5 visa is an immigrant visa which allows a foreign investor to acquire lawful permanent residency after making a minimum investment of $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area or $1.50 million in other areas.
Under this visa, the EB5 business must create at least 10 full-tile jobs for qualified U.S. employees.
An EB1A visa allows individuals with extraordinary abilities in a particular field to acquire a green card. Under this visa, you must show that you have an extraordinary ability, that you will continue to work in the U.S. in your field of extraordinary ability, and that the U.S. will benefit from your skills.
In this visa, extraordinary ability means that you are one of the few individuals who have risen to the top of your field and that you sustained national or international acclaim.
Compared to other visas, the L1 visa is a dual intent visa which allows you to simultaneously seek permanent residency along with your nonimmigrant status. Otherwise, the immigrant intent can keep a nonimmigrant visa holder from entering the U.S.
There are several pathways which you can traverse to acquire a green card, and it’s highly recommended that you consult with the best US immigration lawyers Singapore has to offer to give you the best immigrant visa options based on your circumstances and immigration goals.