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Changing employers with the L-1 Visa

It is possible to change the employer stated on your US L1 Visa in certain cases and transfer to another company as long as you meet the legal requirements and meet criteria specifically defined.

Suppose you're planning to transfer to a company related to your L1 employer and have qualifying relations with the foreign company. In that case, you can easily change your employer on your L1 Visa

Take note, however, that you can't change and transfer to another company under the same L1 Visa. You have to file for an L1 petition for your new employment. Your employer must obtain USCIS approval by filing an L1 petition on Form I-129 with the "L" supplement. After approval, you can start working.

Changing jobs with the L1 Visa

If you initially worked as a specialized knowledge employee with an L-1B Visa, you can be promoted to an executive or managerial position in the same company or same employer. Similarly, executive or managerial employees can change jobs to specialized knowledge employees.

If your job duties have changed, this may be considered a new position that requires approval from the USCIS. Your employer must notify the USCIS of any significant changes to your employment. They must file an amended L1 petition at the time such change occurs.

If there's a job change from a specialized knowledge employee to an executive or managerial employee, the amended L-1 petition must filed 6 months before the employee's 5th work anniversary.

Employer and Employee Qualifications

To obtain a new L-1 Visa, both you and your employer must comply with some general qualifications:

Qualifications of the Employer

An foreign company that the prospective employee worked for one year in the previous three years must have qualifying relations with the petitioning employer through a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate relationship. Additionally, the employer must not only have an office but also be actively conducting business in the United States. Additionally, the employer must be able to run its operations without the potential employee.

Qualifications of the Employee

A prospective employee, on the other hand, must have been working for the qualifying organization abroad for 1 year in the last 3 years preceding the filing of the L-1 petition. Moreover, they must be employed by the petitioning employer for an executive or managerial position, or as a specialized knowledge employee.

Transferring an L-1 Visa to a different job within the same company

Whether you're being promoted from a specialized knowledge employee to a managerial or executive position or vice versa, the USCIS must be notified of any significant changes in your employment by way of an amended L-1 petition

It's worth taking note that this change may be more beneficial for specialized knowledge workers, who are holding an L-1B Visa, as their maximum permissible stay in the U.S. will be increased from 5 years to 7 years. You may avail of the 7-year stay only after you've been employed for the more senior position for at least 6 months.

Moreover, an application to obtain permanent residency in the U.S., also known as a green card, is relatively straightforward from the L-1A status as either a multinational manager or executive under the EB-1C employment-based immigration route.

Options for L-1 Visa holders looking to change employers

The options for L-1 Visa holders looking to switch jobs or employers are limited. This is because the L-1 Visa is tied to your current employer, that's why you can't accept any employment outside of your sponsoring employer's organization without a new L-1 petition.

Suppose the company you're planning to transfer to is related to your current L-1 employer and has a qualifying relationship with the foreign company you originally worked for. In that case, you can probably change employer for your L-1 Visa subject to the approval of the USCIS. However, if you're transferring to a different company that's unrelated then you would be unable to change employers unless you can establish from your employment history that you meet the 1-year foreign employment requirement and that there's a qualifying relationship.

Can you transfer an L-1 Visa to a different job and different employer?

To move to a different job with a different employer, you would need to satisfy all the relevant requirements for a new L-1 Visa, by theory. As in any L-1 petition, these requirements are:

  • a qualifying relationship with a foreign parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate; and

  • currently or will be doing business in the U.S. and at least one other country, either directly or through a qualifying organization, for the duration of the prospective employee's stay in the U.S. as an L-1 non-immigrant.

However, even if these requirements are met, you can't transfer to a new employer on the same L-1 Visa. You must have a new L-1 petition approved for your new employment.

Effects of a terminated L-1 Visa

Once your employment is voluntarily or involuntarily terminated, there might be options available for you to remain legally in the U.S. These could include submitting a request for a change of non-immigrant status or adjustment of status, requesting a document outlining "compelling circumstances" for employment authorization, or being the recipient of a legitimate petition to change jobs.

If one of these options occurs within 60 days, your authorised period of stay can exceed 60 days, even if you lose your L-1 status. If none of the options occur within the grace period, then you may need to leave the U.S. within 60 days or when your authorised period of stay ends, whichever is shorter.

Here at Davies & Associates, our experienced immigration attorney can help you determine which options to take once your L-1 Visa has expired.

Changing from L-1 to an H-1B Visa

An H1B Visa is a nonimmigrant visa needed when a US-based company hires a foreign worker to work in the U.S. for specialty occupations. It's not limited to multinational companies, and anyone with a bachelor's degree and a job offer from a U.S.-based company for a specialty position can apply. The terms "specialized knowledge" for the L-1B and "speciality position" for the H-1B are not synonymous. Specialized knowledge refers to knowledge that's specific to the multinational company, while a specialty position requires a at least a bachelor's degree to perform.

A change of status from an L-1B Visa to an H-1B Visa will involve finding employment with an H-1B sponsor. There are a few points you need to consider when changing visas such as:

  • A change of status from an L-1 Visa to an H-1B Visa will begin with a new petition from the H-1B employer. This application will be subject to the H-1B and not be cap-exempt. For the H-1B visa, there is a quota of 65,000 visa within a fiscal year and an additional quota of 20,000 for master’s degree holders. H-1B candidates are selected through a lottery system as a result of which there is no certainty.

  • An LCA certification must be filed with the Department of Labor by the H-1B employer.

  • Once the application is selected in the H-1B draw, the employer will then proceed to submit all the relevant documents to file the H-1B petition.

Process of changing an L-1 Visa to an H-1B Visa

If you already have a legitimate H-1B employer to help with your change of status, the rest of the process is for initiating a new application for an H-1B Visa. Once your petition is approved, the change in status might occur automatically without the need for you to appear at an interview.

The H-1B sponsoring employer will file a change fo status (from L-1 to H-1B) application on your behalf and the brief steps in this process are:

Step 1: Applying with the Department of Labor

Now, the sponsoring employer submits a Labour Condition Application Department of Labour approval. The application must include the following four points of attestation:

  • A guarantee of the salary meeting the prevailing wage standards for the job offered.

  • A guarantee of work security for current employees working at the company as such the job should not adversely affect their position or responsibilities.

  • The existing employees in the company were notified of the employer's intent to hire foreign talent.

  • There are no lockouts or strikes taking place.

Step 3: Labor Condition Application certification

The Department of Labour will give the sponsoring employer a certified copy of the approved Labour Condition Application after all the points of attestation in the prior phase have been accepted.

Step 4: Submission of relevant documents

After receiving the certified copy of the approved LCA, the sponsoring employer now proceeds to submit all the necessary documents such as the completed Form I-129, agreements, and employment and experience certifications among others. The H-1B petition is filed with the USCIS

Step 5: Payment of fees

The sponsoring employer is responsible for making sure that all applicable fiing fees are paid. These fees are borne by the employer; however, there may be other, optional expenses, such as premium processing (expedite fee), which the recipient may elect to pay.

You can also visit our article about L-1 Visa costs. Do not hesitate to inquire about our trusted L1 visa lawyers.

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Why make Davies & Associates Your L1 Visa Lawyers

The L-1 Visa can be highly complex, and while it can be proven easier than other visa categories, the USCIS has become stricter and more critical of L-1 visa petitions due to widespread abuse. To give you leverage in your L-1 Visa petition, it's highly crucial that you consult with the best immigration attorneys for the job now.

Here at Davies & Associates, we will assist you from the start until the end of your petition to make it efficient and to minimize the costs spent.

We have helped hundreds of clients in obtaining their L-1 Visa with a 100% success rate. We have assisted with both existing-office and new-office L-1 Visa applications no matter the size of the company.

Our corporate lawyers and immigration lawyers work closely to ensure that your business meets all the qualifications and requirements.

We also go beyond and can assist you with your L-1 Visa renewals, or when you want to switch to a Green Card to gain lawful permanent resident status.

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Eranjan Venura Parua
Eranjan Venura Parua
2 months ago

"After finding D&A through an internet search in 2020, my wife and I had several free consultations with David Cantor. Despite our initial attempt at filing for our E2 visa independently ending in failure, we decided to hire D&A for their expertise and support. Over the course of four long years, Verdie and Cristina were incredibly patient as we took our time to prepare for the E2 submission. Verdie became our E2 Attorney in 2021, and from the start, Verdie and Cristina's patience was evident. Despite our intermittent engagement over the years, they always treated us with the utmost attention. Working with Verdie and the D&A team was a pleasure; their professionalism and support were unwavering. Verdie's calm demeanor and succinct communication style made navigating the process much smoother, even during complex discussions. I wholeheartedly recommend Verdie and D&A - Davies & Associates, to anyone seeking an immigration law firm who can efficiently handle their case with precision and without unnecessary fanfare. Their ability to get things done speaks volumes about their dedication to their clients' success."

Jeremy Abernathy
Jeremy Abernathy
4 months ago

I had the pleasure of working with Verdie and Nessa to obtain my E2 Visa. Their in-depth knowledge and experience allowed me to be fully prepared in my application and they were able to answer all questions leading up to the Visa interview.

Saeed Muhammad
Saeed Muhammad
5 months ago

Verdie was an amazing attorney, providing exceptional client care throughout the process. He had a great depth of knowledge in all areas on business visas in the US.

Satyabrat Chowdhury
Satyabrat Chowdhury
8 months ago

I had a great experience with Davies & Associates. They are very thorough in the approach and their have experts in this field who know the domain very well.I would certainly be leaning onto them for any future needs as well.

Christine Envall
Christine Envall
a year ago

Getting my E2 Visa was a very in-depth process that took just over a year from when I committed to it, but 8 months from when I found a business I wanted to purchase. The only reason I'm giving 4 and not 5 stars is because the timeframe was a lot longer than expected from the initial information. Aside from the timing, Verdie and his team led me through the Visa process, providing all the guidance I needed to be successful, including advising me on the RIGHT type of Visa to suit my goals. Within the process I purchased a business and the greater Davies team included lawyer Rinat who helped me put the deal together. One of the biggest parts was my Business Plan which created from my info by Ana Ortiz, who did an incredible job. The process is certainly tedious and Verdie & Christina were always there to answer my questions, provide suggestions and advice and ensure I had all the documents I needed to support my application. I appreciated their patience with my questions and their advice and in the end, the application was so thorough the interview process was quick and easy. I highly recommend Davies & Associates and look forward to working with them again when it's time to renew my Visa.

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