Know the similarities and differences between the H-1B and L-1 visas

H-1B and L-1 visas

USA’s L-1 and H-1B visas are two most popular non-immigrant work visas and due to certain similarities, it can be difficult to differentiate and decide between the two in choosing a route into the country.

While the L-1 is more appropriate for those that work for multinational companies, the H-1B is more appropriate for those that wish to work for American companies and have more flexibility in their job.


What is the L-1 visa?

L-1 visa is also known as the intra-company transferee visa, is a non-immigrant visa category that is designed to allow multinational companies to transfer employees from foreign branches to locations within the US.


What is the H-1B visa?

An H-1B visa allows US employers to employ new foreign workers in specialty occupations where it grants work permit to the visa holders.

Below mentioned are the main similarities and difference between the two visas:

CriteriaL-1 VisaH-1B Visa
Dual intent (Do not need to demonstrate any ties to their home country, and can apply for Green Card without jeopardising visa status)


Premium ProcessingYes ($1,225)Yes ($1,440)
Who can applyEmployee must have worked for an overseas branch office of the US company for at least one year out of the last three years.

Employee must have worked as a manager, executive or specialized knowledge worker for this time.

Any professional looking to be employed by an American company.
QuotaNot fixed85,000 (every government fiscal year)

65,000 for overseas workers in specialty level occupations with at least bachelor degree.

20,000 for specialty workers with a postgraduate degree from a US academic institution.

Wage RequirementsNoThe ‘prevailing wage’, which means the average wage of similarly skilled workers in the same role or  the same wage the employer pays to similarly skilled workers, if higher
PayrollCan be on the payroll of a US company, or an overseas company.Must be on the payroll of a US company.
Dependent VisasL-2H-4
Education RequirementNoneAt least a US bachelor’s degree or equivalent
DurationL-1A: initially 3 years (one year for a new office); extendable to 7 years

L-1B: initially 3 years (one year for new office); extendable to 5 years

Initially 3 years; extendable to 6 years
Green CardCan applyCan apply
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