The L-1A visa is a non-immigrant employment visa that allows a qualifying company to send a qualifying owner, manager, or executive employee to a qualifying related U.S. company with existing offices in the U.S. as an executive or manager or send the owner, manager, executive as manager or executive to the U.S. to establish an office in the U.S.
The qualifications for the L-1A non-immigrant visa and EB1-C employment based visa are similar. Qualifying executives and managers can apply for an EB-1C visa when the petitioning U.S. organization has been doing business for at least 1 year, as an affiliate, a subsidiary, or as the same organization that employed the manager or executive abroad.
To qualify, the owner, manager, or executive must have been employed outside the U.S. for at least 1 year of the last 3 years preceding the filing by the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employing organization and must be seeking to enter the United States to continue employment with the organization as a manager or executive. An executive is generally an employee within senior hierarchy with the ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. A manager is generally an employee with the ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. A manager may also be an employee with oversight over an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.
Procedure for transitioning to EB-1C
A qualifying U.S. employer must file an EB1-C I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on behalf of the qualifying employee. A qualifying employee need not be in the U.S. for the U.S. employer to file an EB1-C immigrant petition on their behalf. While a qualifying employee is most often in L-1A status, the qualifying employee need not be in L-1A status to have an EB1-C I-140 immigrant petition filed on his or her behalf. Further, a qualifying employee lawfully present in the U.S. may be in the U.S. in any legal visa status including: B visitor; H1B Professional; E Treaty owner, manager, or essential employee; and even L-1B specialized knowledge employee; or an extraordinary person in O-1 status.
The date the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the I-140 establishes the priority date for green card availability. The priority date starts the applicant's place in line for filing a green card application. A current priority date means a green card is immediately available and there is no waiting to file the green card application. When the priority date is current, the L-1A visa holder, or any other visa holder lawfully in the U.S., may file an application to adjust their status to permanent resident. Once, the I-140 is approved a qualifying employee electing not to file a green card application for adjustment in the U.S. may file for the immigrant visa through consular processing. A qualifying employee outside of the U.S. without a legal status in the U.S. must file an immigrant petition through consular processing.
To adjust a visa status to permanent resident the applicant and family members must each submit a completed I-485 to the USCIS with the USCIS filing fee. The Form I-485 is usually submitted with related forms for work and travel authorization. A Form I-485 green card application may be filed concurrently with the I-140 immigrant petition, but is not adjudicated by the USCIS until approval of l-140 petition. Unless, necessary to file concurrently we recommend filing the I-485 after the I-140 approval. Because, the USCIS separates the I-140 and I-485 anyway and in the past USCIS has been slower in adjudicating the green card application when concurrently filed than if filed with an EB1-C I-140 I-797 Approval Notice. Processing of the form has generally taken around six months, but processing times vary. USCIC filing fees are subject to change until that date. When consular processing is requested USCIS forwards the EB1-C I-140 Approval to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC gathers documentation from the applicant and accompanying family members who travel to a U.S. consulate or embassy for an interview to receive an immigrant visa. Processing times vary, but average between four to six months to a year. The fees involved are subject to change until the date of filing.
Benefits of the EB-1C visa classification
EB-1C is known as a priority worker I-140 immigrant petition which most often has an immigrant visa immediately available without the long visa wait times other categories experience. Further, with an EB-1C immigrant petition there is not a conditional permanent resident period as there is with EB-5 immigrant petitions. And, the EB-1C classification does not require advertising the position as does an employer's sponsorship through PERM Labor certification. If you are considering permanent residency and wish to change your immigration status, an EB-1C might be the right choice if you were employed with qualifying related organization outside the U.S. as a qualifying executive or manager and a qualifying U.S. organization will sponsor your EB-1C immigrant transfer no matter your current U.S. visa status. Better yet, if you have L-1A visa status.
While smaller qualifying organizations find the employee transfer from an L-1A visa to an EB-1C visa between qualifying organizations challenging. Obviously, qualifying employment for obviously qualifying organizations is a relatively simple process to transition from an L-1A visa to an EB-1C visa. To find out more read our article at