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Table of Contents

Who qualifies for the L-1B visa?

What is considered ‘specialized knowledge’ for an L-1B visa?

How long can someone stay in the US on an L-1B visa?

How does the L-1B visa benefit a company?

Can L-1B visa holders apply for a green card?

How does an L-1B visa facilitate global hiring and managing a global workforce?

What is the process for obtaining an L-1B visa?

What are the legal and compliance considerations for L-1B visas?

How can a company demonstrate an employee’s specialized knowledge for an L-1B Visa application?

Differences between an L-1A and an L-1B visa

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

What is an L-1B visa

The L-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa specifically designed for employees within international companies who possess specialized knowledge relevant to their organization’s operations.

Part of the class of L1 visas, the L1-B is designed to facilitate the transfer of employees with specialized and hard to obtain knowledge.

Unlike the L1-A visa, the applicant need not have significant executive responsibility.

Here, we’ll explore the specifics of eligibility, the application process, and what makes this visa different from other ways to live and work in the US.

Who qualifies for the L-1B visa?

To qualify for the L-1B visa, an employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate, or branch office of the company outside the US for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding their application.

Examples of the types of employees who might successfully apply include:

  • A data analytics consultant
  • A graphic designer
  • A DEI specialist
  • A structural engineer
  • A patent lawyer with sector expertise

The key factor for eligibility is that the sponsoring entity should be able to argue that it would be very difficult to source local talent and would be significantly beneficial to transfer existing expertise instead. Specialist knowledge is key: this is the quality that an applicant must prove to obtain the L-1B visa.

💡 Need to check a candidate’s visa eligibility before creating an employment contract? With Deel’s Immigration platform, you can run a visa eligibility check in seconds. Alternatively, schedule a call with a Deel Immigration expert to establish the best visa route for you or a potential new hire

What is considered ‘specialized knowledge’ for an L-1B visa?

‘Specialized knowledge’ refers to knowledge that is unique to the company and not widely known within the industry. It involves an advanced understanding of the company’s products, services, or operations, and is not easily transferable to another individual.

In the words of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), specialist knowledge includes “either special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.”

Specialized knowledge, therefore, has two components:

  • In-depth knowledge of a company’s systems, procedures, or technology
  • Knowledge that would be extremely costly and time-consuming to transfer from individual to individual

How long can someone stay in the US on an L-1B visa?

An individual can initially stay in the US for up to three years on an L-1B visa. This period can be extended in two-year increments, with a total maximum stay of five years. This is a little different from the L-1A visa, which can be extended up to seven years.

💡To ensure the applicant and their family maintain legal status in the US, Deel Immigration provides timely reminders and alerts for upcoming visa renewal or extension deadlines. Additionally, we can handle all future applications for the visa holder, including continued support to becoming a US citizen via the green card route for permanent residence.

See also: Easy Visa Renewal: 4 Steps for Enterprise Workforce

How does the L-1B visa benefit a company?

The L-1B visa allows companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge to their US operations, enhancing productivity and growth. This transfer can include employees who are experts in the company’s products, services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures.

This allows a company to set up a US office quickly by importing staff who already have the in-depth knowledge to commence operations in a timely manner. It further enables the growth or diversification of existing US businesses by transferring talent from overseas.

The L-1B visa further promotes cultural sharing and collaboration by removing boundaries to international co-operation. This helps US businesses benefit from international talent, wherever it may be found, further enhancing a company’s competitiveness.

💡 Deel’s EOR visa sponsorship service provides a simple and accelerated solution to visa sponsorship. Businesses can hire and relocate employees and their dependents to the US without opening a local entity for a streamlined and hands-off visa procurement process.

Can L-1B visa holders apply for a green card?

Yes, L-1B visa holders can apply for a green card (permanent residency). The L-1B is a dual-intent visa, allowing holders to pursue permanent residency without affecting their L-1B status.

The benefit of this approach is that the L-1B visa allows the employee to live and work for up to three years, with additional years possible upon renewal. This lets them establish a base, and familiarity with US culture and customs, and may also allow them to bring their spouse and/or children over via the L-2 non-immigrant visa, which can be applied for and granted alongside an L-1B application.

The journey from an L1 visa to EB1C green card is a two-step process, which your immigration lawyer can manage:

  • Filing of form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker)
  • Filing of form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)

Oftentimes, both forms can be submitted concurrently. The process can take up to 12 months to complete.

💡 Deel offers a range of US visa and green card options for foreign employees and their dependents, including the O-1A Visa, EB-2 NIW green card, and more. Our immigration team has extensive knowledge of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidelines and Department of Homeland Security requirements.

How does an L-1B visa facilitate global hiring and managing a global workforce?

The L-1B visa supports global hiring by enabling the transfer of specialized knowledge employees to the US, ensuring essential knowledge is available regardless of location.

This visa category helps manage a global workforce by facilitating the cross-border transfer of knowledge and skills. It provides an established route to long-term residency and work, and a relatively secure route to obtaining a green card, which encourages skilled foreign workers to relocate.

See also: A Guide to Finding Global Talent

What is the process for obtaining an L-1B visa?

Employers must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition must demonstrate the employee’s specialized knowledge and the qualifying relationship between the foreign and US offices.

Upon approval, the employee can apply for the visa, which involves an interview at a US embassy or consulate and the payment of set fees. During an immigration interview the applicant must provide evidence of their responsibilities, specialist knowledge, and job offer.

The applicant must show that they can contribute unique knowledge and abilities to the organization’s office or function in the United States.

💡 With Deel Immigration, the L-1B visa application process is seamless. Deel’s legal team and attorneys will handle all the paperwork, facilitate consular visa stamping, and provide dedicated one-on-one support for the applicant and any accompanying family members.

Companies must ensure the employee has specialized knowledge and that there is a qualifying relationship between the US and foreign entities. Compliance with wage legislation and working conditions is also crucial to avoid penalties.

“Deel gives us access to hiring people in a compliant way, anywhere. Those are people that we wouldn’t have been able to hire without Deel, as we wouldn’t be able to open an entity in every country where we wanted to hire someone. It also enables us to be close to our customers, they are all over the world, so we need to be there too.” —Sanna Westman, Head of People at Planhat

How can a company demonstrate an employee’s specialized knowledge for an L-1B Visa application?

A company can demonstrate specialized knowledge by providing detailed descriptions of the employee’s unique expertise, including organizational charts, training records, and evidence of how their knowledge benefits the US operation.

Here are some typical examples of evidence that might prove pertinent:

Detailed job descriptions and responsibilities: The applicant can provide comprehensive documentation of their job role, highlighting tasks and responsibilities that require specialized knowledge unique to the company. This might include a breakdown of complex projects they've led or specialized processes they manage.

Proof of advanced training and certifications: Documents showing that the applicant has undergone specific training courses or achieved certifications that are not commonly available in the industry. These should be directly relevant to the specialized knowledge they possess and use in their role.

Evidence of contributions to key projects: The applicant can present case studies or summaries of significant projects where their specialized knowledge was essential. This could include innovations they introduced, complex problems they solved, or specialized equipment they operate that is critical to the company.

Internal and external recognition: Awards, recognitions, or testimonials from colleagues and industry peers that specifically acknowledge the applicant’s expertise and contributions. This could also include publications or presentations at industry conferences where they shared their specialized knowledge.

Proprietary knowledge documentation: Evidence that the applicant has in-depth knowledge of proprietary tools, technologies, systems, or methods developed by their company. This could be demonstrated through patents, proprietary software they helped develop, or internal documentation that outlines processes they have mastered or contributed to significantly.

These pieces of evidence help illustrate the depth and uniqueness of the applicant’s knowledge, supporting their L-1B visa application effectively.

💡 With Deel Immigration, preparing evidence is easy. Deel will onboard the applicant onto the user-friendly platform. They’ll be assigned a case manager and asked to provide their personal details and upload any supporting documentation to the platform. Depending on the visa type, this can include a passport, petitioner documents, such as articles of incorporation, and visa-specific documents like funding, press coverage, and a business plan.

Differences between an L-1A and an L-1B visa

While both the L-1A and L-1B visas facilitate the transfer of employees within multinational companies, they cater to distinct roles.

The L-1A visa targets executives and managers responsible for overseeing the company’s operations, while the L-1B visa is for employees who hold specialized knowledge essential to the company’s products, services, or operations.

The L-1A visa offers a longer maximum stay of seven years compared to five years for the L-1B, reflecting the ongoing need for leadership as opposed to project-specific expertise.

“I’ve never come across a team that moves so quickly, responds to questions in almost real-time and yet is so detail-oriented. After working with them, I wouldn’t consider working with anyone else for my immigration needs. They’re simply spectacular.” —Mohak Nahta, Founder and CEO, Atlys

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

Deel Immigration is transforming the immigration process, offering candidates a premier experience that blends cutting-edge technology with human touch, ensuring a transparent and smooth immigration journey.

Deel’s user-friendly platform offers self-serve functionality, an application status timeline, real-time status updates, access to a dedicated case manager, and exclusive relocation services, keeping you well-informed and supported at every turn.

Connect with the Deel immigration team today to expedite your visa process for yourself or a team member.

Schedule your appointment today

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