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Which is Better for a Green Card: L1 Visa or H1B Visa?

l1 or h1b which is better for green card

There isn't a definitive answer as the choice between L1 and H1B visas depends on individual circumstances and employer sponsorship. However, for individuals from India who are eligible for a green card under the EB2 category, opting for an H1B visa is a better choice, in comparison to an L1B visa.

  • This is because H1B visa holders with an approved I-140 petition can extend their H1B visa for 3 years and can continue doing so until they receive their green card, even after reaching the maximum allowed stay of six years.

  • In contrast, L1 visa holders are required to return to their home country after completing their authorized stay.

  • This is because L1 visa holders can not extend their visas based on an approved I-140, unlike H1B. L1 visa holders can apply for an adjustment of status (I-485) when their priority date is current.

  • However, L1 visa holders can participate in the H1B lottery each year during their authorized stay. If fortunate enough to be selected, they can then transition to the H1B visa.

If you qualify for the EB1 green card category, it doesn't matter whether you're an L1 or H1B visa holder. You can submit an adjustment of status (I-485) within your maximum stay period and obtain your green card. For individuals from other countries (other than India and China), green card processing is typically faster, so visa type does not have a significant impact.

Table of Contents: L1 or H1B Which is Better for a Green Card

Most individuals end up in the EB2 category, which has a backlog of several years, especially for countries like India there is a backlog of 10-15 years. So, if you are an L1 visa holder then you have to go back to your home country and wait. It's worth noting that your I-140 remains valid, maintaining its priority date.

Both L1 and H1B visa holders require an employer to file their green card. Self-petitioning is not an option for individuals with L1 or H1B visas; the employer must sponsor and initiate the green card process.

H1B vs L1 Visa

In addition to the green card benefits, H1B has other advantages, such as job flexibility, allowing you to change employers. On an L1 visa, this flexibility is restricted, as L1 visa holders can only undertake intra-company transfers within the same employer. Furthermore, dependents of L1 visa holders (with L2 status) enjoy certain advantages over H1B dependents, as they can work without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

What is an H1B Visa?

An H1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows foreign workers to come to the United States and work in specialty occupations. These jobs usually require a higher level of education, like a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience. H1B visas are often used by professionals in fields such as technology, science, engineering, and medicine.

The visa is usually sponsored by an employer in the U.S., and it allows the holder to work for that specific employer for a certain period, typically up to six years. During this period foreign workers can switch their jobs if they find another sponsoring party with better employment opportunities.

What is an L1 Visa?

An L1 visa is also a type of non-immigrant visa that allows multinational companies to transfer employees from their foreign offices to their offices in the United States. There are two subcategories of L1 visas: L1A for managers and executives, and L1B for employees with specialized knowledge.

The visa is typically used for intra-company transfers, enabling employees to work in the U.S. for a specific period, often up to five or seven years. The employee must have been working for the company abroad for a certain duration, and the transfer is usually temporary, allowing the employee to gain experience and contribute to the U.S. branch of the company.

Difference Between H1B and L1 Visa

Below are some key differences between an H1B visa and an L1 visa:

H1B Visa

L1 Visa

Duration of stay

6 years

5 years for L1B 7 years for L1A

Key criteria

Have a job offer from a US employer who is willing to sponsor your H1B.

Employed for the company (sponsoring party) for at least one continuous year within the past 3 years.

Family, or Dependents

Get H4 visa Can travel to the US along with primary visa holder Need EAD to work

Get L2 visa Can travel to the US along with primary visa holder No need for EAD to work

Get a green card?



Can change jobs to another company?




Yes (with an 85,000 annual cap)

No lottery (no cap limit)

Grace period after job loss

60 days

Minimum wage requirement

Yes, based on your role and location

No minimum wage requirement

FAQs on L1 or H1B Which is Better

Is H1B better than L1?

H1B visa offers more flexibility as compared to an L1 visa who wish to work in the US for a longer period.

Can an L1 visa holder apply for the H1B lottery?

Yes, your employer can apply for the H1B lottery each year until you are selected. It's common for individuals to switch from L1B to H1B status if they initially come to the U.S. on L1B and later secure an H1B visa through the lottery.

How long does it take to process the L1 I-485 application?

8 to 10 months depending upon the current processing time of USCIS.

How long does it take to process the L1 I-140 application?

The processing time for I-140 for L1 visa holders can vary from a few days (within 15 days if applied in premium) to several months (6 to 9 months for normal processing).

Which is better L1A or L1B for the green card?

L1A is a better option as you might be eligible to file a green card under the EB1 category which is faster as compared to the rest of employment-based green cards.

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