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Employment-Based Green Cards for Permanent Residency


At a glance
EB-1
EB-2
EB-3

Green Card Snapshot: Requirements, Process and More

Employment-based (EB) green cards are a valuable tool to attract and retain foreign talent, allowing U.S.-based companies to maximize their competitive edge and promote economic growth. Green cards also provide stability and longevity that many foreign nationals seek, which helps businesses reduce turnover and grow at a faster rate. Here’s a brief overview of the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 green cards to help you decide which category meets your needs.

For a comprehensive overview of a specific green card, click the corresponding tab above. Below you will find more information on the green card application, process, requirements, and eligibility rules.

EB-1 EB-2 EB-3

Who's Eligible

Workers of extraordinary ability (EB-1A), outstanding university professors and researchers (EB-1B), executives and managers of multinational companies (EB-1C) Professionals with advanced degrees, exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business, or people whose work benefits the national interest of the United States Professionals, skilled workers, other or skilled workers

Length of Work Authorization

Indefinite Indefinite Indefinite

Are renewals necessary?

Yes, every 10 years Yes, every 10 years Yes, every 10 years

Requires PERM Labor Certification processing?

No Yes Yes

Dependent green card availability

Individuals may concurrently file green card applications for their spouse and minor children Individuals may concurrently file green card applications for their spouse and minor children Individuals may concurrently file green card applications for their spouse and minor children

EB-1 Green Card Benefits

Employers aren’t required to test the labor market to see if there are any U.S. workers available due to the high level of skill required for these roles — which saves lots of time during the application preparation process.
This green card category has the fastest processing time since the petitions aren’t subject to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services backlogs..

Key EB-1 Green Card Requirements

EB-1 green cards require a very specific candidate whose achievements are nationally and internationally renowned – meaning qualifying candidates are rare.
If your employee has an approved H-1B visa, and filed under the master’s or advanced degree lottery, he or she may qualify for the EB-1 green card.

1. Workers of extraordinary ability
Defined as those with extraordinary expertise in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
- The individual must be nationally or internationally known for their achievements.

2. Outstanding university professors or researchers, such as:
- Higher learning educators held in high esteem in the international academic community for their achievements.
- Accomplished researchers in private companies that employ at least three full-time researchers.

3. Executives or managers of multinational companies

Indefinite, yet the physical green card must be renewed every 10 years.

1. Workers of extraordinary ability (EB-1A category) are defined as those with specific expertise in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
Requirements: Documentation of at least three notable, public achievements and recognitions that demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim as an industry leader.

2. Outstanding university professors or researchers may qualify for an EB-1B green card if they are held in high esteem in the international academic community for their achievements.
Requirements: Proof of a major one-time achievement, such as receiving a Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, Olympic medal, etc.
Additional requirements:
• Three years of experience in teaching or research in a specific academic area.
• An offer of employment from a college or university, in a position that offers tenure or a track to tenure.
• At least two qualifying examples of documented achievement.

3. Executives or managers of multinational companies being transferred to jobs in the United States may be eligible under the EB-1C category if they meet the guidelines below.
Requirements:
• Worked for a multinational company outside of the United States for at least one of the three years preceding submission of an EB-1 green card petition.
• Previously worked in a managerial or executive role.
• The U.S. employer can prove it has been in business for at least one year, and must provide evidence of the expat’s professional experience level.

Application filing fee: $1,925

Premium processing: Expedited application processing is only available for the extraordinary ability and outstanding researcher EB-1 green card category. It’s not available for EB-1 multinational manager or executives.

Individuals may concurrently file green card applications for their spouse and minor children along with their green card application. While the green card applications are pending, any dependent may apply for work and travel authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

A maximum of 140,000 applicants can be awarded employment-based green cards per year. No country may receive more than 7 percent of the total green cards in this quota.

Yes, they can. When the primary applicant’s priority date becomes current, the recipient’s spouse and minor children may also apply to adjust status to obtain their green cards.

Employers aren’t required to conduct a labor market test, called PERM Labor Certification, which involves publishing job ads and completing other recruitment activities to ensure there are no willing and able U.S. citizens to fill the open green card role. The processing time is also much quicker than other green card categories, since there is typically no backlog for any EB-1 green card category.

Additionally, since the green card grants permanent residency, there’s no risk of your employee losing his or her work authorization due to expirations and max-out dates.

Getting an employment based green card is a complex process requiring multiple steps. Wait times vary depending on the worker’s country of origin and employer, and the entire process can take years to complete.

EB-2 Green Card Benefits

Grants permanent work authorization.
This employment-based green card has laxer eligibility guidelines than the EB-1 green card.

Key EB-2 Green Card Requirements

Successful applicants often move faster through the process than those in other categories, since fewer qualified candidates exist.
The employer undergoes a mandatory recruitment process to ensure there are no ready, willing and able U.S. workers who are qualified for the position.

Qualified applicants include:

1. Professionals who hold advanced degrees.
2. Expats with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
3. Professionals whose work benefits the national interest of the United States.

Indefinite, yet the physical green card must be renewed every 10 years.

1. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees

The professional must have earned an advanced academic degree or equivalent to qualify.

Additional requirements:
• The job being filled must normally call for a worker with specific higher education.
• Foreign nationals must provide official academic records or diplomas.
• Equivalent work experience requires evidence of an undergraduate degree, as well as letters from current (or former) employers showing at least five years of progressive work experience in a specific specialty or field.

2. Foreign Nationals with Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business

Professions include: lawyers, doctors, physicists, economists, analysts, professional athletes, artists and opera singers.

Requirements: Evidence of three qualifying criteria must be shown, such as:
• Evidence of extensive higher education.
• Letters of recommendation from renowned peers in the field.
• Membership in a respected and related professional association.

3. Professionals Whose Work Benefits the National Interest of the United States

Professionals with exceptional ability, and whose employment in the United States has a profoundly positive national impact, may be eligible for a National Interest Waiver. Note: Applying for a National Interest Waiver does not require the PERM process nor a formal job offer.

Requirements:
• Must provide evidence that work will have a positive impact on the United States, and benefit one of the following:
o The U.S. economy
o Wages and working conditions of U.S. workers
o Education and training programs for U.S. children and under-qualified workers
o Health care
o Affordable housing for young or older, less-affluent U.S. residents
o The U.S. environment (by efficiently using national resources)
o International cultural understanding, or the worker must be requested by a U.S. governmental agency

• Must meet at least three specific criteria to be eligible, such as documented proof of professional certification or a letter displaying 10 years of work experience in the field

The PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) Labor Certification process protects skilled U.S. workers from displacement by less-skilled foreign workers. Companies must prove they took reasonable measures to fill an open position with a U.S.-based worker.

This multi-step process typically takes 10 to 12 months and is required for both EB-2 and EB-3 green cards. PERM certification must be completed prior to filing for a green card, so it’s recommended that HR professionals thoroughly understand what’s involved to avoid delays.

The PERM process consists of two parts:
Recruitment: This step involves obtaining a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor, posting a series of job ads and reviewing candidates’ qualifications.

Filing: This step requires the employer to produce information related to the job (duties, location, prevailing wage, etc.), recruitment process details and information about the applicant’s ability to fill the role.

Consulate application filing fee: $1,925.

Premium processing: This service is available for one stage of the EB-2 green card application process, filing Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. However, it’s not available for other portions of the application, including the PERM Labor Certification process.

Unlimited extensions permitted 18 months at a time.

Individuals may concurrently file the green card applications for their spouse and minor children along with their green card application. While the green card applications are pending, any dependent may apply for work and travel authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

A maximum of 140,000 applicants can be awarded employment based green cards per year. No country may receive more than 7 percent of the total green cards in this quota.

Yes, they can. When the primary applicant’s priority date becomes current, the recipient’s spouses and minor children may also apply to adjust status to obtain their green cards.

This employment-based green card has laxer eligibility guidelines than EB-1. However, the time-consuming PERM Labor Certification process is a prerequisite. The PERM process is designed to test the labor market to ensure there are no ready, willing and able U.S. workers who could qualify for the job offer.

The expat must meet at least three specific criteria to be eligible, such as documented proof of professional certification or a letter displaying 10 years of work experience in the field.

Getting an employment-based green card is a complex, multi-step process. Wait times vary depending on the worker’s country of origin and employer, and the entire process can take years to complete.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives a massive volume of employment-based green card applications every year, creating a significant backlog. As a result, the U.S. Department of State issues the monthly Visa Bulletin, which provides updates regarding dates for filing applications and application final action dates.

Here’s how to decipher the Visa Bulletin tables:

C = Current
There is no backlog for the particular category.

U = Unauthorized
No green cards can be issued for that category.

Listed Date = Filing Application Date/Application Final Action Date
Each employment-based green card category has two Visa Bulletin dates, the Filing Application Date and the Application Final Action Date.

The Final Action Date table reflects the priority dates in which USCIS is adjudicating I-485 cases, while the other Filing Application Date table reflects the priority dates to which a person can file his or her I-485 case. For example, the India EB-2 priority dates are July 1, 2011 and May 1, 2005. If you have a priority date of July 1, 2011 or earlier, you can submit your I-485 case. However, USCIS will not approve your I-485 unless you have a priority date of May 1, 2005 or earlier.

The Final Action Date table reflects the priority dates in which USCIS is adjudicating I-485 cases, while the other Filing Application Date table reflects the priority dates to which a person can file his or her I-485 case. For example, the India EB-2 priority dates are July 1, 2011 and May 1, 2005. If you have a priority date of July 1, 2011 or earlier, you can submit your I-485 case. However, USCIS will not approve your I-485 unless you have a priority date of May 1, 2005 or earlier.

EB-3 Green Card Benefits

The green card type has the most relaxed requirements, as applicants with either a bachelor’s degree, two years of training or under two years of work experience may apply.

Key EB-3 Green Card Requirements

The EB-3 category is the most common green card classification and has the highest demand. As a result, there is a lengthy average approval waiting period of six to nine years. It can be even longer due to per-country allotments.

1. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent) that will fill a role requiring a college degree. Examples include teachers, architects and engineers.

2. Skilled workers with at least two years of training or work experience, who may or may not hold a college degree.

3. Other or unskilled workers who will be filling a job that requires less than two years of training or experience. Examples include nannies, housekeepers, groundskeepers and nurse’s aides.

Indefinite, yet the physical green card must be renewed every 10 years.

1. Professionals
• You must be able to prove the applicant has a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent). Additionally, it must be proven that the bachelor’s degree is the normal, entry-level requirement for the position.
• There must be no qualified U.S. workers available to fill the green card role.
• You or the employee may not substitute years of on-the-job experience or education for a formal bachelor’s degree.

2. Skilled Workers
If you’re sponsoring someone under the skilled worker designation, you must be able to prove they have at least two years of job experience or training, and they will perform work that there are no qualified U.S. citizens available for.

3. Unskilled or Other Workers
For this subcategory, the applicant must be able to perform unskilled labor (defined as requiring less than two years of training or experience) for a role that does not have U.S. citizens available to perform.

The PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) Labor Certification process protects skilled U.S. workers from displacement by less-skilled foreign workers. Companies must prove they took reasonable measures to fill an open position with a U.S.-based worker.

This multi-step process typically takes 10 to 12 months and is required for both EB-2 and EB-3 green cards. PERM certification must be completed prior to filing for a green card, so it’s recommended that HR professionals thoroughly understand what’s involved to avoid delays.

The PERM process consists of two parts:
1. Recruitment: This step involves obtaining a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor, posting a series of job ads and reviewing candidates’ qualifications.
2. Filing: This step requires the employer to produce information related to the job (duties, location, prevailing wage, etc.), recruitment process details and information about the applicant’s ability to fill the role.

Government form filing fee: $1,925

Premium processing: This service is available for one stage of the EB-3 green card application process, filing Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. However, it’s not available for other portions of the application, including the PERM Labor Certification Process.

Individuals may concurrently file the green card applications for their spouse and minor children along with their green card application. While the green card applications are pending, any dependent may apply for work and travel authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

A maximum of 140,000 applicants can be awarded employment-based green cards per year. No country may receive more than 7 percent of the total green cards in this quota.

Yes, they can. When the primary applicant’s priority date becomes current, the recipient’s spouses and minor children may also apply to adjust status to obtain their green cards.

This employment-based green card has laxer eligibility guidelines than EB-1. However, the time-consuming PERM Labor Certification process is a prerequisite. The PERM process is designed to test the labor market to ensure there are no ready, willing and able U.S. workers who could qualify for the job offer.

The expat must meet at least three specific criteria to be eligible, such as documented proof of professional certification or a letter displaying 10 years of work experience in the field.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives a massive volume of employment-based green card applications every year, creating a significant backlog. As a result, the U.S. Department of State issues the monthly Visa Bulletin, which provides updates regarding dates for filing applications and application final action dates.

Here’s how to decipher the Visa Bulletin tables:

C = Current
There is no backlog for the particular category.

U = Unauthorized
No green cards can be issued for that category.

Listed Date = Filing Application Date/Application Final Action Date
Each employment-based green card category has two Visa Bulletin dates, the Filing Application Date and the Application Final Action Date.

Priority Dates

The Final Action Date table reflects the priority dates in which USCIS is adjudicating I-485 cases, while the other Filing Application Date table reflects the priority dates to which a person can file his or her I-485 case. For example, the India EB-2 priority dates are July 1, 2011 and May 1, 2005. If you have a priority date of July 1, 2011 or earlier, you can submit your I-485 case. However, USCIS will not approve your I-485 unless you have a priority date of May 1, 2005 or earlier.


H Visas - Specialty Workers for Temporary Assignments


At a glance
H-1B
H-1B1
H-3

H Visa Requirement Snapshot

The H visa category allows employers to sponsor specialty workers for temporary assignments in the United States. Here’s a brief overview of the H-1B, H-1B1 and H-3 visas to help you decide which visa type meets your recruiting needs. For a comprehensive overview of a specific visa category, click the corresponding tab above.

H-1B Visa H-1B1 Visa H-3 Visa

Who's Eligible

High-skilled specialty workers High-skilled specialty workers from Chile and Singapore Trainees or special education exchange visitors

Length of Work Authorization

Initial: Up to 3 years
Total: 6 years
Initial: Up to 18 months
Total: Varies
Initial: 18 to 24 months
Total: Up to 24 months

Visa Extension Options

Extensions of up to 3 years granted Unlimited extensions granted No extensions granted

Green Card Sponsorship

This is a dual intent visa, meaning you can easily sponsor the visa holder for a green card Not a dual intent visa, meaning the visa holder may face travel restrictions if sponsored for a green card Not a dual intent visa, meaning the visa holder may face travel restrictions if sponsored for a green card

Dependent Visa Availability

H-4 dependent visa available for spouse and unmarried children younger than 21 years old H-4 dependent visa available for spouse and unmarried children younger than 21 years old H-4 dependent visa available for spouse and unmarried children younger than 21 years old

H-1B Visa Benefits

Great for recruiting high-skilled expats for specialty positions, especially hard-to-fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles.
Visa priority given to expats with a master’s degree and above.
Easily sponsor an H-1B visa holder for a green card and retain top talent long-term.

Key H-1B Application Status Info and Dates

Due to extreme popularity, the H-1B visa has a 65,000 annual cap on new petitions.
The H-1B application submission period begins April 1.
The earliest the sponsored employee can begin work is October 1.

A H-1B visa is designated for individuals working in a specialty occupation that requires a specific skill set and background of specialized knowledge. While there is no set “specialty occupation” list, occupations commonly fall into health care, biotechnology, human resources, education, engineering, computer sciences, management, medicine, etc.

• The initial stay is up to three years.
• The total stay is six years.

To qualify, the individual must have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree in a field of study related to the position.

Additionally, here are more H-1B visa requirements:
• Industry standard education requirements for the position must include a bachelor’s degree.
• If the degree was obtained overseas or is not a four-year bachelor’s degree, an education evaluation must be completed.
• The salary for the position must meet minimum prevailing wage requirements.
• If the position requires the employee to work off-site, additional proof of employment may be needed.

First-time H-1B visa petitions are entered into the H-1B lottery, which begins April 1. This is referred to as H-1B cap season. Petitions will be randomly selected from the pool, and the number of visas processed are capped each year: 65,000 for individuals with a bachelor’s degree and an additional 20,000 for people with a master’s degree or above.

If the H-1B visa petition is accepted for processing and approved, your new employee can begin working October 1.

Note: H-1B visa petitioners employed at an institution of higher education or at certain nonprofit organizations are exempt from the cap.

Application filing fee: $460 to $2,460 (excludes additional fees imparted on companies that rely heavily on H-1B sponsorship).

Premium processing: Employers can pay the $1,225 premium processing fee, and USCIS will guarantee the H-1B application is processed within 15 calendar days.

Extensions of up to three years granted.

Employees may be accompanied by their spouses and unmarried children younger than 21 years of age with an H-4 nonimmigrant dependent classification. Some spouses can receive work authorization once the H-1B holder has reached a certain point in the green card application process. Dependents are allowed to study while in H-4 status.

H-1B visas are dual intent, meaning expats may easily be sponsored for permanent residency. H-1B holders should begin the green card application process no later than two years prior to their six-year max-out date to avoid losing work authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

In order to sponsor an expat for an H-1B visa, the open position must meet the following visa requirements:

1. Require theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge in architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology or the arts.

2. Require a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its foreign equivalent) in the specific specialty, and one of the following must be true:
• A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (at minimum) is typically required for the position.
• The degree requirement is common to the industry, or the position is so complex or unique that the work only can be performed by an individual with a degree.

A foreign national who qualifies for the H-1B visa must meet one of the following requirements:
• Completed a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the area of study specified by the job posting.
• Holds a foreign degree that is equivalent to the U.S. bachelor’s degree specified in the job posted.
• Holds an official license or certification that authorizes him or her to perform the specific job.
• Has education, training or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of an equivalent degree.

H-1B visa holders are usually admitted to the United States for three years. Their time period may be extended but generally can’t go beyond a total of six years, with a few exceptions.

The H-1B cap is the annual limit the U.S. government puts on the number of foreign nationals able to enter the country to work through the H-1B visa. The cap is currently at 65,000 H-1B visas per year, plus an additional 20,000 visas set aside for individuals who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university.

In order to qualify for an exemption from the H-1B cap, the sponsored position must be one of the following:
• At an institution of higher education.
• At a nonprofit research organization.
• At a government research organization.
• At a primary or secondary education institution.
• At a non-profit entity that engages in an established curriculum-related clinical training.

Other H-1B visa fillings that aren’t subject to the cap include: petitions for a second extension with the same employer, amendment petitions with no request for extension and corrections of service errors.

H-1B1 Visa Benefits

The H-1B1 visa has unlimited extensions.
6,800 petitions of the H-1B cap are set aside for specialty workers from Chile and Singapore.
Applicants may skip USCIS approval and apply for the visa stamp directly at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.

Key Takeaways

The H-1B1 visa is typically approved for 12 months at a time with extensions available through USCIS or at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
To avoid difficulties during international travel, H-1B1 visa holders should switch to an H-1B visa before they apply for a green card.

Citizens of Chile and Singapore are eligible for this Free Trade Agreement professional work visa. The job must involve specialty work that requires at least a bachelor’s degree, plus four years of study in the field.

• The initial stay is up to 18 months.
• The total stay varies.

Qualifying candidates must be filling a “specialty occupation” role, meaning it requires a specific skill set and background of specialized knowledge.

While there is no set “specialty occupation” list, they often fall into a few categories. Examples include: engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, computer sciences, medicine, health care, education, biotechnology, management, human resources, etc.

Candidates must also hold a bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent) in a major related to the U.S.-based position they are pursuing, or possess equivalent work experience.

Note: The application process isn’t petition-based. The employee may apply directly at the U.S. embassy or consulate in Singapore or Chile. No filing is necessary in the United States.

Consulate application filing fee: $190.

USCIS application filing fee: $460, if applying through USCIS to extend the foreign national’s current stay in H-1B1 status or to change employers without leaving the United States.

Premium processing: This expedited application processing feature is not available for H-1B1 visas.

Unlimited extensions permitted 18 months at a time.

Employees may be accompanied by their spouses and unmarried children younger than 21 years with an H-4 nonimmigrant dependent classification. Dependents are allowed to study while in H-4 status but are not eligible for work authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

The H-1B1 visa is made possible by the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore and Chile. It encourages commerce between the countries by granting special work authorization to citizens of Chile and Singapore.

You can’t sponsor an independent contractor with an H-1B1 visa.

The H-1B1 visa has a cap of 6,800 petitions each year — 1,400 Chilean citizens and 5,400 Singaporean citizens.

H-3 Visa Benefits

Helps diversify your training program.
Great for contributing to knowledge abroad since it helps the visa holder gain valuable training and on-the-job experience.
The visa holder may transfer to another dual intent visa, if you’re interested in sponsoring him or her for permanent residency.

Key Takeaways

There are no extensions for this visa type.
The type of training can’t be offered in the person’s home country.
The training must benefit the person’s career in their native country or elsewhere abroad.

The H-3 visa allows you to sponsor individuals coming to the United States for training. Additionally, under this classification you may sponsor a special education exchange visitor who is coming to the United States to train specifically in special education.

• For trainees, the training can be in any field that’s not offered in the person’s home country, except graduate medical education or training.
• For special education exchange visitors, the training will allow him or her to develop practical experience educating children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

Total stay: Up to two years for a trainee and up to 18 months for a special education exchange visitor.

To qualify for the H-3 visa classification, the U.S. employer must prove:
• The training isn’t available in the person’s native country.
• The training will benefit the expat’s career, which he or she will pursue outside the United States.
• The expat won’t work in a position that is part of the normal operation of your company or one that can be easily filled by U.S. citizens.
• The individual’s work isn’t considered productive employment, unless the work is required by the training.

In order to prove that your open position and the trainee qualifies for the H-3 visa, a statement must be included with the petition that feature the points below:
• A description of the training and the type of supervision provided to the individual.
• The time commitment split between in-classroom instruction and on-the-job training.
• A description of the career that the person will be pursuing after the training is complete.
• An explanation of why the training isn’t available in the person’s home country.

For the special education exchange visitor:
There is a cap (50) on the number of special exchange visitor visas granted each year.

The visa petition must be filed by an organization that has professionally trained staffed and a standardized program for providing education and hands-on experience to children with disabilities.

For example: The petition should include a description of the training received, the facility’s staff and the visitor participating in the program. Additionally, the petition must prove the special exchange visitor is nearing completion of a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in education or already has a degree in the field. The person must already have extensive prior training of teaching children with disabilities.

Government form filing fee: $460

Extensions aren’t permitted for the H-3 visa.

Trainees' spouses and unmarried children who are under the age of 21 may accompany them to the United States as H-4 nonimmigrants. However, H-4 nonimmigrants are not permitted to work in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Medical professionals (like physicians) don’t qualify for the visa. The visa holder’s dependents aren’t permitted to work in the United States. Additionally, extensions aren’t allowed.

There aren’t any. The H-3 visa holder may travel before the visa is set to expire. Additionally, there is no limit on the amount of time the spent abroad. However, due to the short timeframe of the visa, it’s important to monitor the individual’s time abroad to ensure he or she has enough time to train.

Yes, you may apply for change of status while on an H-3 visa. If you would like to extend the individual’s work authorization, transfer him or her to an H-1B visa or another visa that meets the position’s criteria.


L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transfers


At a glance
L-1A
L-1B

L Visa Snapshot: Process, Green Card Sponsorship and More

Here’s what you need to know about the L-1A and L-1B visas to decide which visa type could meet your recruiting needs. For a comprehensive overview of each specific visa type, click the corresponding tab above.

L-1A visa L-1B visa

Who's Eligible

Executives or managers who’ve worked abroad at a foreign affiliate of your U.S.-based company Individuals with specialized knowledge relating to the organization from one of its affiliated foreign offices of your U.S. branch

Length of Work Authorization

Initial: 3 years
Total: 7 years
Initial: 3 years
Total: 5 years

Visa Extension Options

Two extensions granted in 2-year increments One extension permitted for up to 2 years

Green Card Sponsorship

This is a dual intent visa, meaning you can easily sponsor the visa holder for a green card This is a dual intent visa, meaning you can easily sponsor the visa holder for a green card

Dependent Visa Availability

L-2 dependent visa available for spouse and children younger than 21 years of age L-2 dependent visa available for spouse and children younger than 21 years of age

L-1A Visa Benefits

Great tool for transferring individuals in leadership roles to important posts throughout your international organization.
Allows individuals to open a U.S.-based office, if eligibility criteria is met.

L-1A Visa Process

The L-1A visa is dual intent, so holders may be sponsored for permanent residency without travel and employment authorization issues.
Securing Blanket L Certification eases the application process for companies that file many petitions throughout the year.

Individuals who’ve worked abroad at a foreign affiliate of the sponsoring U.S. company in an executive or managerial capacity.

The initial stay is three years.
The total stay is seven years.

Executive capacity refers to the employee’s ability to make major decisions without much oversight.

Managerial capacity refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and direct the work of employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or another component of the organization.

• Candidates must have worked at a related entity abroad for at least 12 continuous months out of the last three years when applying.
• The work or service must be in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer.
• There must be a qualifying relationship with a foreign company such as a parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate.

Application filing fee: $960

Premium processing: Employers can pay the $1,225 premium processing fee and USCIS will guarantee the L-1A visa application is processed within 15 calendar days.

If the executive’s or manager’s reason for travel is to open a new office in the United States, the following conditions must be met:
• The employer has secured the physical office location
• The executive or manager has been employed in that position for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition
• The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approved petition

Two extensions granted in two-year increments.

Some companies choose to establish an intracompany relationship in place of filing individual L-1 visa petitions. The benefit of Blanket L Certification is that the employee can apply for the L-1 visa directly at the U.S. Consulate. Nothing needs to be filed in the United States, which saves time and cost.

Blanket L Certification may be established if:

1. All parties involved are engaged in commercial trade or services.

2. The petitioner has a U.S. office that’s been operational for one year.

3. There are three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries and affiliates.

4. All parties have met one of the following:
• Obtained at least 10 L-1 visa approvals during the previous 12-month period.
• Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million.
• Have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

Employees may be accompanied by their spouses and unmarried children 21 years and under with an L-2 nonimmigrant dependent classification. Dependents are allowed to study. Spouses in L-2 status may apply for work authorization once they are in the United States.

L-1A visas are dual intent, meaning expats may easily be sponsored for permanent residency. L-1A visa holders should begin the green card application process no later than two years prior to their seven-year max-out date to avoid losing work authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

An L-1A visa beneficiary must be employed at a company abroad in an executive or managerial level for at least one of the last three years before the L-1A visa is filed. Generally, L-1A holders are admitted to the United States for a three-year period, though in some cases it is only one year.

An L-1B visa beneficiary must have “specialized knowledge” of the technology, processes or procedures of a U.S. company. They must be petitioned by the U.S. company and must be currently employed at one of the U.S. company’s affiliates or international branches. L-1B visa holders are permitted to stay in the United States for three years, with the chance to renew their L-1B for another two years after that.

An L-1 Blanket certificate is issued to select companies of a certain size and who meet a minimum threshold of employees among other requirements.

The “Blanket” petition process is used for U.S. companies who have already received a Blanket L visa approval from USCIS. In a blanket petition, the L-1 beneficiary applies for the visa directly at a U.S. consulate abroad as opposed to filing the petition initially with the USCIS.

L-1B Visa Benefits

Helps create a culture of workforce mobility within your organization.
Allows select personnel to lend their skills to others throughout your company.
Great tool for encouraging talent retention.

L-1B Visa Process

There are historically high rates of requests for evidence, so finding the right immigration partner is paramount to creating a robust petition.
The L-1B visa is dual intent, so holders may be sponsored for permanent residency without travel and employment authorization issues.
Securing Blanket L Certification eases the application process for companies that file many petitions throughout the year.

The L-1B visa classification allows a U.S. employer to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization from one of its affiliated foreign offices to a U.S. branch.

• The initial stay is three years.
• The total stay is five years.

To qualify, the employee must:
• Have worked in the qualifying organization for at least 12 months within the last three years leading up to transfer.
• Be working in the field of specialized knowledge for a branch of the same employer.

Application filing fee: $960

Premium processing: Employers can pay the $1,225 premium processing fee and USCIS will guarantee the L-1B application is processed within 15 calendar days

One extension permitted or up to two years.

Some companies choose to establish an intracompany relationship in place of filing individual L-1 petitions. The benefit of Blanket L Certification is that the employee can apply for the L-1 visa directly at the U.S. Consulate. Nothing needs to be filed in the United States, which saves time and cost.

Blanket L certification may be established if:

1. All parties involved are engaged in commercial trade or services.

2. The petitioner has a U.S. office that’s been operational for one year.

3. There are three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries and affiliates.

4. All parties have met one of the following:
• Obtained at least 10 L-1 visa approvals during the previous 12-month period.
• Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million.
• Have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

Employees may be accompanied by their spouses and unmarried children 21 years and under with an L-2 nonimmigrant dependent visa classification. Dependents are allowed to study. Spouses in L-2 status may apply for work authorization once they are in the United States.

L-1B visas are dual intent, meaning expats may easily be sponsored for permanent residency. L-1B visa holders should begin the green card application process no later than two years prior to their five-year max-out date to avoid losing work authorization.

Frequently Asked Questions

An L-1A visa beneficiary must be employed at a company abroad in an executive or managerial level for at least one of the last three years before the L-1A visa is filed. Generally, L-1A holders are admitted to the United States for a three-year period, though in some cases it is only one year.

An L-1B visa beneficiary must have “specialized knowledge” of the technology, processes or procedures of a U.S. company. They must be petitioned by the U.S. company and must be currently employed at one of the U.S. company’s affiliates or international branches. L-1B visa holders are permitted to stay in the United States for three years, with the chance to renew their L-1B for another two years after that.

Specialized knowledge means that an individual possesses an advanced level of knowledge or skill relating to the company’s product, services, research, equipment, techniques or management. The knowledge must be company-specific (e.g., not commercially available), and the employee must be one of few employees with the same level of advanced knowledge. It is reserved for truly unique employees within the organization.


TN Visa for NAFTA Professionals


What is the TN visa?

The TN visa is a special classificiation for citizens of Canada and Mexico as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canadian citizens can apply for a TN visa directly at the border/port of entry. VisaMadeEz can prepare the TN application for the individual to present to the Customs and Border Protection officer. Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. VisaMadeEz can prepare the TN application for the individual to present to the Consulate.

Who is eligible for TN visa sponsorship?

To be eligible for the TN visa you must be a citizen from Mexico or Canada and skilled in one of the following professions:

  • Accountant
  • Engineer
  • Scientist
  • Medical/Healthcare Professional
  • Architect
  • Lawyer
  • Teacher
  • Economist
  • Social Worker
  • Mathmatician
  • Psychologist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • And More

How long does a TN visa last?

The initial period of stay for a TN visa holder in the U.S. is three years. After that, the visa holder can apply for renewals, which are granted in three-year increments. TN visa holders can apply for extensions indefinitely.

Is the TN visa a dual-intent visa?

TN visas are not dual intent, meaning holders may face international travel complications if they file a green card petition under this status. It’s recommended they switch to a dual intent visa, such as an H-1B Person in Specialty Occupation visa or an L-1 Intracompany Transfer visa, before applying for legal permanent residency.

How much does a TN visa cost?

The consular application filing fee that goes along with a TN petition is $160.

There is also a USCIS filing fee of $460 which is only necessary if the foreign national is inside the U.S. and switches to a TN visa from another visa status. TN visas only need USCIS approval in this rare situation.

TD visa for dependents of TN holders

Employees may be accompanied by their spouses and unmarried children 21 years and under with a TD nonimmigrant dependent visa classification. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Canada or Mexico to be eligible for TD status. Dependents are not authorized to work, but they are allowed to study.


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