L1 Visa Processing Time (Applying, Extending, Green Cards)
For multinational companies looking to transfer senior or specialist employees to branches or offices in the US on a temporary basis, the L-1 visa could be the right immigration option.
US immigration rules, petitioning and adjudication however can be rigid, inflexible and protracted –which does not always align well to the employee’s intended timeframes nor does it support business’s commercial needs to have the right people in the right place at the right time.
To be eligible, you would need to have been working for a non-US company, either as an executive or manager or if you have ‘specialized knowledge’, for at least 12 months out of the 3 years preceding your application.
Understanding the L1 visa process including the L1 visa processing time can help with planning for overseas deployments.
How long does it take to get an L1 visa?
First, form I-129 will need to be filed by your employer. Processing by USCIS can take up to 6 months. If approved and you are outside the US, the next stage is to attend a visa interview at the US consular post in the country where you filed the petition.
This also means there is generally no difference in the processing times between the L1A and L1B classifications.
When considering the L1 visa processing time, it is worth emphasizing that visa adjudication has been taking longer in recent months as This is all part of the wider movement in US immigration policy toward increasingly protectionist agenda, resulting in more stringent visa processing and greater scrutiny of non-US workers.
It is the caseload of the consular post that will largely determine the processing time, as well as the quality of your submission and supporting documents.
Reducing L1 visa processing time: Premium processing
Fortunately, the USCIS provides a special service called
Premium processing is available for L1 visa petitions. Instead of the standard 6 months, the premium service can deliver processing of I-129 petitions to 15 calendar days. The rate for L1 visa processing (as at November 2018) is $1,225.
In the event USCIS are unable to meet the 15 calendar day deadline, your employer will be refunded the premium processing fee.
Delayed L1 visa processing time: RFEs
Errors or omissions in your application can result in delays, or worse, an outright refusal.
Adjudicators have substantial discretion in respect of the applications before them and they are no longer required to issue a Request for Further Evidence (RFE), before denying an application in the event an application is lacking in evidence or information.
This makes it important to ensure your application is accurate, complete and thorough.
There is no single or exhaustive list of supporting documents you will be expected to provide. However, this would usually include as a minimum:
- A detailed description of your role, responsibilities and purview to demonstrate that it satisfies the L1 threshold.
- Details of your organisational structure and growth projections.
- Evidence that your employee can remunerate you accordingly.
Taking advice from an immigration specialist can help ensure you are representing your case most effectively.
L1 visa extensions processing time
The L1 visa is temporary. It will initially be granted for a maximum of 3 years. To remain it the US beyond this point would require a further petition to be made, where the same processing time will apply as with the initial application. Alternatively, you may opt for premium processing for faster adjudication.
Note that the visa extension period will differ depending on your visa classification:
- L1A visa – maximum of 7 years in total.
- L1B visa – maximum of 5 years in total.
L1 visa to US permanent residence
The L-1 visa does permit holders to apply for a US Green Card, provided they satisfy the eligibility criteria.
If eligible, your employer would need to file an I-140 petition with the USCIS.
It is then a matter of waiting for your ‘priority date’ is current with the Department of State’s final action dates. These dates are made available in the DoS monthly visa bulletin.
Once your I-140 petition is approved, your priority date will be current and you will be able to submit an I-485 form to have your status adjusted from nonimmigrant L1 status to your new lawful permanent residency under a green card.
It is important to note that you can use the premium processing service for all I-140 petitions as well, shortening the usual six-month L1 to green card processing time to 15 calendar days. However, the I-485 processing time is generally between six to eight months and this form cannot be expedited by premium processing.
Green Card application processing will vary between L-1As and L-1Bs.
The L-1A for managers and executives qualifies under the EB-1C ‘first preference’ green card route, which has current priority dates across the board.
L-1Bs however will come under second or third preference levels – typically involving longer wait times.
Do you have a question about the L1 visa processing times? NNU can help!
The L1 visa can be one of the more complex visa petitions and is certainly one of the more heavily scrutinized. Current adjudication is looking for specific and unequivocal evidence and reasoning as to why a US resident worker could not undertake the work in question and why you are singularly placed to carry out the required work.
In addition to providing a sufficiently compelling case, you will also need to ensure the fundamentals are addressed, since errors or omissions can result in delayed processing or even refusal.
NNU Immigration’s US attorneys have substantial experience in supporting companies, employees and business owners with US visa applications, including the L-1 visa for intracompany transfers.
We will work with you to ensure eligibility criteria are satisfied, and to advise on you best to build and present your application to overcome adjudication concerns. If you have a question about the L-1 visa, contact us ontact us for guidance on your specific circumstances.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.