L1 Visa and H1B Visa Comparison

L1 Visa and H1B Visa Comparison

Many employers in the United States routinely need temporary workers that are highly skilled. Therefore, there are various temporary work visas, such as H1B and L1 (L1A and L1B), that allow the employers to hire foreign workers. While there are many some similarities between H1B and L1 visa categories, there are many differences between them.


  • Both are temporary work visas. 

  • Both allow dual intent. That is, the temporary worker does not have to show the ties to the home country, filing for a green card will not jeopardize the visa status, and that itself will not cause any problems in getting future status extensions or visa stampings.

  • Petitions for both of them allow premium processing, though the premium processing for a H1B visa is stopped temporarily sometimes.


FeatureL1 VisaH1B Visa
EmployerL1 visa petition can be filed only by the parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch of the foreign company where the alien has worked for at least 1 year in the preceding 3 years in the capacity of manager, executive, or special knowledge work. All employers don’t have such a choice, as not all companies have a foreign presence or are multinational.Any U.S. based employer can hire the foreign worker, provided all other conditions are met.
Quota/CapNoneFor initial H1B petition, 65,000 with 6,800 reserved for Chile and Singapore for certain programs. 

Additional 20,000 for new graduates with a master’s degree from the U.S.

If the cap for a given financial year has been reached, the petition can only be filed on the next April 1 or after that until the cap is filled again, and the employment can start only from the next October 1 or after that.
Prevailing WageNo requirements. That is because the L1 visa holder is really on behalf of a foreign qualifying entity. 

However, significantly lower wages may cause problems.
Must be paid at least the prevailing wages.
PayrollCan be on the payroll of U.S. company or foreign company and be paid only the allowance in the U.S.Must be on the payroll of U.S. company.
SpouseL2 visa holders can get EAD and work.H4 visa holders can not get EAD and therefore, can not work. H4 Visa EAD is available in some very limited circumstances.
Dept. of Labor ApprovalNot required. 

In theory, L1 worker can not be substituted by a U.S. worker.
Approval of Labor Condition Application required. Need attestation from the employer that qualified U.S. workers are unavailable.
Blanket PetitionAvailableNot available. Individual petition must be filed for each proposed H1B worker.
Minimum Education RequirementNo degree is required. Even if the worker has a degree, it does not have to be in any specific specialized field.Worker must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and the job must be in a specialty occupation that requires such education.
Maximum DurationL1A – 7 years
L1B – 5 years

No further extensions. 

If the person has spent time previously on H visa, that duration is counted towards the maximum allowed duration.
H1B – 6 years

If the person has spent time previously on L visa, that duration is counted towards the maximum allowed duration. 

However, in certain situations, it is possible to extend H1B visa beyond 6 years.
Green CardL1A visa holder can file green card in EB1C category, can avoid filing the PERM labor certification, and can usually get green card within less than one year.

Employers of most L1B visa holders would need PERM labor certification approval to get them a green card.
Employers of most H1B visa holders would need PERM labor certification approval to get them a green card.

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