Transitioning from L-1 Visa to Green Card


The L-1 visa allows dual intent. If you are considering transitioning from your L-1A or L-1B visa to an immigrant visa category, you have come to the right place.

This guide breaks down the recommended employment-based immigrant visa options for L-1 visa holders. It discusses each option, the process, recommended evidence, and a breakdown of fees associated with the transition.

L-1 Visa Overview

Before diving into the different avenues you can take to transition from an L-1 visa to a green card, it is important first to understand the L-1 visa:

The L-1 is a non-immigrant visa permitting a multinational company or employer to petition or sponsor an employee from its overseas branch to a related entity in the United States to either work for its existing U.S. office or establish a new one. Thus, the transferred employee can temporarily work and live in the U.S. for the duration of their L-1 visa. The employee being transferred must have been employed by the petitioning company for at least one year before their transfer to the United States.

There are two categories under the L-1 visa:

  1. L-1A

The L-1A category is for an intracompany executive or managerial employee. Executive roles are high-level positions within the company with the power to develop and implement regulations and policies and make important decisions. Managerial roles are generally involved in the supervision and control of the work of other employees under them, thus giving them the authority to recruit, terminate, and manage personnel.

  1. L-1B

The L-1B category is for an intracompany employee with a position requiring specialized knowledge. This specialized knowledge is often expertise involving the company’s processes, management, techniques, and products or services that are not easily transferable. The level of expertise often goes beyond the general skills or knowledge commonly found in the company’s sector, making the employee with specialized knowledge indispensable. In this case, it is more beneficial for the company to transfer this employee to the U.S. rather than hire a U.S. worker.

For a more in-depth L-1 visa guide, refer to our L-1 visa article.

Dual Intent

One of the benefits of the L-1 visa is that you are allowed to have dual intent. If your employer or some other employer offers to sponsor you for a green card, the law permits you to pursue it; therefore, transitioning to an immigrant visa while on the non-immigrant L-1 visa will not raise questions about your truthfulness in previously claiming only temporarily to remain in the U.S. via L-1. This enables you to smoothly transition to permanent residency without raising red flags.

Transitioning from L-1A to EB-1C

The EB-1C visa is the third category in the first preference employment-based visa. It is an immigrant visa designed for certain multinational managers or executives. Your U.S. employer will file this petition for you as you will be their beneficiary.

The main advantage of this visa is it does not require the stringent PERM labor certification process, thus resulting in a more fast-tracked application than other visa categories requiring it.

The EB-1C visa is the most suitable avenue for executive or manager L-1A visa holders as the EB-1C mirrors many of the L-1A requirements:

  • You must have been employed for at least one year outside the U.S. in the three years before your application or current non-immigrant admission

  • There must be a qualifying relationship between your sponsoring U.S. employer and the overseas entity you previously worked for

  • Your U.S. employer must have been doing business for at least one year before your application

  • Your U.S. employer must employ you in a managerial or executive capacity

Here is how you can transition from the L-1A visa to the EB-1C visa:

  • File Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker)

Your U.S. employer will file this petition on your behalf. This petition must showcase your managerial or executive role, contributions to the company that make you indispensable, and eligibility for the EB-1C visa.

Gather evidence proving your executive or managerial role in the multinational company to demonstrate your responsibilities, key duties, and the impact of your role in the company’s operations. You can use your job offer, certificate of employment or other employment verification documents, organizational charts, a detailed description of your role and duties, resume, copies of your academic records, your employer’s financial documents proving they can support you, and documents evidencing your role’s impact to the company’s success.

  • Priority date

Once your I-140 petition is approved, you must wait for your priority date to become current. Fortunately, EB-1C priority dates tend to be current, meaning fewer waiting periods.

  • File Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) or DS-260 (Consular Processing)

If you are in the U.S., you must apply for an adjustment of status. If you are outside the U.S., you must go through consular processing. You must supplement this petition with evidence proving your qualifications and the validity of your role.

  • Attend your interview and biometrics appointment

Next, if necessary, you will receive a notice to attend a one-on-one interview at a USCIS facility near you. Be prepared to answer questions about your role in the company, qualifications, skills, and plans in the U.S. You will also receive a biometrics appointment notice to provide your fingerprints, photo, and signature for a thorough criminal background check.

  • Wait for green card approval

Your application will undergo review by the USCIS. Once approved, you will receive your green card.

Transitioning from L-1B to EB-2

The EB-2 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa designed for individuals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their field. The EB-2 visa requires a U.S. job offer and, thus, a labor certification. To transition to this visa, you must have a job that requires either your advanced degree or exceptional ability.

Read our comprehensive EB-2 visa guide for more information.

To qualify for an EB-2 visa, you must demonstrate at least three of the following:

  • Official academic qualifications (your certificates, degrees, diplomas, or similar institutional awards related to your exceptional ability)

  • Evidence of a minimum of 10 years of full-time experience in your specialty

  • A license or certification to practice your occupation

  • Proof that you have commanded a large salary or compensation, proving your exceptional ability

  • Membership in at least one professional association

  • Evidence of recognition for your significant contributions or achievements in your field by your peers, government entities, businesses, industry leaders, or other professional bodies in your field

  • Other comparable eligibility evidence

National Interest Waiver

Note that you can waive the labor certification requirement and, by extension, the U.S. job offer via a National Interest Waiver (NIW), allowing you to self-petition.

To qualify, you must meet the three NIW requirements:

  1. Your proposed endeavor in the U.S. has substantial merit and national importance

  2. You are well-positioned to advance this endeavor

  3. It would benefit the U.S. to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements for you

For a more comprehensive guide on meeting those requirements, read our NIW article.

Here is how you can transition from the L-1B visa to the EB-2 visa:

  1. Obtain a labor certification

Your U.S. employer will do this process for you. It demonstrates that no qualified U.S. workers are available to fill your specialized position within the company. This process involves proving that your employer adequately advertised the job position. This step is not necessary if you are self-petitioning via NIW.

  1. File Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker)

Your employer will file this for you. The process is similar to the transition from L-1A to EB-1C. The main difference is the focus of your documentation. As this is L1-B to EB-2, you will focus on proving you are qualified for the EB-2 visa as someone with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in your field.

You can supplement your petition with evidence like copies of your academic records, resume, detailed descriptions of your role and duties highlighting your exceptional ability or technical skills, evidence of your contributions in advancing your field, evidence of expertise (e.g., patents, research, presentations, etc.), letters of recommendations from recognized institutions or industry leaders, recognition or awards, employment history, expert opinions, published materials about your work, and other qualifying evidence demonstrating your qualifications.

  1. Priority date

  2. File Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) or DS-260 (Consular Processing)

  3. Attend the interview and biometrics appointments

  4. Await green card approval

Steps 3 through 6 are as discussed previously.

Transitioning from L-1B to EB-3

The EB-3 visa is an immigrant visa for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. L-1B visa holders can qualify for this visa category due to the highly specialized nature of their positions.

To qualify as a skilled worker, you must demonstrate that you possess at least two years of experience, post-secondary education, or training that meets the job requirements specified in the labor certification. The job must not be of a seasonal or temporary nature.

To qualify as a professional, you must possess a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent and a full-time job offer. Note that a foreign bachelor’s degree may not necessarily be equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. For instance, a four-year bachelor’s degree may not be equivalent to a three-year foreign bachelor’s degree. Ensure you are qualified by obtaining a credentials evaluation. You must also prove that your bachelor’s degree is required for the job.

To qualify as an other or unskilled worker, you must demonstrate that you can perform unskilled labor requiring less than two years of experience. Your job offer must also not be of a seasonal or temporary nature.

Here is how you can transition from the L-1B visa to the EB-3 visa:

  • Obtain a labor certification

As previously discussed. However, note that an NIW does not apply for this visa category.

  • File Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker)

Your employer will file this petition on your behalf. The petition must emphasize your eligibility as a skilled, professional, or unskilled worker.

If you are a skilled worker, you can use evidence such as letters of recommendation attesting to your skills and experiences, evidence of relevant work experience with detailed job descriptions, copies of certifications, training, or licenses relevant to your field, and evidence of your skills or training that sets you apart from others in your industry.

If you are a professional, you can demonstrate your eligibility through copies of your degrees and academic records, credential evaluations, letters of recommendation from colleagues, professors, or employers attesting to your education and qualifications, and any licenses, certifications, or credentials related to your profession.

If you are an unskilled worker, you can prove your eligibility through documents evidencing your relevant skills and work experiences, letters of recommendation from peers and employers highlighting your work ethics, reliability, skills, and expertise, and any training or credentials demonstrating your readiness for the job.

  1. Priority date

  2. File Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) or DS-260 (Consular Processing)

  3. Attend the interview and biometrics appointments

  4. Await green card approval

All steps are as previously discussed. It only differs in the focus of the petition.

Cost Breakdown

Here are the fees associated with your transition from L-1 to EB immigrant visas:

  • Labor certification: free

  • Form I-140: $700

  • Form I-485: $1,140

  • Biometrics fee: $85

  • DS-260 (if applicable): $220

  • Premium processing (optional**)**: $2,500

Ready to transition from L-1 to a green card?

We highly recommend going through this process with a team of L-1 and employment-based visa experts for a smooth application experience.

Our team of experienced immigration attorneys and professional business plan writers are here to guide you every step of the way and offer you tailored solutions. Send us a message for a free consultation!

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