The Complete Guide to L1 Visa Renewal

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • An L1 visa is a nonimmigrant work visa allowing international companies to transfer employees to a US-based company, affiliate, or branch.
  • L1 visa holders can work and live in the US for up to five or seven years, depending on the category.
  • L1 visa renewal requires filing Form I-129 before the visa expiration date and providing supporting documents.
  • There are regular and blanket visa extensions, each with different requirements.

Life as an immigrant can be tricky. For one thing, probably you aren’t that well versed into the individualities of the law system in the US. Usually, each country has a range of specifics and these rarely overlap with that of other countries. With that in mind, if you have questions regarding the requirements for an L1 visa renewal, you’ve come to the right place. We would like to shed some light on the topic so that you know how to proceed from this point onward.

What Is an L1 Visa?

Before delving in the topic of L1 visa renewal, we should clarify the characteristics of this type of visa. So, an L1 Visa accounts for a nonimmigrant work visa.

This type of visa enables international companies to relocate workers from outside the US to a company, affiliate or branch, located in the US. Aside from this, through this visa, employees may establish new branches for their employees.

In the position of an L1 employee, you are granted permission to stay and work in the US. The maximum timeframe is of five years, or of seven years, with the extensions. But this will also depend on your L1 visa category.

Obviously, there are several benefits linked with having an L1 visa. For one thing, you can work and live in the US, not to mention that you can also get work authorization for your spouse.

In addition to that, as the title of this article clearly points, you have the possibility to extend your stay.

L1A and L1B visa holders alike can choose to apply for an L1 visa renewal or an extension. However, it’s worth noting that the application for the extension should be provided before the official expiration date of the visa. This is usually noted on Form I-64.

How Can an L1 Visa Be Renewed?

An L-1 visa renewal can be provided in two-year increments, depending on the maximum duration for each category. For example, in the case of managers and executives, the maximum duration of your stay is of seven years.

In the case of workers with specialized knowledge, the maximum duration of stay is of five years. Note that these effectively refer to the time spent in the US. Therefore, any timeframe you have spent outside the US can be recaptured if you want to get an extension.

If you want to renew or to extend your L1 visa status, then it is mandatory to file an official form – namely Form i-129. But you should do that before the expiration date of your visa – that’s very important.

Concurrently, you should assemble a bunch of key documents and bring them to a US consulate or a US embassy. We will list the documents you should have in a forthcoming paragraph.

L1 Visa Renewal Process

When it comes to the visa renewal process, the extension period will vary on your visa classification. In the case of the L1A visa, you can remain in the US for a maximum of 7 years – in total.

On the other hand, in regards to the L1B visa, you can remain in the US for a maximum of 5 years. Only your employer can apply for changing your status, namely for renewing your visa.

The petition is to be submitted at least 60 days before your existing I-94 expires.

If something unexpected happens under the L-1 status, such as losing your current position, you might wonder whether this will affect your status, or any visa application process for a change.

In this scenario, it is mandatory to seek another job. Note that the employer should be willing to sponsor you for a different work visa – such as the H-1B.

Documents Required for L1 Visa Renewal

Here’s a list of the documents you will need in to renew your L1 visa.

  • Form I-129, which should be completed by your employer.
  • Form I-94
  • Proof indicating the employment situation of the beneficiary in the US.
  • L1 visa
  • USCIS filing fee
  • Evidence pointing out the degree of the beneficiary or its foreign equivalent that is relevant for his/her work in the US.
  • A letter from the petitioner entailing the beneficiary’s dates of employment, salary, and responsibilities in the last three years of employment.
  • An extension support letter, which should be signed by your employer. The letter should explain your individual conditions of employment and the reasons why you want to remain in the US.
  • Confirmation form W-2, indicating that you work for an L1 employer.
  • Recapturing Time Outside the US – this means that you have to provide an itinerary of the time you spent in the US. This should also include the number of days you have spent overseas. Examples of what you have to submit include plane tickets, boarding passes, passport stamps, as well as other records indicating your departure. Effectively, the time you spent outside of the US won’t be accounted for in the five to seven years you can stay in the US.

Regular vs. Blanket Visa Extensions

It’s worth pointing out that there are two major categories of L1 visa extensions – namely regular and blanket visa extensions. There are some differences worth noting.

In the case of the regular visa extension, it implies an application and approval for every beneficiary. In the case of the blanket visa extension, this is designated for employees that hire a significant number of intra-company transfer employees. Therefore, through the blanket visa extension, one can file the petition for more workers.

L1B Blanket Extensions

Let’s get into more detail regarding the L1B blanket extension. In order to pursue this procedure, an L-1 blanket petition is required. Large companies utilize this petition in order to pre-qualify potential employees for being transferred.

There are several benefits to using this petition. For one thing, after it has been approved, the company can proceed with transferring the employees rather quickly. This eliminates the need for submitting separate petitions, which can be time-consuming.

Another advantage associated with L1B blanket extensions is the fact that they can be added on indefinitely.

Nevertheless, in order to qualify for it, the US firm you’re working for must have 1,000 employees, at the very least. Also, the company must have attained L-1 visas for no less than 10 employees. Aside from this, the combined sales of the firm from the last year should be of $25 million, at a minimum.

Spouses and Relatives of L1 Visa Holders

Now let’s focus a bit on L1 dependent visas. As a holder of an L-1 visa moves to the US on a permanent basis, it makes sense to get the family united for the entire duration of time spent there.

Therefore, spouses and children that are eligible to apply will have the possibility to stay in the US on the basis of L2 visa. They can enter the US on the basis of L1 nonimmigrant status.

However, children must not be married and must be under the age of 21. As for the success rate of the L2 visa holders, it will depend on the success of the holder of the L1 visa. Therefore, only after the L1 visa has been granted can the L1 dependent apply for a visa as well.

If your spouse’s petition is approved, he/she will be provided the same period of stay as the holder of the L-1 visa.

Nevertheless, even though you have this possibility, it’s worth pointing out that there’s no certainty that your spouse will absolutely get an extension. Aside from this, usually, the USCIS denies, or may even choose to revoke L2 visas if it determines that the holder hasn’t remained in the same place as the L1 visa holder.

In essence, if you want to request a change in your current status or get an extension, relatives may apply together under the form I-539.

As a spouse or relative of an L-1 worker, you can also get authorization to work in the US, granted that you meet a number of conditions.

In this respect, you are required to fill a form application – namely the I-765 – and pay a fee for getting employment authorization. After this application is approved, then you will no longer have to face any restrictions when it comes to working in the US.

L1 Visa Renewal Processing Time

Another aspect that should be of interest to you is the L1 visa renewal processing time. The application process for a visa can be stressful. The same could be said about a visa renewal application process.

Although you don’t have to worry about potential visa interview questions or anything of the sort, you might be nervous. As for the duration of the processing time, it will depend on several factors.

One of the main factors that matters is actually the service center processing your petition. In some cases, the process can last for up to eight months or so. Still, the average processing time is of six months.

Moving on, all L-visa extensions entail filing the same I-129 petition. This is primarily why the processing times don’t differ much.

So, in the case of the L-1A extension or the L-1B extension, the processing time isn’t likely to be any different.

L1 Visa Premium Processing Time

Let’s move on to the processing time of the L1 visa premium – are there any differences? Premium processing is accessible in exchange for an additional fee. This is an option if the employer files the petition.

On the contrary, one will have to pay for the regular processing fee.

Premium processing effectively entails that the application process is accelerated. With that in mind, if you request an answer sooner, this is an option worth considering.

As the USCIS puts it, if you choose this option, this means that your petition will be dealt with in 15 calendar days. At the moment, the fee for premium processing is of $1,410.

On a different note, we would like to outline that even if you were to choose this option, there’s still no guarantee that your application will be approved. It only guarantees that your petition will be addressed in 15 calendar days.

In case your petition is rejected, then you will get the money you paid for the premium processing fee back.

L1 Visa Renewal Fees

Furthermore, when it comes to the topic of the L1 visa renewal, the application process is quite similar to when you’re applying for the visa. That is to say, things are quite similar when it comes to the fees you have to pay.

So, your employer will have to cover the following fees:

  • $460 – this covers the basic price of filing the I-120 application
  • $500 – fraud prevention and detection fee

Moving on, the Public Law 114-113 fee, as well as the ACIWA fee, they both apply only to the initial filling.

What about the premium processing fee? This fee can be paid either by you or by your employer. Once again, premium processing may or may not be available to you – depending on your individual circumstances.

As for the application process for L2 dependent visas, these also come with several costs. More specifically, your employer will have to pay a $370 fee. This will cover the cost for the I-539 petition.

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We hope that our article on L1 visa renewal has answered most of the questions you had on the topic. As long as you follow the specifications indicated in this article, you should be on the path to getting your extension. Make sure that you gather all the necessary documents and you get your facts straight before starting the process. As long as you factor this in, the process will be simplified.

In case you want to get financing as a non-US resident, you can always consider Stilt. We are more than eager to assist you, and we’ll be happy to clarify our terms and conditions to you. Should you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can L1 Visas Be Renewed?

Yes, L1 visas can be renewed. L1A visas can be renewed for a maximum stay of seven years, and L1B visas can be renewed for up to five years.

What is the Process for Renewing an L1 Visa?

To renew an L1 visa, your employer must file a new I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your current L1 status expires. The renewal process involves demonstrating that the qualifying employment relationship continues to exist.

What Documents are Required for L1 Visa Renewal?

Documents required typically include the current L1 visa, the original I-129 petition, recent pay stubs, a letter from your employer detailing the need for your continued employment in the U.S., and any other documents supporting the extension.

How Long Does the L1 Visa Renewal Process Take?

The processing time for L1 visa renewal varies but generally takes a few months. Employers can opt for premium processing for a faster decision, usually within 15 calendar days.

Can I Stay in the U.S. While My L1 Visa Renewal is Being Processed?

Yes, you can stay in the U.S. while your L1 visa renewal is being processed if you file the renewal petition before your current status expires and maintain lawful employment with your L1 sponsor.

Are There Any Limits to the Number of Times an L1 Visa Can Be Renewed?

L1 visas can only be renewed up to the maximum allowed period (seven years for L1A and five years for L1B). There are no limits to the number of times you can renew within this period.

What Happens if My L1 Visa Renewal is Denied?

If your L1 visa renewal is denied, you may need to leave the U.S. immediately. Overstaying can result in being barred from re-entry to the U.S. for a certain period.

Can My Dependents Stay in the U.S. During My L1 Visa Renewal Process?

Your dependents can stay in the U.S. during your L1 visa renewal process as long as they maintain their L2 dependent status.

Is it Possible to Change Employers While Renewing an L1 Visa?

L1 visas are employer-specific, so changing employers would require a new L1 petition by the new employer, not a renewal of the current visa.

Can I Travel Outside the U.S. During the L1 Visa Renewal Process?

Traveling outside the U.S. during the L1 visa renewal process can be risky. If your visa has expired, you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. until the renewal is approved.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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