Guide to the L1B Visa

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • H1B workers laid off have two grace periods: a 60-day period to find new employment or change status and a 10-day period for departure or status adjustments.
  • Employers must notify USCIS of terminations, and workers must file for new visas due to H1B’s employer-specific nature.
  • Options include changing to a B-1/B-2 visa or seeking new employment.
  • Overstaying can lead to re-entry bans, and employers may bear return transportation costs.

L1B visas are special visas available for employers wishing to transfer employees from a foreign branch, subsidiary, affiliate, parent, or related corporate entity to work at a related U.S. Entity.  If you find yourself in the midst of a potential intercompany transfer, an L1 visa will surely be involved. 

Read on to learn more, or check out our video Complete Guide on How to apply for L1B Visa!

What Is an L1B Visa?

To begin with, an L1B visa represents a nonimmigrant visa, which is granted to foreign employees. Basically, in order to get this type of visa, you should be a specialized knowledge professional. What does specialized knowledge entail, though?

Basically, specialized knowledge implies possessing specific knowledge regarding an organization’s product, research, service, equipment, management, technique or other similar aspects, as well as the way in which these apply in international markets. It may also refer to possessing specialized knowledge or expertise when it comes to the procedures or processes of an organization.

Through this type of visa, companies can choose to relocate employees in the US with the purpose of setting up a new branch in the country, for instance. The same could be done for establishing a new organization or affiliate.

L1B Visa Benefits

Moving on to some of the benefits associated with this type of visa, what is worth noting? An L1B Visa comes with the following benefits: for one thing, if you have this visa, the law allows you to live, travel and work in the US. At the same time, you might be accompanied in the US by dependents, according to the law.

You also have the possibility to apply for permanent residency, if you’re considering settling in the US. Another benefit worth mentioning would be that thanks to this visa, companies might consider expanding their expertise in the US. Evidently, this can lead to numerous opportunities, as well as the chance to maximize their revenue.

You can take advantage of some of the perks enjoyed by US residents, such as getting a mortgage as an L1B visa holder or getting a visa loan depending on your specific needs.

L1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge

It goes without saying that in order to qualify for an L1B visa, you have to meet specific criteria. Basically, as a specialized knowledge employee, you must be more than familiar with the interest of the employer. Your knowledge has to be essential for the development of the program or for setting up the company.

Aside from this, you must be a member of a particular profession, such as the following: physicians, lawyers, architects, teachers, engineers, and the list could go on.

You need to demonstrate advanced knowledge and experience in your chosen profession. Essentially, this knowledge must be relevant to the establishing of the new company branch in the US.

To that end, the petition should prove that the applicant has qualifications that are unique. In other words, not many people possess the same skills. In addition to that, the higher level of knowledge must be connected with the company, indicating the difference between the specialized knowledge employee and other employees.

Who Is Eligible for an L1B Visa?

Now we would like to look in closer detail at the eligibility criteria when it comes to the L1B visa. What specifications should be met by both employees and employers? Each category has to meet particular criteria.

Let’s start with the employees – what are the requirements you must address? Firstly, an employee should have been working for an organization abroad for an entire year in a three-year period prior to arriving in the US.

Simultaneously, employees are required to enter the US in order to perform services in a designated area of specialized knowledge, working for a branch of the same organization or employer.

What about the employer: what are the criteria that one should meet to qualify? The employer is expected to have a relationship with a foreign affiliate, company or branch. Concurrently, the employer should do business at the present time, or plan on doing business in the foreseeable future in the US. Aside from this, one has to operate in at least another country, during the time the L1B visa holder remains in the US.

In case the employee is transferred in order to set up a new office in the US, then as an employer, one must address some other conditions. Firstly, the employer should demonstrate the fact that he/she can establish a new office. This is, of course, also related to his/her financial ability to start the new business in the US and pay the employee.

L1B Visa Required Documents

Each visa application process requires a range of documents that prove your eligibility to get that type of visa. With that in mind, what are the documents you need to submit prior to applying for an L1B visa?

Note that the application process can be quite lengthy, meaning that you should pay close attention to all the steps, to avoid complications and mistakes.

  • Your L1 visa interview appointment letter
  • Receipts indicating that you have paid all the necessary visa fees that are applicable in your case
  • The Form DS-160 confirmation page and code
  • For individual petitions: form I-129 and one copy, as well as form I-797
  • For blanket petitions, you have to file form I-129S accompanied by two copies and three copies of form I-797.
  • A letter from the employer indicating your job description and transfer
  • Adequate proof pointing out that you’ve worked with your employer for a year within the past three years, as this is one of the key eligibility criteria you must meet.
  • Letters from previous employers, accompanied by the contact information of your supervisors.
  • The contact information of two co-workers from your present and previous job positions.
  • Your resume
  • Photographs of both the inside and outside of your place of work
  • A valid passport
  • A photograph addressing the US visa photograph requirements

How to Apply for an L1B Visa

As you can see, you have to gather a wide range of documents prior to applying for an L1B visa. The first step would be getting a transfer order. That is to say, your employer who has an affiliate or a branch in the US has to deliver an intracompany transfer offer in a specialized knowledge position. This could also be a managerial or executive position. From this point onward, you can start the actual application process.

Once the employer completes and submits form I-129 and L supplement, you should get the form I-129 receipt number. You’ll find this number on the approved I-129 petition.

The next step is completing the form DS-160. You can do this online. While completing the form, you have to include a range of details regarding your purpose of traveling to the US, among other things. Based on this form, the US embassy will make a decision regarding your application. Once you submit the form, you’ll receive a confirmation number and page. Make sure you keep them as you’ll need them later on.

The next step is paying the $190 fee. This processing fee is required for all applicants.

The following step is scheduling an interview with the officials of the US embassy. It’s highly advisable to schedule the interview as soon as possible. That’s because usually, embassies have very hectic and busy schedules. After scheduling an interview, you will most likely receive a visa interview appointment letter.

When you attend the visa interview, you have to bring the documents we included in the section above. It goes without saying that the interview represents a key part of the application process, and it will play a major role in the decision making process. An official will interview you and ask you a series of questions based on the document you’ve submitted.

Essentially, the official wants to assess your intentions for traveling to the US, to demonstrate that your claims are indeed truthful and that you will be working in the US within a designated company or branch. It’s important for the interview to go well. If it does, this means that your visa will be processed in the foreseeable future.

Your passport will also be sent out to you via courier service to the passport location or visa collection location you included when you made the visa interview appointment.

The validity of your visa entails the time you can stay in the US and continue working. You can find out information about this on your form I-94. This is the form you get upon entering the US. When the time frame indicated there is prone to expire, your employer might choose to file for an extension. In case the extension is approved by the US embassy, you may prolong your stay in the US.

How Much Does an L1B Visa Cost?

Usually, when you are applying for a visa, you are required to pay a processing fee. The same goes in the case of the L1B visa. The processing fee you’ll have to pay is of $190. You have to pay this so that your application is processed.

In addition to that, you might be liable to pay additional fees, depending on your home country or the reciprocity measures in the US. Make sure that you keep all the receipts once you pay the fees, as you will be expected to present them with your documentation.

L1B Visa Processing Time

As a visa holder, you will most likely want to know the processing time. Basically, it can take somewhere between three and four months to get a response regarding your L1B visa application.

If the employer files an individual petition, then the processing time might be longer than if the employer would file a blanket petition. Concurrently, note that there is also the option of premium processing. That is to say, in exchange for an additional fee, the visa application can be processed in up to three weeks.

Hence, if it’s a matter of urgency, one could choose to pay this fee to speed things up.

L1B to L1A Conversion

As an L1B visa holder, the law allows you to stay in the US for up to five years. Nonetheless, you have the possibility of changing your status to an L1A visa holder. In this case, the law permits you to stay in the US for up to seven years.

Note that you should file the petition for changing your status prior to the date when your L1B visa expires. In addition to that, it goes without saying that you should be eligible, as well.

Who is eligible for an L1A visa? Basically, you have to fulfill the following conditions:

  • Manage a subdivision, component or department in an organization;
  • Supervise the work of other employees who hold managerial, professional positions in the company, or manage essential responsibilities in the company’s subdivision;
  • Have an authority position in the company, the right to hire and fire, suggest promotions, so on and so forth;
  • Be responsible for establishing policies and goals, exercising discretion when completing daily operations;

Considering that L1B represents an employee specific visa, as a holder of this visa, you cannot choose to change your employer. Nonetheless, there are some exceptions to the rule, allowing certain L1B employees to change their status, in this way, changing their employers as well.

Read More


The application process for the L1B visa isn’t the easiest one, as you can see from above. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. All you have to do is take things one step at a time, and you’ll see that everything will go smoothly.

At the same time, it’s always best to get informed regarding the steps you have to follow. In this respect, we hope that our introductory guide has been informative. In case you need assistance with financing, Stilt is always here for you. We provide specific financing offers for visa holders in the US.

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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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