• December 2019
    M T W T F S S
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What are the differences between the H-1A, H-1B, L-1A and L-1B visas in the US?

The U.S issues temporary visas for people who are working in any of its States. The main categories of these temporary worker visas are the ones in the title; H-1A, H-1B and the L Visas (L-1A and L-1B). Let’s break them down:


Issued to a person working within a specialty occupation. The official USCIS website describes a specialty occupation as “one which requires university-level education tied with technical or theoretical expertise in either one or more of the following specialized fields: information technology, medicine, architecture, science, mathematics, and engineering. It is therefore a temporary work visa issued to professionals like lawyers, university professors, surgeons, and security researchers among other professionals.”

An H-1B is valid for 6 years, and considered as a dual-intent visa because the visa-holder can apply for and receive a green card, which would set the visa-holder towards the path to citizenship. Importantly, this visa can be transferred among companies. Upon the expiration of the validity period, the visa-holder can request for an extension. There is also the H-1B1 which, unlike the H-1B, only requires the visa-holder to have just a post-secondary degree that certifies that he or she has completed a four-year course within a specific specialized field of study.


The issuing of this temporary work visa was discontinued, with the last visa being issued in 2000. H-1A visa was only available to registered foreign nurses who wanted to work in the U.S. It was issued under the Nursing Relief Act, which was enacted in 1989 following a shortage of registered nurses within the health-care sector.


This visa is available to managers and execs of a company with offices in both the applicant’s country and the U.S. It requires the employee, referred to as an “intracompany transferee,” to have worked in the foreign office for at least one year within three years prior to application.

There are two types: L-1A and L-1B. Also, for a company to sponsor its employee for either an L-1A or L-1B visa, that employee must have been employed by the company for at least two years. Besides, unlike H-1A and H-1B, stamping for either L-1A or L-1B visa is done for only one year.


This temporary worker visa is issued to executives, managers, and any other person who will work in an executive role with supervisory responsibility over a selected group of professional staff. The initial validity period of the visa is three years, and can be extended twice, with each extension being valid for two years. Its maximum validity period is therefore 7 years. This visa cannot be transferred between companies.


This visa is issued to specialized knowledge staff, that is employees who are quite knowledgeable about the products of the company, or its research, procedures, proprietary technique, and internal systems. The initial validity period of the visa is three years, which can be extended for another two years. Therefore, its maximum validity period is 5 years. Like the L-1A visa, it cannot be transferred between companies.

I hope this helps! If you’re interested in speaking about these visas with an immigration attorney feel free to visit LawTrades. We’ve helped many foreign based individuals sort through their immigration requirements by providing a clear and easy platform to connect with quality immigration lawyers. We offer free initial consults and affordable flat-fee pricing. Message me if you have any questions!