L1 Visa Extension: Everything You Need To Know

Are you looking to renew your L1 Visa and stay in the United States a bit longer? Whether you are simply hoping to continue your work or in the process of applying for a green card, you’re in the right place. Here we will explore everything you need to know about the L1 Visa and the extension/renewal process.


What is the L1 Visa?

L1 Visas are granted to non-immigrant employees of international companies with offices in both the home country and in the United States. Also, one can be eligible for an L1 visa if they work for an international company that intends to open a new office located in the US while maintaining the interests of the home country.

The L1 visa allows for such workers to relocate to the US for work so long as they have worked abroad for the same company for at least one year prior to the start of the L1 visa. Additionally, the US office must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company.


L1 Visa Extension

The initial length of time for an L1 visa is up to three years. However, unlike some forms of US visas, it is possible to apply for an extension of your L1 visa. There are two sub-classes of the L1 visa and each has a separate maximum duration of stay within the US. The L1 visa extension can be granted in two-year increments at a time up to the maximum duration allowed by law.

The L1A visa category exists for managers and executives. This visa has a maximum period of stay of seven years. The L1B visa category is for workers with specialized knowledge and has one extension available for a period of five years.

If you, or your employee, frequently spend time in both the US and abroad, you may be able to get some additional time beyond your maximum duration allowed. The time limit refers to the actual time spent within the US. This means that any period of time, only in increments of one full day at a time, that is spent outside the US for either business or pleasure can be recaptured while seeking an extension.


What is the L1 Visa Extension Process?

Luckily, the process for obtaining an extension of an L1 visa is very similar to the initial L1 visa process. The employer must still file a separate petition on the applicant’s behalf prior to the expiration date listed on the I-94. If you’d like some additional information on the initial L1 Visa application process, this article will lay out all of the details: Your Guide to L1 Visa Requirements.

L1 Visa Extension Required Documents
To file an L1 visa extension, the following documents are required to be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • Proof that the applicant has been employed with the company since living in the US
  • Evidence that the applicant’s degree (or foreign equivalent) is relevant to their work in the US
  • A letter from the qualifying employer stating the applicant’s dates of employment, responsibilities, and salary in the previous three years of employment
  • Support letter from the petitioner that includes salary, work schedule, job duties, terms of employment, etc.
  • USCIS filing fee
  • Any recapture time (time spent outside the US for business or pleasure) that you want to claim toward the extension time
  • Completed I-129 form (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)


How to Demonstrate Recapture Time

In order to recapture any time spent outside of the US, the petitioner must submit a copy of any travel itineraries including the number of days spent overseas. Evidence must also be provided demonstrating a physical presence outside of the US. Examples of this include boarding passes, plane tickets, passport stamps, etc.

If you fail to submit or do not have the proof required, the USCIS will deny your request to recapture time automatically. However, this will not deny the L1 visa extension application automatically.


Regular L1 visa extension and blanket extensions

The USCIS has established a program where employers that hire a significant number of intra-company transfer employees can file just one petition for many workers at a time, rather than just one. On the other hand, the typical program, as described above, will require employers to submit an application for L1 visa extension approval for every L1 visa employee.

If you would like additional information about the differences between the traditional L1 visa extension process and the blanket one, please check out the following article from our blog: What is the Difference Between an L1-Blanket and an L1-Individual Visa?.


What About Family?

A successful L1 visa petitioner can have their spouse and unmarried children under 21 come to the US, too. This is the L2 visa. Even if the L1 visa holder is granted an extension, your family is not automatically included. To request a change of status or extension of stay as an L2 visa holder, relatives may apply together on form I-539. This is the Application to Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status.


L1 Visa Extension Processing Time

The L1 visa extension processing time varies depending on the service center that is processing the petition. Some of the popular service centers have a backlog. Here the processing time for an L1 visa extension take more than 8 months. Most petitions, however, take about 6 months to process. The processing time for both the L1A and L1B visa extensions are usually about the same.


Can I Apply for a Green Card with an L1 Visa?

You can receive permanent residency after being issued an L-1A visa because it is considered a “dual intent” visa. If you are an L1 visa holder you are able to apply for lawful permanent residency. You can apply for your green card without jeopardizing your nonimmigrant status.

To change your status from L1A visa to a permanent resident, there are a few steps that must be taken. First, your employer must submit a Petition for Alien Worker (I-140 Form) to the USCIS. If your priority dates are current, your employer is able to jointly file for your adjustment of status. However, if you are currently living outside of the US, you have to wait for the I-140 to be approved.

There are some changes between the green card process for the L1A and L1B visas. A seasoned immigration attorney can be a lot of help if you’re seeking permanent residency. This way you know that all the proper steps are being taken for your specific circumstances.


What are the L1 Visa Extension Fees?

Filing for an L-1A or L-1B visa extension is very similar to filing for the initial visa. Therefore the fees are also very similar. Your employer will be responsible for the I-129 basic filing fee of $460 and the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500.

It’s important to note that the Public Law 114-113 fee and ACWIA fee are only applicable to the initial filing. So, nothing to worry about this time. As for the premium processing fee, either you or your employer may pay this. Depending on your situation, premium processing may or may not be appropriate for your case.

The L2 visa extension is not free either. Any L2 dependent visas will subject your employer to a $370 filing fee for the I-539 petition.


Do I Need An Immigration Attorney?

Obtaining an L1 Visa and then seeking extension is a daunting process. Even though your employer will be handling the filing and fees, that is not all of it. Your employer may not always know what is best for your particular situation. Plus, the process of getting your green card can be even more intense.


LawTrades knows Immigration Law

There is no reason to stumble in the dark on any immigration issues. LawTrades can match you up with a seasoned immigration attorney. You’ll be able to navigate all of the visa and green card processes with ease.