Can I Apply for L1 Visa While in the USA?

Are you an employee of a company located outside the US, wanting to work for the same company’s branch that’s located within the US? If yes, you might be eligible for an L1 visa. But what if you’re already in the US on a different visa and want to apply for an L1 visa? Can you apply for an L1 visa while in the US?

The answer isn’t straightforward, but let’s dive into the details to better understand your options.

Key Takeaways

  • An L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows intracompany transferees to work for their employer’s US branch.
  • If you are outside the US, you can apply for an L1 visa through the consular services at a US embassy or consulate in your home country.
  • If you are already in the US on a different visa, you may be able to change your status to an L1 visa, but it is a complicated process.
  • To change your status, you need to have a valid L1 petition approved by USCIS, and you must be maintaining valid non-immigrant status in the US.
  • If you entered the US on a visa waiver program, you cannot change your status to an L1 visa.
  • If you entered the US as a B-1/B-2 visitor, your status can be changed but doing so will require you to submit to USCIS an I-129 application and an I-539 form indicating your intentions to change your status.
  • It’s helpful to have legal guidance if you’re considering changing your status to an L1 visa.
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Understanding L1 Visas

An L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals who are employed in managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge positions to work for their employer’s US branch for up to 7 years. To apply for an L1 visa, the US employer first needs to file a petition, and once approved, the employee can apply for an L1 visa at a US embassy or consulate in their home country.

Can I Apply for an L1 Visa While in the USA?

If you are already in the USA on a non-immigrant visa such as a visitor visa or a student visa, you may be eligible to change your status to an L1 visa. However, changing your status is a complicated process and can be risky.

To change your status, you need to have a valid L1 petition approved by USCIS, and you must be maintaining valid non-immigrant status in the US. If you entered the US on a visa waiver program, you cannot change your status to an L1 visa.

If you entered the US as a B-1/B-2 visitor, your status can be changed, but doing so will require you to submit to USCIS an I-129 application and an I-539 form indicating your intentions to change your status. It’s helpful to have legal guidance if you’re considering changing your status to an L1 visa, as the process can be cumbersome and may have negative implications if not done correctly.

Benefits of Applying for an L1 Visa

One significant advantage of applying for an L1 visa is that it may lead to permanent residency in the US. If you’re employed by the US branch of your company for at least one or two years, you may be able to apply for a Green Card.

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Also, applicants holding L1 visas are eligible to bring their spouse and dependent children to the US on an L2 visa. Spouses of L1 visa holders are eligible to apply for work authorization in the US, which can help relieve stress in situations where one spouse needs to work in the US to make ends meet.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you’re already in the US on a non-immigrant visa and want to apply for an L1 visa, you can change your status. But, if you’re not in a protected status, i.e., your current visa did not have the ability to change status legally, it’s not recommended to try to change your status to an L1 visa.

The process can be complicated and may have negative implications if not done correctly. It is helpful to have legal guidance if you’re considering changing your status to an L1 visa.

About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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