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Difference Between H1 Visa and L1 Visa

Definition of H1 Visa and L1 Visa

H1 and L1 visas are nonimmigrant Visas that enable non-US nationals to work legally in the United States.

The H1 visa was specifically created for foreign workers pursuing specialty occupations requiring specific educational credentials or technical know-how, typically IT, engineering, and science professionals.

With its three-year limit (extendible by three more), holders may work in the United States through their sponsor company for up to three years at a time with possible extensions of three more years as desired.

The L1 visa is reserved for foreign employees transferred from U.S. subsidiaries, affiliates or branches of multinational companies that employ them, including transferees from subsidiaries overseas.

Holders may remain employed up to three years with possible extension for up to seven more. There are two subcategories within this visa category – L1A is for managers and executives while L1B accommodates employees possessing special knowledge.

Sponsoring employers are responsible for paying all application costs and associated fees; both visa types also contain eligibility criteria.

Understanding the difference between L1 visa and H1 visa is vitally important

There are various reasons for it being important to understand the distinctions between L1 and H1 visas:

Eligibility Criteria Each visa category has specific eligibility requirements and it’s essential that you know which category fits before commencing the application process. Applying for the wrong category could result in your application being declined or delayed and cost you both time and money in rejection fees and possible delays to process it properly.

Employment Type: H1 and L1 visas have different purposes and types of employment opportunities available to them, with H1 visas specifically targeting professionals specializing in specialty occupations while L1s accommodate employees being transferred from multinational firms into U.S. facilities.
Duration of Stay: There are different durations for H1 visas and L1 Visas in the U.S. to help plan both personal and professional lives more effectively. Knowing exactly how long each type of visa allows can assist with decision-making for personal and professional goals in the country.
Benefits and Drawbacks of L1 Visas: Every visa category comes with advantages and disadvantages that should help inform your decision about which option best meets your needs. An H1 visa, for instance, might give more employment flexibility while L1 may provide for an easier application process.

Understanding the difference between an H1 and an L1 visa application can be crucial in optimizing your chances of approval and increasing your chances for approval.

What is the Difference between H1 Visa and L1 Visa?

H1 Visa and L1 Visa vary substantially in their requirements and criteria for approval.

Visa Purpose: H1 visas are designated to professionals requiring specific education or technical expertise for their positions, while L1 visas can be extended to employees employed by multinational corporations who will transfer into an American branch, affiliate, or subsidiary branch of that same organization.
Eligibility Criteria: H1 and L1 visa eligibility requirements differ, with H1 holders needing at least a bachelor’s degree related to their specialty occupation; L1 candidates, however, need only have been employed with their multinational firm for at least 12 months prior to moving onto another assignment.
Duration of Stay: There are various differences in the duration of stay between H1 visas and L1 visas. An H1 allows its holder to work in the U.S. under their sponsor company for three (3) years with an optional extension up to three more. Alternatively, L1 visa holders have three-year stays that could potentially extend further up to seven.
Employer Requirements: An H1 visa must be tied to an employer or job; while L1 visas allow tying one job within an L1 company as long as its job falls into one of their U.S. subsidiaries or branches if applicable. A new petition for an H1 visa would need to be submitted if switching employers, while with an L1 you are free to switch jobs within it without filing another petition application.

Spouses & Dependent Children: H4 and L2 visa-holders spouses and dependent children can enter the U.S. using H4 or L2 Visas respectively; holders can study or apply for work authorization while H4 holders and L2 holders remain within these categories.

Dual Intent: An L1 visa does NOT permit dual intent. Understanding the differences between L1 and H1 visas will enable you to select which category best matches your situation; doing this increases your odds of approval.


The H1 Visa is an individual type of visa with its own set of rules, eligibility criteria and purposes. Specifically designed to accommodate foreign workers in specialty occupations. Meanwhile the L1 visa was made for multinational corporations to transfer employees into U.S. subsidiaries or branches.

Understanding the differences between these two visas is crucial to selecting an ideal category of visa that will increase your odds of approval, whether as an employer looking for foreign workers to sponsor, or as an immigrant seeking entry to America. Being aware of requirements and restrictions of each type will enable you to meet your goals more successfully – be they being sponsored from abroad by an American employer, or immigrating in search of work here in America.