The article is for those that are interested in L1 visa extension or renewal and discusses how to extend and renew an L1 visa for USA.
The L1 visa allows international companies with office in the US to bring certain managers, executives and employees with specialized knowledge from offices outside the US to an office, branch, affiliate, parent or subsidiary in the US.
In addition, the L1 visa allows employees to come to the US to establish a new office for the company or work in a pre-existing US office.
The L1 visa workers can bring their spouse and children under 21 to the United States as dependents under the L2 visa and they are granted the same period of stay in the US as the L1 employee.
- How to extend or renew an L1 visa for USA?
- When to apply for L1 visa extension?
- What is the L1 visa extension or renewal process?
- L1 visa extension documents
- L2 visa extension for spouses and children
- L1 Blanket Visa extension
- What is the L1 visa extension processing time?
- How to extend the L1 visa beyond 5 and 7 years?
1. How to extend or renew an L1 visa for USA?
There are two L1 visa classifications, and the terms of the L1 visa extension and renewal depends on what classification the foreign worker came under – the L-1A visa for managers and executives or L-1B visa for employees with specialized knowledge.
The L-1A classification is for foreign workers coming to the United States temporarily to perform services in a managerial or executive capacity and the initial period of stay is 1 year if the employee is entering the US to establish a new office, otherwise the initial period of stay is 3 years. The maximum period of stay in the US on an L-1A classification is 7 years.
The L-1B classification is for foreign employees coming to the United States temporarily to perform services that require specialized knowledge and the initial period of stay is 1 year if the employee is entering the US to be employed in a new office, otherwise the initial period of stay is 3 years. The maximum period of stay in the US for a L-1B employee is 5 years.
The L1 visa extension and renewal is granted in 2-year increments up to the maximum time allowed for each L1 visa classification – 7 years for foreign employees in L-1A status and 5 years for L-1B. The period of time spent outside the United States for business or pleasure can be recaptured for the L1 visa extension and renewal.
2. When to apply for the L1 Visa extension?
You can apply for the L1 visa extension and renewal before the initial period of stay expires.
Prior to the expiration of the initial L1 period of stay granted on form I-94, the employer, either the US or foreign employing company, must file a petition with USCIS on behalf of the foreign employee, similar to the one filed for the initial L1 visa.
It is important to note that the petition for the L1 visa extension and renewal must be filed and received by the USCIS prior to expiration date listed on your I-94 records.
For example, if you came to USA on an L1 visa on April 1, 2020 for an initial 1-year, then your I-94 record will show March 31, 2021 as the expiration date of your L1 visa. This means you must file your L1 visa extension or renewal and the USCIS must receive your petition at the latest on March 31, 2021.
As long as USCIS receives the L1 visa extension or renewal application before the I-94 status expires, the foreign employee is protected until USCIS reaches a decision. To check the most recent I-94 records please visit the US Department of Homeland Security.
The employer can submit the L1 extension or renewal 6 months or less prior to the expiration date specified on the I-94 record, but it is always recommended to apply as soon as possible and not wait until last minute to file for the L1 visa extension or renewal.
3. What is the L1 Visa extension or renewal process?
The process for obtaining an L1 visa extension or renewal is very similar to the process involved with getting the initial L1 visa. The employer needs to file a separate L1 visa petition with USCIS on your behalf before the expiration date on your I-94.
4. L1 Visa extension documents
There are a number of documents that should be submitted with USCIS at the time of filing the application for the L1 visa extension or renewal.
By way of example, below we provide of non-exhaustive list of documents to be sent to USCIS for the extension or renewal. The specific documents you need to submit for the L1 visa extension will vary from case to case and depend on your particular circumstances.
To apply for an L1 visa extension you must submit some of the following L1 visa extension documents:
- Evidence of foreign employee’s education and experience, including degree, CV, letters from employers abroad, and others.
- Evidence of employment abroad with sponsoring employer, including dates of employment, position, job description and responsibilities, and salary for the 3 years prior to the date of L1 application.
- Letter from sponsoring employer detailing the sponsored position, including job description and responsibilities, salary and benefits, work schedule, and others.
- Evidence that the foreign employee has been employed by the sponsoring company while in the United States for the period of the initial L1 visa; proof can include copies of pay slips, W-2 form or others.
- Evidence the sponsoring employer is conducting business in the United States, including IRS records or financial statements.
- For the new office L-1A petition, evidence that the new office has staff sufficient to support a managerial or executive position, including payroll summary, W-2 forms, 1099s, employment contracts and others.
- USCIS filing fee
- USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
5. L2 visa extension for spouses and children
Regarding the L2 visa extension for spouse and children under 21 of L1 visa holders, your L2 spouse and dependents must file a separate petition with USCIS to extend their visas. The L2 visa extension should be filed before the expiration of the L2 status together with supporting documents and the L1 visa extension for the principal L1 employee.
If the L1 visa extension was previously granted, then the spouse and children can submit their L2 visa extension with a copy of the L1 visa extension approval notice and supporting documents.
6. L1 Blanket Visa extension
In the case of L1 Blanket visa extension for large employers, the sponsoring company can file one application with supporting documents for many foreign employees at a time, instead of filing an application for each foreign worker individually.
To be able to qualify for an L1 blanket visa extension, the employer must have at least 3 or more foreign branches, subsidiaries and affiliates, have an office in the United States and meet one of the following criteria:
- Have at least 1,000 US workers,
- The US subsidiaries had at least $25 million in combined sales or
- The company has at least 10 L1 visas approved during the previous 12-month period.
7. What is the L1 visa extension processing time?
Generally, with regular processing it takes USCIS approximately 4 to 6 months to adjudicate an L1 visa extension or renewal and send a notice of decision depending on the service center that processes the petition.
While on average most petitions are decided within 6 months, depending on the time of the year and the processing center adjudicating the L1 visa extension it can take as little as 1 month or as much as 11 months.
Additionally, premium processing is also available for L1 visa extension and renewals for an additional fee of $2,500. This fee must be paid in addition to all other filing fees required for a standard L1 visa extension discussed above. The filing fees are final and non-refundable, meaning that regardless of the success of L1 extension the fees must be paid and are not refunded if the application is not successful.
With premium processing, the L1 visa extension or renewal is processed and a decision is issued within 15 calendar days. L1 visa extension or renewal takes approximately 4 to 6 months with regular processing.
However, if USCIS fails to process the application within the 15-day period, they will refund the additional fee. It is important to note that selecting premium processing does not guarantee that the decision is favorable.
8. How to extend the L1 visa beyond 5 and 7 years?
After the maximum period of stay in the USA in L status has been reached – 7 years for L-1A visa holders or 5 years for L-1B visa holders – the foreign employee must leave the United States and reside and work outside the country for at least 1 year in the immediate past year before he or she can apply for a new L1 visa or seek an extension or change of status in the L or H visa categories.
To extend the L1 visa beyond 5 and 7 years you must be outside of the US for at least 1 year before you can reapply for an L1 visa.
Any brief physical presence in the USA for pleasure or business does not count towards the 1-year requirements.
For the L2 visa issued to dependents, when the L1 visa maximum period of stay has been reached so does the L2 visa.
To reapply for an L1 visa after the maximum period of stay has been reached, you should follow the same application process as with the initial L1 visa.
Malescu Law can assist
The application for the L1 visa extension for USA is complex and often a daunting process.
Our experienced L1 Visa Lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist you with your L1 visa extension and renewal and secure an L2 visa for your dependents.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers