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L-1 Visa to Green Card: Your Path to Permanent Residency
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L-1 Visa to Green Card: Your Path to Permanent Residency

For a professional in the U.S. on an L-1 visa, securing a green card with the help of an experienced L-1 visa lawyer represents more than just a legal status — it signifies stability, opportunity, and the chance to put down roots in a country they've come to call home.

While the L-1 visa is a valuable tool that allows international companies to manage global talent, visa holders face certain limitations. For these workers, transitioning from the L-1 visa to permanent residency opens doors to broader career prospects, educational opportunities for children, and a sense of belonging within American society.

However, this journey is not without its challenges. Careful planning and in-depth knowledge are needed to ensure a green card applicant meets employment-based eligibility criteria and complies with U.S. immigration law.

Below, our team at SimVisa explores the critical steps and considerations involved in moving from an L-1 visa to a green card, empowering individuals and families with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their future in the United States.

What Is the L-1 Visa?

The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows multinational companies to transfer employees from foreign offices to U.S. branches. This visa is particularly useful for executives, managers, and specialized knowledge workers who have worked for the foreign company for at least one continuous year within the past three years.

The L-1 visa is divided into two categories: L-1A for executives and managers and L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge. For companies, this visa is intended to facilitate the transfer of skilled personnel in order to strengthen U.S. operations. For visa holders, it can also be a stepping stone toward obtaining a green card, which grants permanent residency in the U.S.

What Is the L-1 Visa?

What Is a Dual Intent Visa?

A dual intent visa is a category of U.S. visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the country with the intention of both working temporarily and, if they wish, pursuing permanent residency.

Holders of dual intent visas, such as the L-1 visa, are initially admitted to the U.S. for a specific, temporary purpose. However, they can also apply for a green card without jeopardizing their current visa status. This flexibility is crucial for many professionals and their families as it facilitates a smoother transition from nonimmigrant to immigrant status.

L-1 Visa Timeline: How Long Does It Actually Take?

With the right road map, the path from an L-1 visa to a green card can become clearer.

The following table breaks down the crucial stages and timelines, offering a straightforward guide for L-1A and L-1B visa holders aiming for permanent residency:

Stage Details Duration
Initial L-1 Visa Validity L-1A (Executives and Managers): 3 years
L-1B (Specialized Knowledge): 3 years
3 years
Extension L-1A: Can be extended in increments of 2 years, up to a maximum of 7 years
L-1B: Can be extended in increments of 2 years, up to a maximum of 5 years
L-1A: Up to 7 years total
L-1B: Up to 5 years total
Application for Green Card (Permanent Residency) L-1A: Eligible for EB-1C category (priority workers); no labor certification required
L-1B: Eligible for EB-2 or EB-3 category; labor certification required
Varies based on category and processing time
Transition Period Adjustment of Status or consular processing after I-140 approval for a green card Several months to a few years, depending on category and country of origin
Overall Timeline L-1A: Can transition to green card typically within 1 to 2 years after I-140 approval
L-1B: Transition may take longer due to labor certification and wait times
Timeline from L-1 to green card can be from 1 to 5 or more years

Whether you're an executive, manager, or specialist, the L-1 visa can put you within reach of your American Dream. When you are equipped with knowledge of each stage of the immigration process, you’ll be one step closer to securing your place in the land of opportunity.

Why Apply for a Green Card From L-1 Status?

Transitioning from an L-1 visa to a green card opens a world of possibilities. Permanent residency status offers the freedom to work, study, and thrive in the United States on your terms, not your employer’s. Many choose this path for stability, family benefits, and the chance to call America home.

Reasons to Apply for a Green Card from an L-1 Visa Explanation
Permanent Residency Green card holders have permanent residency status in the U.S., allowing them to live and work freely
Job Flexibility L-1 visa holders are tied to a specific employer; green card holders can change jobs more easily
Family Sponsorship Green card holders can sponsor family members for immigration to the U.S., including spouses and children
Path to Citizenship After meeting residency and other requirements, green card holders can apply for U.S. citizenship
Travel Freedom While L-1 visas have travel restrictions, green card holders can travel freely in and out of the U.S.
Investment Opportunities Green card holders can invest in property, businesses, and other ventures more easily than visa holders
Education Benefits Green card holders may qualify for in-state tuition rates and scholarships at U.S. educational institutions
Retirement Benefits Eligibility for Social Security benefits and Medicare is easier for green card holders compared to visa holders

Transitioning from an L-1 visa to a green card isn't just about legal status — it's about securing your future in America. With job flexibility, educational opportunities, and pathways to citizenship, the green card offers a gateway to long-term success and fulfillment.

Charting Your Course: From the L-1 Visa to a Green Card

Are you considering a transition from an L-1 visa to a Green Card? Some pathways that may be open to you include family sponsorship and employment-based (EB) visas. Eligibility for each visa depends on your career and personal circumstances.

Option 1: Family Sponsorship

Family sponsorship is a common and straightforward path to obtaining a green card for L-1 visa holders. If you have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, they can sponsor you for a green card.

This process typically involves the family member filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf, indicating their relationship with you as a qualifying family member.


  • The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • You must have a qualifying relationship with the sponsor as their spouse, child. (unmarried and under 21 years old), or parent (if the sponsor is a U.S. citizen and is over 21 years old).
  • You must be admissible to the United States, which means you cannot have certain. criminal convictions or other issues that would make you ineligible for a green card.


  • The sponsoring family member files Form I-130 with supporting documentation proving the relationship.
  • If you are approved while inside the U.S. on an L-1 visa, you can typically file Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, to obtain your green card without leaving the country.
  • If you are approved while outside the United States, you will go through consular processing to complete your application.

Family sponsorship can be a reliable and efficient way to secure permanent residency, but you are only eligible if you have a qualifying relative who is willing to sponsor you.

Although this is one of the simplest paths to a green card, you must still take care to meet all requirements and follow the process correctly. Mistakes can cause delays or complications in your green card application.

Option 2: L-1 Visa to EB-1C Visa

The EB-1C visa offers a clear path to a green card for certain employees who work for multinational companies. This visa must be initiated by a U.S.-based branch of the company, and it is only available to managers and executives.

While the requirements are strict, the EB-1C is one of the most appealing employment-based visas for high-level workers looking to make their homes in the U.S.


  • You must have been employed abroad for at least one continuous year in the past three years by the same employer or its affiliate, subsidiary, or branch.
  • The U.S. employer must be a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the foreign employer.
  • You must be coming to the United States to work as an executive or manager for the same employer or a qualifying organization.


  • The U.S. employer files Form I-140 on your behalf.
  • The petition must include evidence that you have been employed abroad in a managerial or executive capacity and that the U.S. and foreign entities meet the qualifying relationship criteria.
  • If you are approved while in the U.S. on an L-1 visa, you can file an Adjustment of Status to obtain your green card.
  • If you are approved while abroad, you will undergo consular processing to complete your green card application.

Transitioning from an L-1 visa to an EB-1C visa requires careful documentation of your managerial or executive role and proof of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. employer and the foreign entity. This route offers a relatively fast track to obtaining a green card for eligible professionals.

Option 3: L-1 Visa to EB-2 or EB-3 Visa

For L-1 visa holders looking to obtain a green card through employment-based sponsorship, the EB-2 and EB-3 visa categories may offer a viable path, depending on your qualifications and job description.

Workers who hold advanced degrees or who can demonstrate exceptional ability in their fields may be eligible for the EB-2 visa. The EB-3 visa is available to professionals, skilled workers, and other workers.

Requirements for the EB-2 Visa:

  • You must have an advanced degree (master's degree or higher) or a bachelor's degree plus five years of subsequent experience in your field.
  • Your employer must demonstrate that the position requires an individual with your qualifications.

Requirements for the EB-3 Visa:

  • Your employer must demonstrate that qualified U.S. workers are unavailable to fill the position.
  • Skilled workers: You must have at least two years of job experience or training.
  • Professionals: You must possess a bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent, and the degree must be a requirement for the position.
  • Other workers: You must be able to perform unskilled labor that requires less than two years of higher education or training.


  • Your employer files Form I-140 on your behalf under either the EB-2 or EB-3 category, depending on your qualifications.
  • The petition must include evidence of your qualifications and the job requirements.
  • If you are approved while in the U.S., you can typically file for Adjustment of Status to obtain your green card.
  • If you are approved while abroad, you will go through consular processing to complete your green card application.

Whether your employer applies for an EB-2 and EB-3 visa depends on your educational background, work experience, and specific job requirements.

Both of these visas provide an avenue for skilled professionals and other workers to obtain permanent residency in the United States. However, they may have significant backlogs, with the EB-3 tending to have longer wait times.

Option 4: L-1 Visa to EB-5 Investor Visa

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program allows L-1 visa holders to obtain green cards by making a qualifying investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States. This option is particularly appealing for individuals who have the financial means to invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business and create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.


  • Make a minimum investment of $1.05 million (or $800,000 if the investment is made in a recognized Targeted Employment Area) in a new commercial enterprise in the United States.
  • Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of admission to the United States as a conditional permanent resident.


  • Conduct thorough due diligence and select a qualifying investment project.
  • File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, providing evidence of the investment and job creation or preservation.
  • If you are approved while in the U.S. on an L-1 visa, you can then file for Adjustment of Status.
  • If you are approved while abroad, you will go through consular processing to complete your green card application.

Success in the EB-5 process requires careful planning, as it involves a substantial investment and compliance with job creation requirements. However, this visa offers a direct path to obtaining permanent residency for those willing and able to make a significant financial contribution to the U.S. economy.

Option 4: L-1 Visa to EB-5 Investor Visa

What Happens If Your L-1 Visa Expires While Your Green Card Application Is Pending?

If your L-1 visa expires while your green card application is pending, your situation can become more complicated, but you are not necessarily disqualified.

Generally, while your Adjustment of Status is pending, you are allowed to remain in the United States under a concept known as "authorized stay." This means you can legally stay in the U.S. even after your L-1 visa expires until a decision is made on your green card application.

However, you must not leave the country during this time unless you have obtained advance permission, as departing without it could result in the abandonment of your application. It's crucial to maintain lawful status by adhering to all visa conditions, so follow the guidance of your immigration attorney to navigate this period smoothly.

Transform Your L-1 Visa Into Permanent Residency — Get Started with SimVisa!

Your journey from an L-1 visa to a green card is a testament to your dedication and your contributions to your profession and community.

At SimVisa, we understand the significance of this transition and will assist you in making it smooth and successful. Our immigration lawyers combine years of experience with a deep commitment to client satisfaction, handling your immigration needs with care and precision.

Let us partner with you to advocate for your interests and help you achieve your long-term goals in the United States. For personalized guidance and advice on your path to permanent residency, contact us today.

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Do I need to maintain continuous employment with the same employer who sponsored my L-1 Visa while my Green Card application is pending?

Generally, it is advisable to maintain employment with the same employer who sponsored your L-1 visa until the Adjustment of Status application is approved, unless you are eligible to change employers under AC21 regulations.

Can my family members (spouse and children) get Green Cards as well?

Yes — after you become a permanent resident, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can typically apply for green cards.

Is there a quota or limit on the number of Green Cards available for L-1 Visa holders?

There is no specific limit on the number of green cards available to L-1 visa holders who are seeking permanent residence in the U.S. Instead, whether limits or quotas apply will depend on which path you take from your L-1 visa to permanent residency. Employment-based visas, for example, are subject to annual limits.

L-1 Visa to Green Card: Your Path to Permanent Residency
SohYoon Atac
co-founder of SimVisa

Sohyoon is the co-founder of SimVisa. She has over 15 years of immigration specific experience and as an immigrant herself, fully understands the daunting nature of navigating the immigration process.

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