The Difference between an L1 Visa and an H1B Visa

US work visas are often sought after by those wishing to explore jobs and life in the United States. The L1 and H1B visas are popular non immigrant visas that allow applicants to live and work in the US for a certain period of time. We will be explaining the difference between an L1 visa and an H1B visa in this article

The Difference between an L1 visa and an H1B Visa
The Difference between an L1 visa and an H1B Visa

The L1 visa is meant for those who want to transfer from a foreign branch of a company to the US branch, parent or subsidiary. The H1B visa is meant for those who wish to work for a company in the US. The L1 visa therefore is meant for someone transferring within a multinational company (to the US location) whereas the H1B visa is valid for work with any American employer. Since all American employers do not have foreign branches, the L1 visa cannot be used for such companies. 

In this article we will talk about the following:

  • What is an L1 visa (L1A and L1B)
  • What is the difference between the L1A and L1B visas
  • What is an H1B visa

The  L1 and H1B Visa Differences in the following categories:

  1. Aim
  2. Eligibility 
  3. Wages
  4. Spouse
  5. Department of Labor Approval 
  6. Blanket Petition 
  7. Education
  8. Validity
  9. H1B vs L1 for Green Card

The Differences between an L1 Visa and an H1B Visa

The L1 visa is a temporary visa that enables workers of a company outside the U.S. to transfer to their U.S. office for a certain period. 

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services the L1A and L1B visas may be issued when an employer files a petition to obtain authorization for qualified employees to be allowed to work and live in the United States.

L1A Visa 

The L1A visa is for intracompany transferees who work in managerial or executive positions in a company that is located outside the United States.

L1B Visa

L1B VisaThe L1B visa is for intracompany transferees who work in positions requiring specialized knowledge.

The difference between the L1A and L1B visa 

The L1A visa is meant for managers and executives whereas the L1B visa is meant for people with specialized knowledge. 

You can find out more about the L1 visa in our article entitled What you need to know about the L1 visa.

The H1B visa

The H1B visa is an employment-based nonimmigrant visa issued to foreign nationals who wish to work in a specialty occupation in the United State of America for a specified period. Unlike other visas, it is an employer-sponsored visa i.e. for this visa an employer must offer a job to the visa holder and apply for his/her visa petition with the US Immigration Department under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In order the learn more about the H1B visa please refer to the following articles:

Frequently Asked H1B Visa Interview Questions to Indians

H1B Visa Extension: Process, Options & Fees

H1B Visa Fees for Indians

The Difference between the L1 and the H1B Visa

1. Aim 

The L1 Visa is for people already working for a foreign branch of a U.S based company or planning to open a U.S branch of a foreign based company. H1B visas are for those who are planning to work for a US based company or organization.

2. Eligibility

The L1 visa requires that the company in a foreign branch is willing to sponsor the applicant. All employers do not have branches in foreign countries , so an L1 visa may not be applicable in such cases. The H1B visa requires that the U.S based company be willing to sponsor the applicant. 

The L1 visa also requires that the applicant must have been working for the employer for at least 1 year as a manager, executive, or doing some type of work requiring specialized knowledge.

3. Wages

In an H1B visa the candidate must be paid the prevailing wage of the area they are planning to work. This is not the case for an L1 visa because the L1 visa holder is working on behalf of a foreign operation. 

4. Spouse

The spouse of an L1 holder can accompany them and apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) if they hold an L2 visa. An EAD allows non-US citizens to work temporarily. The spouse of an H1B holder can apply for an EAD. 

5. Department of Labor Approval 

The H1B visa requires the approval of the US Department of Labor to verify that there are no qualified workers available for the job within the US. The L1 visa does not need to meet this requirement and does not require the approval of the Department of Labor.

6. Blanket Petition 

The L1 visa process allows for blanket petitions. If a blanket petition is approved then the USCIS does not need to process each individual application. This makes the process easier and faster. The H1B visa does not allow for blanket petitions. 

7. Education 

The L1 visa has no educational requirement. The H1B visa requires a bachelor’s degree (or a foreign equivalent). The work for an H1B visa must require a bachelor’s degree.

8. Validity 

The L1A visa has a maximum validity of 7 years . The L1B visa is valid for 5 years. The H1B visa has a maximum validity for 6 years. 

9. H1B vs L1 for Green Card 

With both the L1 and H1B visas, candidates can apply for permanent resident status in the US through a green card, if they wish to do so. The process for each visa type differs. The L1 visa to Green Card process differs for the L1A visa and L1B visa. 


An L1A visa holder does not need to file the PERM labor certification. They can instead file for a green card in the EB1C visa category. This makes the processing time of the green card much faster. Many applicants of an L1A visa receive their green card within one year of filing.

H1B and L1B

An H1B visa candidate needs a PERM Labor Certification approval to receive a green card. This same process applies to an L1B visa holder as well.

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How long are the L1 AND H1B visas valid for ?

The L1A visa has a maximum validity for 7 years. The L1B visa has a validity of 5 years. The H1B has a maximum validity of 6 years.

Can one apply for permanent residence status in the U.S through a green card on both the L1 and H1B visas?

Yes, but the process differs for both.

Is a blanket petition possible on the H1B visa ?

No, a blanket petition is not possible for the H1B visa.

What is the educational requirement for the L1 visa and the H1B visa ?

The L1 visa does not have an educational requirement and the H1B requires a bachelor’s degree

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