Can Companies Change Their L1 Visa to an H1B?

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As a company, you may have employees who are currently working in the United States on an L1 visa and are looking to transition to an H1B visa. This can be a complex process, but it is important to understand the steps involved and how to support your employees through this transition.

In this guide, we will discuss the process of transitioning from an L1 to an H1B visa and provide tips for companies to support their employees during this transition.

Understanding the L1 and H1B Visas

Before we dive into the process of transitioning from an L1 to an H1B visa, let’s first understand the differences between these two types of visas.

L1 Visa

The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies to transfer employees from their foreign offices to their offices in the United States. This visa is typically used for managerial or executive-level employees, as well as employees with specialized knowledge.

H1B Visa

The H1B visa is also a non-immigrant visa, but it is specifically for foreign workers in speciality occupations. This includes jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific field of study.

The Process of Transitioning from L1 to H1B Visa

The process of transitioning from an L1 to an H1B visa can be broken down into three main steps: obtaining a Labor Condition Application (LCA), filing the H1B petition, and obtaining approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step 1: Obtaining a Labor Condition Application (LCA)

Before an H1B petition can be filed, the company must first obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL). This application verifies that the company will pay the H1B employee the prevailing wage for their position and that the employment of the H1B worker will not negatively affect the working conditions of U.S. workers.

The LCA must be filed at least 7 days before the H1B petition is submitted to the USCIS. The processing time for an LCA is typically 7 days, but it can take longer if the DOL needs to request additional information.

Step 2: Filing the H1B Petition

Once the LCA has been approved, the company can file the H1B petition with the USCIS. This petition must include the following documents:

The H1B petition must be filed during the designated filing period, which typically begins on April 1st of each year. The USCIS will then review the petition and make a decision on whether to approve or deny it.

Step 3: Obtaining Approval from the USCIS

If the H1B petition is approved, the H1B employee can begin working for the company on October 1st of that year. This is the start date of the H1B visa, and the employee must have their visa stamped at a U.S. consulate before they can enter the country.

If the H1B petition is denied, the employee will need to leave the United States and return to their home country. The company can then refile the petition in the following year’s filing period.

Tips for Companies to Support Employees During the Transition

Transitioning from an L1 to an H1B visa can be a stressful and uncertain time for employees. As a company, there are several ways you can support your employees during this transition.

Provide Clear Communication and Support

The visa application process can be confusing and overwhelming for employees, especially if they are not familiar with the process. As a company, it is important to provide clear communication and support to your employees throughout the process.

This can include providing them with a timeline of the process, answering any questions they may have, and offering resources or assistance with the application process.

Offer Financial Support

The transition from an L1 to an H1B visa can also be financially burdensome for employees. They may need to pay for visa application fees, travel expenses, and potentially legal fees. As a company, you can offer financial support to help alleviate some of these costs for your employees.

Provide Resources for Family Sponsorship Letters

One of the requirements for an H1B visa is a family sponsorship letter, which is a letter from the employee’s family member or friend stating that they will provide financial support for the employee if needed. As a company, you can provide resources or templates for these letters to make the process easier for your employees.

Be Understanding and Flexible

The visa application process can be unpredictable, and there may be delays or complications that are out of your employee’s control. As a company, it is important to be understanding and flexible during this time. This can include offering remote work options or extending deadlines if needed.

Real-World Example: Transitioning from L1 to H1B Visa at Google

Google is known for its employee-friendly policies, and this extends to their support for employees transitioning from an L1 to an H1B visa.

Google offers financial support for visa application fees and legal fees, as well as resources for family sponsorship letters. They also provide clear communication and support throughout the process, including offering remote work options if needed.


Transitioning from an L1 to an H1B visa can be a complex process, but with the right support and resources, it can be a smooth transition for both the company and the employee. By understanding the process and providing support to your employees, you can help them achieve their career goals and contribute to the success of your company.

Find an Immigration Lawyer in Australia

Global Immigration Partners PLLC in Australia
Level 2, 215-219, George Street, Liverpool
New South Wales, Sydney 2170 Australia
+61 (02) 9099 1613


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