A frequent question that arises in my processing of L-1 visa and permanent residency, green card, applications is whether L-1 applicants can obtain a Green Card. The answer is yes, L-1 foreign nationals who are managers and executives under the L-1 program are eligible for the “priority workers” Employment Based Green Card category, also known as the EB-1 process. Foreign citizens falling into this category may apply for permanent residency without having to go through the arduous labor certification process required with most other employment based green card applications.
Labor certification is a long and difficult procedure requiring the employer to prove that there are no qualified US workers to fill the foreign national’s position. The procedure is complicated and expensive and there is no guarantee it will eventually lead to a Green Card. Additional difficulties that often arise in Green Card cases that require the labor certification process are often backlogged and end up taking several years to process.
These potential problems are greatly minimized under the EB-1 category under which L-1 visa holders, as well as some others, can apply. First of all there is no labor certification required and secondly as the number of EB-1 priority worker visas available usually exceeds the demand the visa backlog is not an issue. This means that the Green Card process in these cases can normally be completed within roughly year in some cases as opposed to several years as is the case in most other Green Card categories.
Additionally, the L-1 visa is a ‘dual intent’ visa meaning that it is allowable for an L-1 visa holder to apply for a Green Card while in the U.S. maintaining valid L-1 visa status. Not all visas allow for this and therefore it is a major benefit of the L-1 visa.