Clarity and Strength in Immigration Law

L-1 Petitions – Frequently Asked Questions for the Employee

1.       I’m in a different immigration status right now. Can I change status in to L-1 without leaving the US?

You may be able to. If you are in J-1 status, you must confirm with your attorney that you are not subject to the two –year home residence requirement. If you are in B-1/B-2 status, you should also work closely with your immigration attorney to make sure that there are no problems filing a change of status.

2.       Can I change employers while I’m in L-1 status?

There is no L-1 transfer like there is for the H-1B. Theoretically, a new employer could file an L-1 petition for you, but you must still meet the L-1 requirements, including having worked for the employer for at least one of the past three years.

3.       What if I want to extend my L-1 status, but I don’t have pay stubs?

Generally when you file an L-1 extension petition, you must include a copy of recent pay stubs to show that you have maintained valid L-1 status. If you do not have pay stubs (because you haven’t been working or for some other reason), you may still be able to file the petition.  However, USCIS may approve the petition without the I-94 card. In that case, you may need to leave the US, have the L-1 visa stamped if you do not already have a valid L-1 visa in your passport (unless you are visa-exempt), and then re-enter the US to obtain a new I-94 card. Please speak with your immigration attorney in more detail if you are in this situation.

4.       Can I travel while the change of status is pending?

If you travel while the change of status is pending (remember, a change of status is when you are applying to change from some other immigration status to L-1, in this case), your change of status request will be considered abandoned and denied. The petition itself would still be approved, assuming it is otherwise approvable. However, you would need to have the L-1 petition approved, and the L-1 visa stamped before you re-enter the US in L-1 status.  Please speak with your attorney prior to traveling!

5.       Can I travel while the extension of status is pending?

In all cases, you must check with your immigration attorney before traveling outside the US as there may be special circumstances affecting your case.

Generally speaking:

If your current petition will expire while  you are outside the US, you must wait for the extension petition to be approved, and then have the new L-1 visa stamped before you re-enter the US.

If your current petition will still be valid when you re-enter the US, and if you still have a valid L-1 visa, you can re-enter the US (be sure to travel with a copy of the extension petition receipt notice).

If your current petition will still be valid when you re-enter the US, but you need to have your visa stamped while you are outside the US, note that your visa will be stamped with validity end date that matches your current status.