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Sanwar Ali US L1 Visa Update April 2019

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By Sanwar Ali

L1 visas are in many cases the only work visa option to transfer staff to the US.  For many companies obtaining each L1 visa is a huge effort.  Indian and Chinese nationals cannot apply for an E2 visa.  Therefore the L1 visa or H1B visa may be the only option in many cases. 

Obtaining a L1 visa and H1B visa more difficult for Indians and others

National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) has reported in the past that there are high refusal rates for the L1 visa in FY 2018.  Compared with FY 2016, the refusal rate for L1B visa petitions in FY 2018 increased by 24%.

According to US immigration experts, the rise in Requests for Further Evidence RFEs and denial rates across the H1B and L1 visa programmes are ‘not surprising.’ One commentator said: “Once a number of key officials, most of whom are anti-immigration, we’re employed across Trump’s administration, what we’re seeing comes as no surprise.”

Canadian nationals also finding it more difficult to obtain an L1 visa.

Under NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement it should be easier for Canadians to obtain an L1 visa.  For many years Canadian nationals have been able to apply for L1 visas at the border so avoiding the complex bureaucratic process that most companies have to endure at the USCIS.  The USCIS has become more involved with cases now.  It seems that Canadian nationals applying at ports-of-entry (POEs) are having difficulties in obtaining new L1 visas in some circumstances.  This seems to be affecting Canadian applicants who have already had an L1 visa. 

Lengthy processing times for L1 visa

Most employers pay an extra sum of US$1410 for premium processing of L1 visas for fifteen day processing. However, in practice it takes considerably longer than this.  Putting together a large bundle of documents in duplicate takes up some time. Then after fifteen days of processing there is frequently a Request for Further Evidence.  It can then take a considerable amount of time to respond to the RFE.  Processing times for an L1 visa can take some months in practice.

L1 visa one of the best ways to gain a Green Card for Managers and Executives

It can takes years and is usually very difficult to gain an employment based immigrant visa.  Managers and Executives on an L1A visa meet many of the requirements for an EB1C immigrant visa.   It remains one of the best ways to obtain a “Green Card”.  Therefore, despite the difficulties this is another reason why the L1 visa remains popular.

Further US Visa information, help, and advice

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visas, E1 and E2 visas, B1 in lieu of H1B visas and H1B visas - can help.’s team of specialists has over 30 years of experience in immigration services, helping thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a US qualified lawyer that are typically members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at