I am already in the U.S. under a different type of visa. Can I switch from a visitor, student or H-1 work visa to an L-1 visa from here, or do I have to leave the country?

 

There are many reasons you may wish to switch your visa classification. Perhaps you have been promoted within your company and qualify for an L-1 visa based on your expert knowledge. Additionally, the L-1 visa can be transitioned into a green card, while the H-1 visa does not have an immigration option.

The short answer is that you can indeed file for a change in visa status without leaving the country. However, you will not physically receive a new visa until you have left and reentered the U.S., since the document is provided by a U.S. consulate upon reentry.

Steps for Switching From an H-1 to an L-1 Visa if You Are Already in the United States:

  • File a change of status request. USCIS requires that all non-immigrant visa holders file Form I-539 (Application to Extend / Change Nonimmigrant Status) to request an L-1 Visa.
  • If your application is approved, you will receive a notification from USCIS that your status has changed and you may stay in the U.S. under your new visa L visa status.
  • You will not receive your new L-1 visa until you reenter the United States. If you obtains a change of status, and later travel abroad, you must then go to the consulate of the foreign country to have your new visa issued to you.

Before you can successfully switch from an H-1 visa to an L-1 visa, you will need to determine if you meet the qualifications of the L-1 employment category. Our free book, The Business Owner’s Guide to United States Residency Via the L-1 Visa, explains the practice and pitfalls of applying for an L-1 visa. Click the link on this page to begin reading, or call San Francisco immigration attorney Vaughan de Kirby today at 415-221-2345 for more information.

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