H1b Visa vs. L1 Visa: What's the difference?

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Difference between H1b Visa and L1 Visa

For many people, a visa is a visa, and the different types that are in existence serve an arcane purpose that has little to no bearing on the real world. However, the fact of the matter is that the array of different visas do have specific purposes, and you would be well advised to learn what they are in order to avoid any potential difficulties. This comparison article should clue you in to the more significant attributes of each type of visa.

H1b Visa
L1 Visa

In Brief

The H1b visa has traditionally been the visa of choice for U.S. employers who wished to bring in specialty employees to work in the country temporarily. With the drastic lowering of the H1b visa cap in October 2003 however, many U.S. employers have sought out alternative visa options. One of the solutions that have proven feasible is the L1 visa, which was originally intended to allow companies with international operations to bring in personnel to the U.S. temporarily, regardless of whether or not their job is actually temporary in nature.

In Use

Both types of visas fall under the category of non-immigrant business visas, and they are intended for individuals that have skills beyond those of the so-called “unskilled workers”. In addition, both visas also function as a “dual intent” document, in that a person can use them in order to enter the United States as a non-immigrant, even though he has already filed an application for permanent residency in the country. Both the H1b visa and the L1 visa also have application processes that can be greatly sped up by payment of an additional fee. This makes these visas ideal for employers who wish to bring in crucial personnel quickly.


Both visas do have their own sets of requirements. For instance, only an individual that works as a specialist, and has a Bachelor’s degree in his chosen field can use the H1b visa. In addition, the position that the potential employee will assume has to be one in which a Bachelor’s degree is required.

The L1 visa has less stringent degree requirements, and it requires only that the beneficiary have the necessary skills and/or knowledge to fulfill the roles of the position that he is applying for. In fact, an applicant without a degree may even be granted an L1 visa, provided that he possesses the requisite skills for the job. On the other hand, an L1 visa also requires that the applicant has worked in the same company for one full year within the past three years.


H1b Visa

  • Has been the visa of choice for employers who wish to bring in employees to work in the U.S. temporarily
  • Application process can be sped up by payment of an additional fee

L1 Visa

  • Originally intended to allow companies with international operations to bring in personnel to the U.S. temporarily
  • Ideal for employers who wish to bring in crucial personnel quickly

Which visa is easier to get?
  • H1b Visa
  • L1 Visa

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • PL wrote on November 2010

I'm a graduate in IT (BScIT) with 4 years of work experience. Please let me know if I'm eligible for filing L1B visa based on my degree and work experience.

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