After H1-B, L-1 Visa Holders To Face Difficulties Amid Pandemic

The Trump administration is once again mulling suspension of non-immigration visas, not just the H1B but L1 as well. This is a challenge most L-1 visa workers are facing in the US, reports Moneycontrol.

With increasing denials and layoffs, L-1 visa holders are in the line of fire with limited available options.

What is L-1 Visa?

L-1 is a non-immigrant visa for intra-company transfers for candidates who are already working for the company that intends to open or expand operations in the US. It could also be the US parent company that wants one of its employees working in its subsidiary to work in the US.

These visas are reserved for experienced professionals such as managers and executives (L-1A) and those with specialised knowledge in the company’s processes (L-1B).

Indian firms continue to be the largest beneficiaries of L-1 visa accounting for 23 per cent of total visas issued followed by the United Kingdom. For instance, companies like TCS, Infosys and Tech Mahindra, are the largest users of this visa.

Unlike H-1B, the intra-company transfer visa does not have cap issues. This allows companies to file for L-1 visa for those employees who would be working at their US units, experts told Moneycontrol. An immigration attorney pointed out that some companies used L-1 in place of H-1B given the complex and long-drawn process the latter involves.

However, the rate of denials and request for evidence has increased under the Trump administration leading to L-1 visa rejections. According to a research report by the US-based immigration think tank CATO.org, between 2016 and 2019, rejection share of L-1 increased from 25 per cent to 34 per cent.

Recent layoffs due to the pandemic have only added to the troubles of the working population. Unlike H-1B visa holders, these employees cannot seek employment in another firm once laid off and have no option but to return home, especially in the case of Indians. (Canadian and Mexican nationals can move to TN visa that allows them to work in the US).

The visa rejection would also impact IT firms in delivering projects on time as it would be challenging to find replacements for L-1 visa resources who are specialised in particular fields. This would also force companies to look at other operating models apart from the onsite-offshore mix. As a result, most IT firms now have close to 60 per cent of their workforce in the US as locals.