L-1 Visas Offer Some Companies an H-1B Alternative

Ann All

Based on last year's experience, in which the cap for H-1B visas was exceeded on the first day it began accepting applications for them, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is probably dreading tomorrow's beginning of this year's lottery.


There will be plenty of unhappy companies that don't get the coveted visas. Making a bad problem even worse, the Los Angeles Times reports that some companies file multiple applications for each potential employee to improve their odds of getting a document. Having received at least 500 duplicate applications in 2007, the immigration department has since closed that loophole.


Intel, one of the biggest U.S. recipients of H-1Bs, expects to submit about 400 applications, roughly the same as last year. Though most of its applicants received visas in the last lottery, there is no guarantee that will happen this time, the company's director of workforce policy tells the Times. She says:

We could get all or none.

That kind of uncertainty keeps some companies, primarily SMBs, from participating in the lottery. SMBs don't have the kind of hiring alternatives as Microsoft, which last year opened a software development facility in Canada, at least partly to address its difficulties in recruiting and hiring non-U.S. natives.


An option pursued by some companies, reports eWEEK, is the L-1 visa. Although it can be used only by employees with managerial or certain other specialized skills, there is no annual cap or requirement that employees be paid a prevailing wage for their work. (The latter rule has occasionally been an issue for companies with H-1B employees. India's Patni Computer Systems last June was ordered to pay $2.4 million in back wages to visa holders.)


Says the CEO of VISANOW, an online immigration processing company:

... I've heard of situations where an H-1B visa holder might be paid $42,000 for a job, but the L-1 visa [holder] only making $12,000."

Like the H-1B visa, most of the biggest recipients of the L-1 are Indian outsourcing specialists, including Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Technologies, Satyam, Wipro Technologies, Hindustan Computers and Patni Computer Systems. An exception was IBM, which was awarded 1,237 L-1 visas in fiscal 2006. Other U.S. companies that received a notable number of the visas were Intel (394), HP (316), Oracle (176) and Microsoft (169).


Unlike the H-1B visa, which has spawned numerous legislative proposals, the L-1 appears to have largely escaped the attention of U.S. lawmakers, according to eWEEK.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 1, 2008 8:55 AM RK RK  says:
The L1 visa is not an alternative to H1B. L1 has lot of restrictions and a company to file L1s has to be in the business for atleast 5 years at both USA & the other country. The employee should have worked in the other country for atleast 2 years and it is only inter company transfer. He/she cannot work on any project like H1B holder. He can only work on the specified assignment/project of that company. Reply
Apr 7, 2008 9:56 AM John John  says:
Now why exactly should someone undertake a course of study knowing that you'll never get hired at a first world rate with H-1 Visas allowed?Somewhere along the line the USA has got to get its priorities straight. It is not our responsibility to train and employ the rest of the world.The bottom line is free trade must work in both directions and be advantageous for all, not just employers looking for a cheap way out. Reply
Aug 28, 2009 12:23 PM debug debug  says:

So what is wrong about hiring a local person (American Citizen or Permanent Resident).  There are millions of Americans unemployed.  If you love them so much why don't you write from India.

Obama is too busy worrying about this stupid health care B.S and not working on the Economy. its a sad day that 40 to 50 people will loose their jobs. Yes Obama and Nancy are running this country into the ground. it's only going to get worse... I work in the IT industry so I know about outsourcing. At work my friends wife (is a manager at some company) had a help desk job open. She gets about 600 resumes a day. She hired a guy that has a master degree for $10.00 hr.

your are right about our government...... They suck...

Aug 31, 2009 7:02 PM Raj Raj  says: in response to debug

I agree with you debug-  100%.

Say NO to H1-B visa

My background is an Indian but I was born and went to school here in USA. All most all of H1-B visas are obtained by fraud. I know that for fact, because so many of them told me so. Most of them take a week of crush courses and they become expert.

This H1-B visa also have other problem beside taking job away from qualified American. Most of these candidate stay back and bringing there family to USA. They bring there elderly parents who do not have health insurance and they wide up in the emergency room for healthcare needs.

The other problem is that these people do not pay much tax or spend there money in USA. They live very very cheap and save all the money and send to India. So these people are not contributing to USA economy at all.

In order to reduce H1-B visa, IT Company's should stop working with Indian owned IT Recruiting company. Almost all of the Indian owned IT recruiting company are involve in this fraud.

We need raise this points to USA media and government to show how our qualified America are without job and these frauds are taking the job away from us.

I will repeat:  As long as there is ONE qualified American without a job, there should be NO NO NO H-1B visas at all.

Sep 1, 2009 6:18 PM Majik Majik  says: in response to Raj

As long a MS HP IBM and Dell are pouring money into K street lobbyists you guys are all pissing up a rope. Obama is worried about health care because he has 60 votes in the Senate and he can actually do something about it. 

Nobody can buck MS, HP,  Dell and Intel. They would exploit cheap labor until pigs flew and water ran uphill if they could.  Moaning about capitalists exploiting workers is like trying to roll back the tide.  To hell with them. They will cannibalize each other disappear like General Motors soon enough.  They never learn, and they always go down wondering what happened while they were partying in the sleeper car on the gravy train.

Can you say "Dinosaur"?


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