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  Frequently Asked Questions  
What limits are there on the amount of time an individual in H-1B or L-1 Status may remain in the U.S?

As a basic matter, the amount of time an individual may remain in the U.S. is determined by the date shown on the I-94 card, which is the small card stapled in the passport when one enters the U.S. or the bottom section of a Form I-797 approval notice subsequently issued by the USCIS.

There are also limits imposed on the total length of time one may remain in the U.S. in a particular status.

An individual in H-1B status has a cap, or ceiling, of six years that he/she may remain in the U.S in this classification. Only three years are approved at a time. Thus, often one secures approvals for two three-year periods. If one has spent the full six years in the U.S. in H-1B status, and then spends one full year outside the U.S., he/she is eligible for another six years of this classification. There is also an important exception to the six-year H-1B limit: If the initial papers to start the permanent residence process have been filed at least one year before the six years is reached, then extensions may be granted one year at a time while the permanent residence process remains pending. If an I-140 (immigrant petition) has been approved for the individual, then three-year extensions are possible.

An individual in L-1B status (specialized knowledge) may remain in the U.S. for a total of five years, with an initial three years and then a two-year extension. An individual in L-1A status (manager or executive) may remain in the U.S. a total of seven years, with an initial three years and two two-year extensions. Where a person in L-1B status is subsequently transferred to a management position, it is possible to file an amended petition to change the personís classification to L-1A, thus making it possible to remain seven years. This should be done when the change occurs, and cannot be done when the L-1B person has six months or less remaining on his allotted five years.

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