Oct 2

E-2 and L-1A VISA FAQs

E-2 and L-1A VISA  FAQs

Talking Points Regarding the differences Between the E-2 Visa and the L-1A Visa

Can I continue to work during my pending E-2 Extension of status?

Regulations provide an automatic 240-day extension of employment authorization for an A-3, E-1, E-2, G-5, H-1A, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1, and R Non-immigrant whose status has expired but who has timely filed an application for extension of his or her respective status.  Timely filed means that the Applicant has been issued a Receipt Notice from USCIS with a file date earlier than the expiration of status date on the I-94.  If the application for extension has not been adjudicated at the end of 240 days, specific authorization for continued employment must be requested from the INS on Form I-765.  8 CFR 274a.12(b)(15); 274a.12(b)(19).

Should I apply for an E-2 Visa or L-1A visa?  What are the differences?

  • Cost of initial investment for L and E visa.

E-2 Visas:   Usually requires an investment that is greater than $100,000.

L-1 Visas:   No initial investment requirement is set forth in the regulations.  However, the costs of establishing a subsidiary office may be less.  The office must actually have employees on payroll and the business must be real and active.  Also, it depends on the type of business.  For example, a consulting based business is different than a newspaper business or computer supply business.

  • Operational Costs

For the E-2, the company must prove that it is a “real and operating” enterprise.  For an existing business, the applicant would need evidence of current costs of operations such as contracts for services, bank account statements, tax returns, etc.  For a new business, the applicant needs a business plan showing financial projections, projected profit and loss, projection of start up costs, future contracts, chamber of commerce statistics, etc.

The L-1A also requires a real and operational business with systematic employment of U.S. workers.  If no workers are employed, there would not be anyone for the L-1A Executive or Manager to supervise.

When the primary applicant gets the E-2 or L-1 visa, what kind of visa will his spouse receive?

If approved for an E-2 visa, a spouse will get an E-2 visa and may apply for work authorization.

If approved for an L-1A, the spouse will receive an L-2 and may apply for work authorization.

Which visa is best, L-1 or E-2?

It depends on what business he/she will establish.  Usually E-2 visas are filed more frequently if the business is new and only has a business plan for hiring employees.  However, L-1A Managers may file for a Green Card.  The Applicant would need to show that he/she is actually an Executive or Manager.

The L-1A Visa Holder CANNOT BE INVOLVED IN REGULAR OPERATIONS AND MUST SUPERVISE PROFESSIONAL WORKERS SUCH AS WORKERS WITH A BACHELOR LEVEL EDUCATION. THE GOVERNMENT USUALLY QUESTIONS SMALL COMPANIES AND THE APPLICANT SHOULD NOT BE THE PERSON PROVIDING THE GOODS OR SERVICES. HE OR SHE MUST FILL A SENIOR LEVEL POSITION WITHIN THE COMPANY.

What do I need to do to maintain the E-2 or L-1A visa?  How much yearly net profit?

E-2 Visas:  The profit must be higher than the costs of living for the investor and his family.  The Government does not want a “marginal” business in place that does not generate enough income for anyone other than the investor and his family.  So this amount must be greater than the costs of living for the investor’s family size.  For example, the median family income in Honolulu is about $64,000 a year.  The business should generate an amount greater than 64,000 to make a persuasive case for renewal.  Lesser amounts have been shown in different areas and in different businesses and economic conditions.  Learn more about how to get your E2 Visa.

L-1A Visas:  No set amount although evidence of regular and systematic business and salary to employees must be proved.

How long will it take to get either an L-1A or E-2 visa?

It depends on type of visa and whether it is a start up or existing visa.

E-2 Visas:  Based on current processing times, an existing business can take 1-3 months start to finish with premium processing and a start up company could be 3-5 months.

L-1A Visas:  2-5 months for a new business with premium processing.

For an overview of each Visa, please read: