The L Visa applies to foreign workers who are employed by a company with a branch, subsidiary or affiliate in the U.S. These workers come to the U.S. as intra-company transferees who are coming temporarily to perform work in either:

  • a managerial or executive capacity, or
  • a position that requires specialized knowledge.

To qualify, the employee must have been employed abroad on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year of the last three years.  There is currently no annual cap on L-1 visas and the visa is issued for 3 years.  In cases where the foreign entity opens a new branch, subsidiary or affiliate in the US, the L Visa is only issued for one year and must be extended thereafter.  There is a 7-year maximum for managerial or executive workers and a 5-year maximum for foreign workers with specialized knowledge.

An L Visa allows dual-intent.  An L Visa holder can therefore pursue permanent residency without jeopardizing the ability to file for an extension of the L status.

E visa

The E Visa category is only available to those who are nationals of countries that have a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation or a Bilateral Investment Treaty with the US (for a full list please click here).  The Treaty Trader Visa (E-1) is based on substantial trade between the US and the country of nationality.  The Treaty Investor Visa (E-2) is based on a substantial investment in an ongoing, operating enterprise.  Some countries have either E-1 or E-2 Treaties, but not both.  Essential employees from the treaty countries are also eligible for E Visa status.  Those who hold an E Visa may stay in the U.S. for as long as they maintain their position with the enterprise.

EB-5 Visa Program

The EB-5 visa program allows entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and who plan to create or preserve ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers to apply for a green card (permanent residence). By investing in certain qualified investments or regional centers with high unemployment rates, the required investment amount can be as low as $500,000.