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Should I apply for the E-2 or L-1 Business Visa?

 

Question: I have a business and want to either purchase or buy a business in the U.S. but do not know which one of the visas would be better. The choices that I have been given are the E-2 and the L-1. Can you clarify and/or help me make the decision?

 

Answer: Each visa has its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes the E-2 will be better for somebody, while for another person, the L-1 might be better.   First, you must determine if you are from a country which has a treaty with the United States. Without a treaty, you cannot get the E-2. This would mean that for sure you are required and can only get the L-1.

 

Next, we need to determine if you have a business in your foreign country and whether you have been running the business for at least one year. Without a business, you cannot apply for the L-1 as that is a basic requirement for doing the L-1.

 

Question: How much do I have to invest for each one?

 

Answer: The E-2 generally requires around $75,000 to $100,000 U.S. investment. The L-1 is actually requires much less money. Many L-1’s can do an investment with only $20,000 U.S. Thus, if you do not have the necessary amount of money to invest in the business, then it would be the L-1 that you would apply and not the E-2.

 

Question: Can I just transfer money to my U.S. bank account  and will that be considered an investment?

 

Answer: No. That is just a transfer of money. You can get that money out anytime you want. An investment actually puts the money at risk where you cannot simply withdraw it anytime you like. Thus, if the business you want to begin in the U.S. is one that requires very little investment, or requires only a computer and online work, then the E-2 will not work. It would be better to do the L-1.

 

Question: Speaking of computer work, can I just use a room in my house I will rent there, or the garage for the work?

 

Answer: No. You must have a real ‘brick & mortar’ office. You can certainly rent an inexpensive office that shares the conference room, waiting area and kitchen will other tenants, but you must have a real office in order to have any hope of getting the E-2 or L-1 approved.

 

Question: Where do I file the E-2 or L-1?

 

Answer: The E-2 can be filed directly at the U.S. Consulate. You do not need prior U.S. Immigration approval. Thus, the filing fees, time for approval and review are generally less than with an L-1. The L-1 must get prior U.S. Immigration approval at USCIS. You could file by premium processing with will take much less time, but still it must be filed in the U.S. Once approved, it will be transferred to the Consulate upon which you are going to apply for the actual Visa. Of course, you could also do a change of status to E-2 or L-1 inside the U.S. However, once you leave, you will still need consular approval to re-enter the U.S.

 

 

 

Some information on the E-2

If you are petitioning to get an E-2 Employee, there might only be a 3 month, or 6 month or 1 year limitation. It will depend on the Consulate. Some might even go as far as 5 years.

You might get some visitors from Immigration to make sure the business is real.

Substantive changes must have an amendment filed in order so that you will not be out of status. It must be filed at the California Service Center.

 

E-2 Approved for Smog Station

E-2 approved for investor and spouse based on purchase of smog and auto repair company near San Diego, CA.

E-2 Granted for Dance Studio

E-2 change of status approved in less than 3 month with no request for additional evidence for a young Filipino couple that was gifted about $100,000 to invest in a dance studio.

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