Comparing the Differences Between and L-1 and E-2 Visa

Are you a high-skilled worker exploring temporary work visa opportunities to enter the United States? The L-1 or E-2 visa might be a suitable choice for you.

The L-1 Visa in a Nutshell

The L-1 visa is a temporary visa designed to particularly transfer overseas workers to a U.S branch of a company when it needs a high-level employee to offer similar expertise in the U.S. to grow the company or inaugurate a new business. There are two L-1 visa classifications:

  • L-1A, designed for executives or managers and
  • L-1B, which is for employees with specialized knowledge

L-1 visa beneficiaries must have the executive potential, meaning that they can make a lot of important decisions for the company without a great amount of oversight or managerial capacity, meaning that they supervise other employees and manage a specific part of the company or all of it. L-1 B visa holders must have a specialized set of knowledge that is vital to running the company, such as expertise in the product, service, organizational structure, management, financial information or other areas.

A Summary of the E-2 Visa

An E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a temporary, non-immigrant employment visa designed for entrepreneurs from select countries hoping to grow their business in the U.S. Individuals traveling from countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S can acquire an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa to conduct investment and trade in the U.S. Being that the visa is designed for entrepreneurs specifically, a large amount of the capital invested must be related to either buying or establishing a business for the visa.

Some Resemblance Between an L-1 and E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The key similarity between each visa is that they are both non-immigrant, temporary work visas for people of a similar caliber of skill. Both visas only last for a short period of time and do not lead directly to a U.S. green card like the EB category.

Both visas share some benefits, such as authorizing the visa holder to work, allowing spouses of the visa holder to apply for work authorization, and permitting for visa holders to transition to the EB category after some time to obtain a U.S. green card.

Another benefit of both visas is that new and existing businesses can petition to bring workers over into the country on either visa if all business requirements are met.

Differences Between an L-1 and E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

An important difference between the L-1 and E-2 visa categories is that they have different priorities. The L-1 visa prioritizes bringing people who work in a managerial and executive capacity, or have specialized knowledge from a foreign to a U.S. branch of the same company. On the other hand, the E-2 visa is meant to attract people who want to make a substantial investment in a U.S. enterprise or set up a U.S. business venture.

The E-2 visa has limitations based on nationality and it is only accessible to people from countries that the U.S. has an E-2 treaty with. The L-1 visa does not have any nationality-based restrictions.

Validity of each visa also differs. For example: the initial stay for an L-1 visa is one year for a new office and three years for an existing office with options to extend both. The E-2 visa has varying validity periods depending on the country that the visa holder comes from. Most E-2 visas have a one to five year validity time frame depending on the country and can be renewed an unlimited number of times.

Retain the Services of an Immigration Attorney

If you are planning on pursuing any of the above visas mentioned and you would like to learn more about the L-1 and E-2 visas call Gambacorta Law Office at 847 443 9303 for an appointment. We will gladly help you weigh out your options to obtain the visa that best fits your business needs and goals.