L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

The L-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign company transfer workers that are in managerial or executive position or have specialized knowledge in the foreign company to be able to work in a branch office located in the United States.

This allows small foreign companies to be able to provide their services in the United States.

The L-1 Visa was initially designed for large multinational companies to transfer workers to U.S., however, it allows small or start-up companies abroad to expand their business and services to the U.S. It also allows existing companies anywhere in the world (other than Iran and North Korea) to have a Subsidiary, or “Sister” Company in the U.S., which have a history of existence, pays taxes, and have employees.

Sample of recent approvals after Travel Ban (PP9645)

Side by side comparison of investment options in U.S.

 E-2L-1EB-5 (Regional Center)EB-5 (Direct)
Investment Amount (USD)Any amount
but enough to buy
or create a business
No minimum.
Any amount required for the business
$900,000 at TEA zone
$1.8 million outside TEA
$900,000 at TEA zone
$1.8
million outside TEA
Gifted InvestmentYesYesYesYes
Borrowed Investment (Loan)Yes (certain rules apply)Yes (certain rules apply)Yes (certain rules apply)Yes (certain rules apply)
Investment LocationAnyAnyTEA (Targeted Employment Areas) or outside TEATEA (Targeted Employment Areas) or outside TEA
Job Creation RequirementsNot required. However, investor must
follow the Business Plan closely
Yes. Investor
must follow the Business Plan closely
10 direct or indirect jobs10 direct jobs
Investor’s RoleInvestor has the option to hire a manager.
Otherwise must be involved in day to day operations
Management/ Executive/ Key EmployeeNo active role requirementInvestor has the option to hire a manager.
Otherwise must be involved in day to day operations
Option to purchase an existing companyYesYesN/AYes, must add 10 full-time jobs
Investor’s Overseas Employment RequiredPrefer to haveYes, 1 year out of the last 3-yearsNoPrefer to have
Country (Passport Specific)Yes. Must be from a Treaty CountryAny (if foreign business is
in certain countries like Iran there are restrictions)
All countries qualifyAll countries qualify
Required to have company outside United StatesNoYesNoNo
Timeline**Usually 2-4 months4-6 months.
Expedited, 15 business
days is available
Avg. 2-Years
Nationality Specific
Avg. 2-Years
Nationality Specific
U.S. Green Card (LPR)May convert to EB-5
only if investment grows. May also qualify under EB-1C
Managers & Directors
may qualify for LPR
after 1-yr of entry under EB-1C
Yes, upon entryYes, upon entry
Fast TrackNoYes (optional)NoNo
1st Visa Issuance2-years (most nationals)Depends on the type of L-1
(consult U.S. lawyer)
Starts with 2-years conditional LPRStarts with 2-years conditional LPR
Maximum LengthRenewable as long as the business is running.
Children over 21 do not qualify for renewal
5- 7 years (consult U.S. lawyer).
Children over 21 do not qualify for renewal
Permanent, upon approved I-829Permanent, upon approved I-829
Who is considered Investor’s Family (Derivative)Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21Spouse & Unmarried Children under 21
Can Your Derivative work?YesYesYesYes
Can Your Derivative Attend School/University?YesYesYesYes
Employment for investorImmediately upon entryImmediately upon entryImmediately upon entryImmediately upon entry
*TEA: Targeted Employment Area refers to “rural area” or an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate.
**Average processing time from the receipt dates . Subject to change without any notification.
***This is proprietary information and subject to change and should not be considered as legal advice. It provides a very general outlook in the scope of work.

The Pros of L-1 Visa

  1. It allows for many L-1 Visa holders to eventually apply for Green Card;
  2. Although full-time work is required, the individual does not need to spend all their time in the U.S. and have flexibility to work in both the U.S. and the foreign branch;
  3. The L-1 Visa works well for Executives, Owners, and High Level Managers of existing companies and allows for eventual Green Card for worker, spouse, and children under the age of 21;
  4. A larger company can readily obtain L-1 Visas for their employees to freely travel, once the first L-1 Visa is established;
  5. No minimum investment amount is required, the Business Plan has to make sense, and the investment amount is very much dependent on the type of business;
  6. If the it is set up properly, it can potentially provide visas and possibly Green Cards for multiple executive and managerial people, their spouses, and children then the age of 21;
  7. No country restrictions (except Iran and North Korea);

The Cons of L-1 Visa

  1. The individual must have an already established and running business for at least a couple of years;
  2. Foreign businesses must be audited, have all tax returns (if applicable) or tax audits done properly, and must be able to demonstrate legitimate employees on payroll;
  3. The individual CANNOT abandon the business in the foreign country; this is meant to run simultaneously with the “Sister” company, so the individual must have the resources to run both businesses simultaneously;
  4. In general, the Company in USA must have very similar ownership structure as with the foreign company; sometimes challenging with UAE business structures;

In order to obtain an L-1 Visa, the Employer of the foreign branch needs to submit the required forms, pay the required fees, and submit supporting documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

USCIS will review the documents, and advise if further documentation is required. Upon approval of the petition with USCIS, the individual traveling to the United States will be able to submit the required application to their respective U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Upon submission of the application, the individual is able to schedule an interview with the U.S.

Embassy or Consulate, in which the individual will need to provide the Immigration Officer with the requested documents at the time of the interview.

The Immigration Officer will be able to advise if the application has been approved, denied, in need of further documentation, or subject to administrative processing for further security clearance.

Upon submission of the application, the individual is able to schedule an interview with the U.S.