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How do I know whether the L-1 or EB-5 visa is better?

Myself and three other investors want to open a new business in the United States. We have about $8 million dollars to invest. Should I apply for the L-1 visa or the EB-5 visa? How do I know which one to pick? Also, I have a visitor's visa valid until 2025. Can I come open the company before filing anything with USCIS?

Answers

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Your decision between the two categories will be made easier if you retain an experienced immigration attorney. An L-1 is a nonimmigrant visa (you could possibly apply for an EB1C green card if the U.S. company continues to do business for more than one year and you otherwise qualify as a manager or executive). If the total investment is in your own name only, an L-1 might not work, so you might consider an EB-5. However, if the business is not able to create the qualifying employment within the conditional period, then you could have a problem for EB-5; in that event you might only qualify for the L-1. Also, it is possible to do both if everything is structured correctly. You could start out with an L-1, making sure that the qualifying relationship exists between the foreign company and U.S. company, and then apply for EB-5 when you make a qualifying personal investment in the company that will create the required number of jobs. You have some flexibility, but you must plan everything out correctly from the beginning because it will be difficult to change it later on without affecting the immigration case.You certainly can open the company on a business visitor's visa before you file anything with USCIS.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The L-1A visa is generally for managers or executives of a foreign entity to be transferred to a U.S. entity, including new office operations. The EB-5 visa directly leads to permanent residence (green card) in the United States, and allows your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 to immigrate with you as permanent residents. The L-1A visa requires multiple steps to obtain permanent residence in the United States. You should consult an experienced immigration attorney first regarding which option may best suit all investors' needs and whether they meet qualifications for either type of visa.

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The first step is to retain an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney who will be able to advise you of the options. Please note the L-1 process requires the three investors to have worked in a managerial capacity for the foreign company for at least one year.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can continue to visit the United States with the B-1/B-2 visa throughout most of the process, up until getting your conditional permanent residency (complying with the authorized period of stay you receive upon each entry). The EB-5 gets you right to permanent residency, so if that is your goal, that would be the best way to go.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Best is to consult with an immigration lawyer that can go through the requirements for each, and advise on the pros and cons of each, and ask you questions like your intent to continue the foreign operations of your company, etc.

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    John J Downey

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Yes, you may open a company before doing anything with USCIS. Regarding the choice of L-1 or EB-5, right now if you were from Mainland China, I have advised some of my clients to go the L-1 route. There is currently a backlog on issuing visas. The L-1 has most of the benefits for the individual; you may obtain the visa for one year to open a new business, and you may then extend for two three-year periods. The good part is that during this period you may apply for permanent residence (green card). With $8 million to invest you should have little difficulty in obtaining the status. The drawback is that under EB-5 you could obtain green cards for your spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years old. Overall, the clients I have helped with L-1 seem very satisfied. They are allowed to work and travel back and forth easily. They can open a new company, a joint venture, subsidiary of a company from the home country, etc. They are not limited to any geographic locality such as the TEA under EB-5.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Simple answer would be your business needs should be a factor as well as your goals of living/working in the United States when deciding which immigration option would suit you best. As far as L-1 versus EB-5 is concerned, if you need to start working and living in the United States immediately, then L-1 would be the best option since the adjudication period for an EB-5 immigrant investor petition is over 12-14 months - after which you would need to apply for adjustment of status (if in the United States) and a work permit in order for you to be authorized for employment in the United States. You can incorporate the company, and have the company structure in place, but you can not operate the business without having immigration status in the United States, which authorizes you for employment.

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    Ian E Scott

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An L visa is a nonimmigrant visa, so temporary, whereas an EB-5 gets you a green card which is a permanent visa. Also, in order to apply for an L visa, you must have worked at the company abroad for one year. You can open and set up a company before filing, but you cannot "work" at the company.

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    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    L-1 is a nonimmigrant visa that is only good for seven years maximum. EB-5 is an immigrant visa that gives you permanent residency. If you intend to stay longer than a few years and, in particular, want your children to continue their U.S. education unencumbered, EB-5 is what you want.

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