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What are the differences between the L-1 and the EB-5 visa?

What are the benefits and drawbacks between L-1 and EB-5 visas? Which one of the two is better for the goal of obtaining a green card? Are the timelines the same for both?

Answers

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An L-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, although it does have an immigrant counterpart called EB1C (or E13), which is for multinational managers or executives. Not all potentially qualified EB-5 investors will qualify for an L-1 or EB1C, but if a particular individual does qualify for both, he or she should strongly consider the L-1 over the EB-5. The L-1 requires a qualifying relationship between a foreign company and a U.S. company (usually a parent/subsidiary or affiliate or joint venture) and proof that the individual has been a manager or executive for at least one year out of the previous three years for the foreign company. If coming to the United States to set up a new branch office, the L-1 is valid only for one year, and requires a showing that the new office will support a managerial/executive position within one year. If the U.S. company has been doing business for at least one year and it supports a managerial/executive position, then the EB1C green card might be a great option. The EB1C green card can be obtained more quickly that the EB-5 green card (particularly for China-born investors) and it is a permanent (ten-year validity), not conditional (two-year validity) green card. In my view, L-1 or EB1C is always better than EB-5 if the person can qualify for this category. EB-5 is a last resort only and it is used by people who can afford it, but really do not have any other U.S. immigration options.

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    Oliver Huiyue Qiu

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    L-1A or EB-1C are generally superior to EB-5 when it comes to the green card in terms of timing and efficiency. For example, the green card based upon EB-1C has no strings attached. However, L-1A is generally geared towards larger corporations. For many people, if your only goal is a green card and there is no local partner to implement the business plan, EB-5 remains the only way.

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An experienced EB-5 and immigration attorney will be able to advise you on the best alternative, EB-5 or L-1 visa. One advantage of the L-1 visa is that it can be obtained in a matter of a few months, compared to the EB-5 process which may take 1.5 years.

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    Ian E Scott

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The L visa is a nonimmigrant visa that is used for transferring employees from a foreign operation to the United States. In order to qualify, the employee must be a manager/executive or a specialist. The EB-5 is a green card. I am not sure, but perhaps you are confusing the E-2 visa which is another nonimmigrant visa with an EB-5 visa which is a green card. The E-2 visa and L visa have different requirements. One difference is that the E-2 visa requires that you invest a substantial amount in the United States, where an L visa just requires you have office presence. Another difference is that the L visa permits dual intent so you can apply for a green card and reenter the United States on the L visa. A final difference is that an L visa requires the employee to work for the parent company for at least one year prior to moving to the United States and the E visa does not require this. Neither visa "leads" to a green card, but if you are eligible to apply for a green card, you can apply for one.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The L-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, but often leads to a green card under the multinational national manager/executive EB-1C program. If the U.S. company is a new office you must be on an L for one year, extend the L and then can apply for the green card through EB-1C. It requires you to work for the overseas company for one year out of the last three in a managerial or executive position. The overseas and U.S. company must have a corporate relationship, and the overseas company must continue to operate after you come on an L-1 until you obtain the green card. It often requires a sizable investment in the U.S. company to make it successful, but there is not a dollar amount. This is a better and cheaper route if you qualify and want to follow the rules. The green card obtained is a permanent one. The EB-5 is an investor visa with specified dollar amounts required and the obligation to create 10 new jobs within ten years. You first get a two year green card and later apply to remove conditions and get a 10 year green card.

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    Steffanie J Lewis

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An L-1 visa is temporary status in the United States. An EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa upon which the foreign national might apply for U.S. conditional permanent resident status. An L-1 visa is to accommodate movement of executives of international companies and are processed rather quickly in contrast to an EB-5 visa for which the current processing time is something more than 14 months.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You are kind of comparing apples and oranges. L-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning you can only stay in the United States for a temporary period of time. You can use your first period of L-1 eligibility to form the basis for a green card application, but the EB-5 process would directly result in a green card. Yes, the investment required for EB-5 is much higher than for L-1, but you also do not need to have a qualifying relationship with a foreign business, and you do not even have to be employed by the business for EB-5 purposes (just create 10 jobs).

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    Michael A Harris

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The difference is that the L-1 is a temporary visa; the EB-5 is a permanent residence visa. Some points: -The L-1 can be sought and approved by USCIS and then at a consulate (for eligible cases) very quickly. That is, for the L-1 we will initially file a petition with USCIS; processing times for that visa option can be expedited in 15 calendar days through a process called Premium Processing. This option is not available for EB-5 visas. After approval of the initial petition, if you were not already in the United States pursuant to another form of status, you will then need to apply for the visa stamp at your home country's consulate. -The EB-5 visa requires a two-step process: (1) first we must apply for the EB-5 visa by submitting an I-526 petition, which is taking on average 14 months or longer; (2) when the I-526 petition is approved, then the investor and his family can either apply at the consulate for their immigrant visa or apply for a green card within the United States. -The L-1 visa lasts a maximum of 7 years (initially a 3 year stay can be obtained for existing companies; for startups a 1 year visa is given). -The L-1 visa requires that you be an executive or manager in order to eventually seek residence. The EB-5 visa - if you invest in a pooled investment such as at an EB-5 regional center - does not require you to be a manager or executive of the business you invest in. If you direct and control your own EB-5 investment business (i.e. open a restaurant and are responsible for overseeing the 10+ workers), then you would be directly involved in the business. As far as which visa option is a better path to residence, it really depends on the factors in your own case.

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    Vaughan de Kirby

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You cannot compare L-1 and EB-5 for a goal of obtaining a green card. I would only recommend EB-5 if your ultimate goal is U.S. permanent residency.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The L-1A visa is a temporary nonimmigrant work visa available to managers or executives being transferred from a foreign entity to either an existing affiliated entity in the United States or to open a new affiliated office in the United States. The L-1B visa is for persons with specialized knowledge. The L-1 visa leads to a permanent residence in the United States (green card) through certain multiple steps. The EB-5 visa leads directly to a conditional permanent residence in the United States and, after the condition is removed, it provides for permanent residence (permanent green card) in the United States. Please contact an experienced immigration attorney for more detailed consultation.

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