Understanding the nuances of different types of visas can be a challenge. At first glance, there are similarities between L1-A, L1-B visas and E1-A and E1-B that are difficult to untangle.
The critical difference between the L visa and the E visa is that an employer must sponsor the L visa. The L visa offers a pathway to permanent residence. The E visa does not.
L1-A and L1-B Visas
Known as an intercompany transfer visa, an employer must petition on behalf of their selected candidate. An L-1 visa is issued to a manager or executive, and an L-2 visa is issued to an individual with specialized knowledge.
The candidate must be affiliated with the overseas corporation or parent company for a minimum of three years before being brought into the United States. Companies that are less than one year old can apply to sponsor their foreign national for a visa that is valid up to one year which can then be renewed for up to five years. For a company that has been in business longer than one year, an employer-sponsored visa can be issued for up to three years immediately and can be renewed for a period of up to five years.
Similar rules apply to an LB-1 visa seeker (a person with special expertise). A company that has been in business more than one year can apply for a visa that for years in duration and can be renewed up to five years.
L-1A and L-1B visas are known as "dual intent" meaning that they are an excellent vehicle for someone looking to establish permanent residency in the United States. If a candidate's visa expires and they have not applied for permanent residency, they must leave the country.
The E1 and E2 visas are referred to as "trade visas." These visas are issued to individuals from countries who trade with the United States. To obtain one of these visas, the petitioner must make a financial contribution and must meet the definition of an executive manager.
Applicants must be citizens of the country from which they apply.
The difference between the E1 and E2 refers to the treaty group the country is categorized. E2 visa seekers investments are irrevocable even if they leave the United States within a short period of time.
These visas are used by small businesses and are issued for up to two years with two-year extensions that are not limited.
E1 and E2 visas are not meant for duel intent and do offer a pathway to permanent citizenship.
Hire a qualified immigration professional to guide you through the visa process and ensure your best chance of success.