Difference between L Visa to E Investor Visa

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Difference between L Visa to E Investor Visa

The L-1 visa program for multinational companies is quite similar to the E visa program for investors and treaty traders. It is not only confusing, but it also creates a lot of problems for petitioners, especially if he/she does not know the significant difference between the two visa programs. If you are finding it difficult to distinguish one from the other, here is what you need to keep in mind.

Time Constraints

One of the major differences between the two visa programs is that of time constraints. You have to keep in mind that the time limit for an E visa is far more flexible in comparison to the L-1 visa program. E-1/2 visa holders are allowed to stay for up to two years and can file extensions for another additional two years. There are no limitations on how many times you can file for an extension, which is not the case with an L-1A/B visa.


Even though both visa programs are used for work-related reasons, there is a huge difference between the two in terms of qualifications. For an L-1 visa, the employer applies on behalf of the petitioner in the case that he/she has been a part of the organization for a year serving as an executive or manager and has specialized knowledge, which is essential for carrying out its operations in the U.S. Furthermore, the parent company needs to be engaged in trade and has an investment in the U.S. There is no such specific requirement in the case of an E-1/2 visa holder as long as he/she is serving as a manager or executive within the organization they are working for.

Application Process

At first the application process will look identical, but upon closer inspection you will come to realize that the difference is quite significant. Both visa programs require you to apply through an I-129 form with the USCIS or by applying at a local U.S. consulate. However, in the case of an L-1 application the employer needs to send an L petition for approval to the USCIS. Once the petition has been approved only then can the beneficiary acquire his/her visa from the local consulate. This is not the case with the E-1/2 visa program as you can easily apply through the consulate directly without actually having to submit a separate I-129 application form with the USCIS.

At first the two visa programs are quite easy to confuse with one another. Keeping the aforementioned factors in mind, you now know the key differences between the L-1 and E-1/2 visa programs. It is true that there are many options for employees, investors and businesses to choose from to further their cause in the U.S, but choosing the right option depends on the needs of the company itself. An incorrect choice can prove to be disastrous for a company’s employees and potential prospects in the U.S. This is one of the reasons why seeking professional assistance is always a good idea.

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