U.S Investor Visa Q&A

Mitch L Wexler, Esq., Partner

Direct: +1-949-660-3531    [email protected]


1. Are there temporary (nonimmigrant) as well as permanent (immigrant/green
card) visa options for investors & entrepreneurs?
Answer: Yes
2. I have a business in London and want to expand to the US. What work visa
should I consider?
Answer: Probably L-1 but E-2 might be an option as well. L-1 is for intra
company transferees in key roles.
3. What must the legal connection of the London & US entities be?
Answer: The US & London entities must be sufficiently, legally linked. Common
satisfying linkage is one effectively controlling the other in terms of stock
ownership or each being owned by the same entity, individual or group of
4. Can a new hire be transferred to the US on an L-1 visa?
Answer: The transferee must have worked for the London entity for at least 1 of
the last 3 years in a qualifying position.
5. What are acceptable “qualifying positions”?
Answer: Qualifying positions include those that are considered executive or
managerial in nature as well as those requiring “specialized knowledge” of the
company’s products or processes.
6. How long can one remain in the US on an L-1 work visa?
Answer: If on an L-1A (executives/Managers), it can be extended for up to 7
years. If on an L-1B (specialized knowledge), it can be extended for up to 5
7. How is the length of the visa issued?
Answer: If the US entity is a new start up (as opposed to purchasing an existing
business), the L-1 will be good for an initial 1 year. If the entity performs,
extensions of L status can be asked for in 2 year increments
8. Can spouses work?
Answer: L-2 spouses can apply for a work permit once in the US in L-2 (spousal)
9. Are there different types of E visas?
Answer: Yes. There is an E-1 and E-2. Both are borne out of a treaty between
the US and many countries including the UK.
10.What is the difference between the E-1 & E-2?
Answer: The E-1 is a “Treaty Trader” nonimmigrant (temporary) work visa and
the E-2 is a “Treaty Investor” nonimmigrant (temporary) work visa.
11.What are the requirements to qualify for an E-1 visa?
Answer: -There must be a qualifying Treaty in existence between the 2
– The applicant must have that nationality
– The US entity must be at least 50% owned by national of the Treaty
– The UK and US must carry on “substantial trade” with each other
which is defined as at least 51% being bilateral between the 2 countries. The
“substantiality” of the trade is determined on a case by case by case
– Applicants must be coming to work in the US entity is a qualifying
capacity which includes

12.What are the requirements for an E-2 visa?
Answer: – There must be a qualifying Treaty in place between the 2 countries
– The applicant must have that nationality
– The US entity must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the Treaty
– The investment in the US entity must be “substantial” which is
determined on a case by case basis. I many cases, $100k+ is considered
– The US entity must not be “marginal” which is defined as not providing
income for the investor and her immediate family.
– Qualifying roles include those that are executive, supervisory or
“essentially skilled”
13.Can E spouses work in the US?
Answer: E spouses can apply for a work permit after entering the US in E status
14.Can L or E nonimmigrants apply for green cards?
Answer: Although neither are designed to be stepping stones to green card
status, there are paths available to achieve such status
15.What are some of the paths available to L and E nonimmigrants to achieve green
card status?
Answer: Although this is analysed and determined on a case by case basis,
generally, paths to consider include “labor certification, aka PERM” employer
sponsored requiring a labor market test), EB1A (can be self petitioned and
requires a showing of “extraordinary ability”), EB1C (for multi national executives
or managers) & EB5 (equity investment in a qualifying project or business that
creates 10 jobs. Must remain invested for about 5 years)
16.How can I apply for US citizenship?
Answer: Generally, one must be a green card holder for 5 years, be physically
present in the US for at least half that time and no single departure out of the S
for longer than 6 months. If one is the spouse of a US citizen, it is 3 years with a
physical presence requirement of 18 months.

Mitchell L. Wexler is a Sr Partner with Fragomen, the world’s leading professional
immigration law provider. He manages the firm’s Southern California region with offices
in Los Angeles, Irvine and san Diego. Mitch is a specialist in immigration & nationality
law, certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. He has been
practicing immigration law for 35+ years and is a long standing member of the BABOC,
having previously served on it’s Board for many years. He welcomes all queries to