L1 Visa vs. E2 Visa: The Key Differences

L1 Visa vs. E2 Visa


The L1 and E2 visas are powerful options for investors and entrepreneurs. Both of these options allow someone to live and work in the United States.


While the L1 visa and the E2 visa have many similarities, they are very different in many ways. In this guide, I will compare these 2 visa options to help you determine whether the L1 visa or E2 visa is the right option for you.


If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at michael@ashoorilaw.com. I am very responsive to email and would be happy to help you.




  1. Quick Introduction to L1 Visa and E2 Visa


  1. Non-Immigrant Visas


  1. Position-Based vs. Investment-Based Visa


  1. Availability Based on Nationality


  1. Work Authorization


  1. Work Authorization for Spouse


  1. Visa Duration


  1. Ability to Convert to Green Card


  1. New Offices and Existing Offices


  1. Conclusion



1. Quick Introduction to L1 Visa and E2 Visa


The L1 visa and the E2 visa have different requirements. In this section, I will cover the basics of both of these visas.


L1 Visa


The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows a foreign company to send an employee to work for a related U.S. company. To qualify for an L1 visa, there are several requirements to fulfill.


L1 Visa Requirements


  • The foreign company and U.S. company must be parent/subsidiary, branch offices, or affiliates.


  • In the last three years, the transferred employee must have worked full-time continuously for one year for the foreign company.


  • The employee's role in the foreign company must have been managerial, executive, or for specialized knowledge.


  • The employee's new role in the U.S. company must be managerial, executive, or for specialized knowledge.


E2 Visa


The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for investors, entrepreneurs, and people looking to run a business in the United States. With an E2 visa, you can start a new US business or invest in an existing business.


E2 Visa Requirements


  • You must be a national of an E2 treat country.


  • You must intend to depart the US once your E2 status ends.


  • You must make a substantial investment in a U.S. company.


  • Your E2 business must be an active, for-profit business.


  • Your E2 business must not be a marginal enterprise.


  • You must be entering the U.S. to direct and develop your E2 business.


  • Your investment funds' source must be lawful.


  • Your investment must be irrevocably committed to the E2 business and must be at-risk.


2. Non-Immigrant Visas


The key similarity between the L1 and E2 visas is that they are both non-immigrant visas. They both are temporary and do not lead directly to a green card. While both of these visas are temporary, they can both be renewed. Later in this guide, I will talk about the duration of each of these visas.


Additionally, while the L1 and E2 visa do not directly lead to a green card, there are ways to convert both of these visas into a green card (permanent residence). Later in this article, I will discuss how to do this.


3. Position-Based vs. Investment-Based Visa


One of the fundamental differences between the L1 visa and E2 visa has to do with the focus of the visa.


L1 Visa


For the L1 visa, the main focus is on the L1 visa beneficiary’s job duties. Specifically, the L1 visa requires that the L1 visa beneficiary (the person applying for the L1 visa) must have worked in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position with the foreign company. The L1 visa also requires that the L1 visa beneficiary will work in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position with the US company. The L1 visa has 2 categories: L1A and L1B. The L1A category is for workers working in a managerial or executive capacity. The L1B category is for workers working in a specialized knowledge capacity. The job description forms the basis for which visa category to apply under.


Basically, the main focus of the L1 visa is to make sure that the L1 worker’s job duties are truly managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge in nature.


E2 Visa

For the E2 visa, the main focus has to do with making an investment in a US business. Specifically, the E2 visa requires that you make a substantial investment in a US business.


The Foreign Affairs Manual states: “No set dollar figural constitutes a minimum amount of investment to be considered ‘substantial’ for E-2 visa purposes” [9 FAM 402.9-6(D)].


Instead, USCIS conducts a proportionality test. The proportion is the amount of money invested versus the value of the business.


As a general rule of thumb, at my firm, I like to see that at least $100,000 invested in the business and put at risk. The higher the investment, the better the chance for your investment to be considered substantial.


If you have any questions about the E2 investment, please email me at michael@ashoorilaw.com. I’d be happy to help analyze your investment.


4. Availability Based on Nationality


One of the main differences between the L1 visa and the E2 visa has to do with the availability of the visa.


E2 Visa


The E2 visa is based on a treaty and is only available to people from certain countries. In order to be eligible for an E2 visa, you must have the nationality of a country that has an E2 treaty with the United States. Here is a list of the E2 treaty countries. While there are many E2 treaty countries, there are also many countries that do not have an E2 treaty. Some major countries that do not have an E2 treaty with the U.S. include China, Russia, India, and Brazil.


L1 Visa


The L1 visa is not based on a treaty. People with all nationalities are eligible to apply for the L1 visa (excluding travel ban issues).


5. Work Authorization


Both the L1 visa and the E2 visa authorize you to work in the United States.


With an L1 visa, you can only work for your U.S. company petitioner.


With an E2 visa, you must work for your E2 business. You cannot be a passive investor. As an E2 investor, you must be direct and develop the E2 business (meaning that you are actively involved in the business). You may not work for other businesses that are not your E2 business.


6. Work Authorization for Spouse


Both the L1 visa and the E2 visa allow your spouse to obtain work authorization.


The spouse of an L1 visa holder may apply for an L2 visa which is eligible for work authorization.


The spouse of an E2 visa holder, may also apply for an E2 visa. The spouse would also be eligible for work authorization as the dependent of the principal E2 investor.


7. Visa Duration


The E2 and L1 visas have different maximum durations of stay.


L1 Visa


For a new office, the initial visa is granted for a 1-year period and can be extended. For an existing office, the L1 visa is granted for a 3-year period and can be extended.


For an L1A visa, the maximum duration is 7 years. For an L1B visa, the max has a maximum duration is 5 years.


E2 Visa


The E2 visa’s validity period depends on the country issuing the visa. Most E2 visas range from 1 year to 5 years.


The E2 visa can be renewed as long as your E2 company continues to satisfy all the E2 visa requirements. There is no limit to the number of times an E2 visa can be renewed.


Important Point:


If your E2 visa is valid for 5 years, this does not mean that you may remain inside the US for 5 years straight. The E2 visa gives 2 years of status every time you enter the US. As long as your E2 visa is still valid, you may exit and re-enter the US for another 2 years of status. This concept can be confusing to understand, so if you have any questions about this, please email me at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.


8. Ability to Convert to Green Card


Both the E2 visa and the L1 visa are non-immigrant visas. This means that they do not directly lead to a green card. However, both the L1 and the E2 visa can be converted to a green card.


L1 Visa to Green Card


There are multiple ways to go from an L1 visa to green card. One of the most common ways to go from an L1 visa to green card is through the EB1C immigrant visa category. The EB1C in an immigrant visa category which very closely resembles the L1A visa with some key differences.


In addition to the EB1C option, another way to go from L1 visa to green card is through an employer sponsored green card. To learn more about how to go from an L1 visa to green card, please see my article on this subject here.


E2 Visa to Green Card


There are multiple ways to go from an E2 visa to green card. One option to do this is through the EB5 visa. The EB5 visa is an investment-based immigrant visa. Through the EB5 visa someone can apply for a green card based on making an investment in a U.S. company. As of the time this article is being written, the minimum EB5 investment amount is $800,000. One of the benefits of going from an E2 visa to an EB5 visa is that you may be able to credit the amount you’ve already invested in your E2 business toward your required EB5 investment. This is a complex area of immigration law, so if you have any questions about this, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.


Another way to go from an E2 visa to green card is through an employer sponsored green card. To learn more about how to go from an E2 visa to green card, please take a look at my article on how to do this.



9. Availability for New Businesses and Existing Businesses


Both new businesses and existing businesses are eligible to apply for an E2 or an L1 visa, assuming all requirements are met.


Under the L1 visa, you may apply for a “new office” L1 if your U.S. business has been operational for less than 1 year. Basically, the L1 visa has a special option for new offices. Through the L1 visa, a foreign company can transfer an employee to come to the U.S. to work for a brand-new office. If the U.S. business has been operating for longer than a year, the foreign company can also transfer the L1 beneficiary to the U.S. company (this would be an existing office L1 visa).


To qualify for the E2 visa, you can either start a new business or invest in an existing business. These two visas present excellent opportunities for people to create new businesses in the U.S.


10. Conclusion


The L1 visa and E2 visa are both great options for coming to the U.S. if you are an entrepreneur, investor, or high-level manager/executive. These visas have many benefits and similarities. Simultaneously, the L1 visa and E2 visa have several key differences.


You should now have a much better understanding of the similarities and differences between these two visas.


If you would like further help in choosing between these two visa categories or if you have any questions, please email me at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.  I would be happy to help you.

Share this post...

Ashoori Law
Based on 618 reviews
saeid zamani
I had an appointment with Mr Mehri, he answered all of my questions patiently and professionally. I am fully satisfied with their service and strongly recommend them.
Pawan Sutrala
Excellent unit at Ashoori Law to help us through what ended up as not a very straightforward E2 visa process. My wife was the main E2 applicant of a new franchised based business in a CPOM state. CPOM (Corporate Practice of Medicine), for the... uninitiated, is a doctrine that establishes stringent rules and structural guardrails on businesses and business owners of medical and related practices. Not all states in the US have these requirements. Ashoori team and Shruti Bali, in particular, was excellent and, more so, patient in dealing with us and our concerns, fears and expectations. Quite a few times, we found ourselves in a panic with our situation - we had made the requisite financial and personal commitments (for instance, sold our holdings in Canada, paid the substantial franchise fees). However, Michael personally got involved and Shruti was phenomenal in calming our nerves and prepping us through the process. The guidance around our options were clear and ambiguities very few. The preparation for the interview was immaculate - we were over-prepared and breezed through that. Thank you Michael, Shruti and the rest of the fantastic Ashoori team. Worth every penny!read more
Hannah Mansour
Ashoori Law provided an exceptional service from start to finish for my approved E2 visa application. Their expert knowledge and management of every aspect of the application meant that the process was smooth and efficient. Everyone involved was... friendly, professional and went the extra mile to make sure that the application was flawless. I would recommend them 1000 times over. Thank you Ashoori Law!read more
Peppe Öhman
Me and my husband immediately knew Ashoori Law was the law firm we wanted to help us with our green card application. The approach of this firm is friendly and professional. All our inquiries were answered rapidly and we felt very secure in out... journey to permanent residency. I warmly recommend Ashoori Law.read more
Amir Asgari
A Life Changing Law FirmI would like to thank the team of Ashoori Law who took care of my application for EB5 .Very efficient and professional.
Eric Georgeson
Great team, good system, always responding to the emails on time and following up without me asking.Highly recommending.
Matthew Habib
The law firm of Michael Ashoori was a great & pleasant experience, they are professionalsI 100% recommend them for all your immigration needsThank you ashoori law firm
meelad almasak
Ashoori Law has been helpful throughout my immigration process! Everyone on the team, attorney's, paralegals, legal assistants and the billing team are phenomenal. They are professional that take time to answer your questions, and make you feel at... ease. Lorianne and her team have made my application easy and smooth. I would highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone!read more
Jamie Faus
Ashoori Law was attentive to our questions through the process of obtaining a marriage based green card. They walked us through the process, saved us countless hours worth of paperwork, and set clear expectations. Ultimately, Ashoori helped us... secure the marriage based green card in the period of time they had initially quoted. We would recommend Ashoori to those looking to option a marriage based green card.read more
Ramandeep Singh
We have known Michael for almost 4 years now. Very knowledgeable and top most professional in his field. We hired Michael for E2 visa and he got us approval every single time even for the renewals. Michael truly believes in helping the clients all... across the world through his videos and I definitely recommend him to anyone looking for immigration advice. Best of the best !!!read more
Mayra Contreras
We have had a great experience with Ashoori Law. All of the staff are very responsive. I am a many questions person and they had answers to everything. Our case was processed quickly and efficiently. We will continue to use them and recommend them... to family and friends.read more
Joti Puri
I am so glad I used this firm for my US related immigration work. They were very friendly and pleasant to engage with and answered all my questions in a timely manner throughout the entire process. They were also cheaper in comparison to another... firm who I had been recommended to by a friend. The information they provided was accurate and made sure my application was never jeopardized ensuring I was up to date and acting in compliance with the law.read more
mohammad javadipour
I have got my Case approval only within 10 months!I think it was one of my best decision to choose The Ashoori Law, which they have helped me a lot through the whole process, and if had not be the preciseness and accuracy which they have shown... through the whole process, the result would be still in dark for me.They are extremely experienced which I think that what makes them a wining card!read more
Rohit Sirinivasa at Ashoori Law provided some very valuable advice for my H1B NOID issued by USCIS. He is proficient and very prompt with his communication.
Hitesh Mahay
I had a great experience with Ashoori Law Firm. Ashoori Law is a professional law firm with a great team. They helped me getting my I-140 approval. Everyone was responsive and helpful in guiding me through the process. I highly recommend them for... all your immigration needs.read more
Roman G
We applied for E2 visa and were approved. Our experience was very positive, they reviewed our documents and prepared the packet very fast and were attentive to all our questions. I would definitely recommend them. Also they didn't charge any hidden... fees, were upfront with all the expenses.read more
Yousuf Dadi
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your help with my cases. It had been an exciting journey since 2018 when we first started working with Ashoori law Office on my E visas .I am grateful to you and to all your colleagues... who assisted in the whole process. Thank you so much! I appreciate all of your help and guidance Attorney Fredrick has also been great, and I appreciate all the hard work that he has put into my case EB5 as well. This was a long process but definitely worth it!read more
Fauzia Usman
Thankyou so much Michael Ashoori and your Immigration Attorney Shruti Bali and all team member to help me process me and my family case of E2 Investor Visa. It took Approx. 10 months from Ontario Canada. I Never visit IN person to this Firm,... everything deal and process online. Ashoori Law serve Great Professional Service. Highly recommend.read more
Berna Antelo
I really recommend the Ashoori Law team, they are wonderful and always ready to help you in all the different steps and process. My best experience.
Anita Valasek
Ashoori Law has made my husband’s American dream became reality exactly in 5 months time. I found Ashoori Law on Tiktok. I liked how informative Michael’s videos were so I knew his law firm would be the one for us. From the moment we approached them... till the unbelievable last email that informed us that my husband’s green card arrived at their firm, has been a very smooth ride. Very responsive to any questions we had, they worked as efficiently as we did on our paperwork. We highly recommend Ashoori Law with all your immigration needs. We are very thankful for their expertise.read more
Adam Weston
We finally received my wife’s green card thanks to Ashoori Law. They made everything very easy which is key. Highly recommend.
zaheer aulakh
My experience with Ashoori law is excellent.I applied for E2 through them and I got the approval.Throughout the whole process Ashoori team and specially my attorney has been very supportive and guiding.I really recommend Ashoori Law.
Karim El-Gamal
I’ve worked with Ashoori on several issues regarding E2s and EB5s and some other unique issues. They have delivered on my needs every time with support from their team and networks. I’ve worked with other law firms prior and no one could handle... these unique complex requirements like Ashoori.read more
Malwa Truckline
We express our heartfelt gratitude to Michael and the entire team at Ashoori Law Firm for their exceptional handling of our case. Their professional expertise and dedicated efforts made the entire process remarkably smooth and easy for us. We... enthusiastically recommend Ashoori Law Firm to anyone seeking top-notch legal services. It was truly a pleasure doing business with them, and we are thoroughly satisfied with the outstanding quality of their work.read more
Gunveen Bachher
Highly recommended. The staff is professional and they do whatever it takes to get the job done. Thank you so much for everything.
Highly professional, supportive, patient and timely response with our ongoing immigrant visa process. I highly recommend this firm!
I wish to express my sincere thanks for all the work and effort you, your team and especially Lorainne put into my case. Lorainne is a senior experienced attorney with detailed knowledge all intricacies and rules and regulations of L1, she guided... and handheld me through the whole process beautifully.L1 is not an easy process, but you guys made it absolutely seamless for me, without putting any undue financial burdens.Your team also did a wonderful job with writing the business plan. All work and pricing was transparent. Support and responsiveness was on point. The process was made easy and seamless in every way.May God Bless You and bestow upon you more Success, Peace and Happiness in everything you all do. Amen!read more
Andres Riera
Ashoori Law came highly recommended and did not disappoint. My whole immigration process was smooth from beginning to end. They answered any questions at any time and always kept me updated. If needed to, I would not hesitate to consult with them... againread more
I booked a consultation on the web site. There were 2 text reminders before, which is really great! I talked to Juan Robles. He answered all my questions, cleared all the doubts. I'm very greatfull to him! Strongly Recommended!
Kay F
Green card approved! 🎈 🎈 🎈Would like to say a sincere thank you to Ashoori Law firm and team for the tremendous job they did. My husband and I attended our green card interview November of 2022. Our case kept pending until... June of 2023. We were rescheduled for another interview in September 2023. Michael and team still kept contact and kept us updated throughout the waiting period. An Attorney was availed to us just to help out with the preparations. Even after having waited for almost a year, Ashoori law did not ask us to pay any extra attorney fees. My green card was approved a few hours after the interviews. We are sincerely grateful for the guidance and help rendered throughout this process. If we had to retain an attorney again for this process, we would definitely hire you a thousand times more.read more
Carlos Iglesias
I found out about Ashoori Law because I was looking for a law office on the internet. I was skeptical at first since I was living in Miami, and they are located in California. I looked for more information about them and despite having found it, I... preferred to look for something local. I found a local office in Miami and went in person for an interview. After paying for the first consultation and before starting to collect the necessary documents, they stopped answering my calls and communicating with the lawyer was very difficult. Due to that bad experience I decided to give Ashoori Law a chance and I am happy I did. The first consultation was free and starting the process was very simple, they have a platform where you can upload the documents and monitor what is needed. My wife was out of the country, and it was very helpful to have the facility to upload the documents. Jesser was always ready to help me with my questions and no more than 24 hours went by without receiving a response from them, even the payments were easy to make, the accounting department they have is very effective, they made sure I received my receipts on time, and they even helped me with the best payment method available. I am very satisfied with them, and I definitely recommend this office. If you want to know more about them, you will eventually see that their offices and they are legit. I even receive videos and updates every week with important information on the latest developments in immigration laws. My wife and I are happy to have chosen them.read more
Arsineh Hebert
Ashoori Law has exceeded our expectations. They are extremely professional, courteous, support a quick turn around, and communicate regularly and clearly. I highly recommend them!
Arsineh Hebert
We had an excellent experience with Ashoori Law. Extremely progressional and worked quickly to get us a successful outcome!
mohammed khaled
The Ashoori firm is one of the best law firms I have dealt with. They are so quick, professional, and responsive.I got my case approved in a few weeks
Mariana Sanchez
I had a great experience working with the Ashoori Law team. Everybody was responsive and helpful in guiding me through the immigration process. They answer all of your questions and really make it easy for you to work out immigration stuff. Do your... part (turn in the requested documents on time) and then rest is taken care of by the Ashoori Law team. True peace of mind.read more
Alec Strickland
Ashoori was a great help with our green card process. They filed all of our paperwork, were available the entire time to answer any questions (we had many), and provided personal counseling for the final interview
Jamal Albardwil
I was delighted with my experience. Mr. Ehsan Ashoori Was a professional, and free consultation meant free and informative. And he educated me on what to expect and do, the likely outcomes, and how to achieve it. I would highly highly recommend this... immigration law firm to anyone needing an immigration law firm.I wish I could give them 6 stars.100% professionals.read more
Sanjeev Bhalla
Ashoori Law is a professional law firm with a great team. We had applied for my daughter's change of status visa and they handled it pretty well and we got the status change without any difficulty. I would strongly recommend them to anyone who... wishes to engage a immigration law firm. They will do a great job as was in our case. I'd like to thank Michael and Sergio as well their entire team for the fantastic work work they did for us.read more
Graem Beddoes
Very grateful for the help and guidance in getting our E2
Carolina Marmolejo
Very proffessional law firm. My husband & I appreciated their attentive, meticulous and detailed work on our case. They always stayed communicated and responsive to us from beginning to end.
Kaveeta Ramnarine
Totally grateful to the Ashoori team for their excellent service. They are very responsive and knowledgeable, they go above and beyond for their clients.Special thank you to Attorneys Rebecca McCarthy and Ehsan Mehri for their continued support in... our process.read more
Shyam Chandrasekharan
I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for your exceptional guidance and expertise in securing my visa extension approval. Your professionalism, attention to detail, and dedication were instrumental in achieving this success. Your support and clear... communication throughout the process were invaluable. I'm deeply grateful for your outstanding work.read more
Malia Hi’ilani
Ashoori Law is a very knowledgeable and thorough law firm, with a great team. They gave me confidence in my business plan by providing a free discovery call to see if it was worth pursuing. Very personable and available for all of my questions or... concerns throughout the process. I was granted my E2 change of status successfully. I would highly recommend them for all of your immigration needs.read more
Israt Jahan
AshooriLaw is a great choice for our case.they response fast and very helpful.
Beth Jinks
Ashoori Law again handled my green card travel document renewal application professionally, and they accurately predicted the processing time. I've tackled similar paperwork alone before, but have now been working with Ashoori for about five years... because they provide peace of mind that everything is handled correctly. Highly recommend.read more
Next Reviews
Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.