Is The L-1 Visa A Good Alternative to The EB-5 Visa?

Among those who wish to relocate to the United States, there are naturally questions of how to do so, and what obstacles must be overcome. Many wish to do so in a manner that doesn’t restrict their activities in the United States, making permanent residence the best option for them. In this article, we will look at two different options for gaining permanent residence: the L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa, and the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa and Green Card.


The L-1 intracompany transferee visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a U.S. company, under certain conditions, to transfer its employee from one of its foreign affiliations to the U.S. company. After a certain time period L-1 visa holders may be able to apply for green cards.

Initial conditions for obtaining an L-1 company transfer:

  • the employee must have worked for the foreign entity one year of the three years immediately preceding the petition
  • the company is an operating businesses.

If an individual wishing to immigrate to the US has a company in abroad, they would be in a position to take advantage of the L-1A visa. This person may open a subsidiary in the United States, or acquire a controlling share (51% or more) in an existing U.S. company. After doing so, he would be allowed to transfer vital employees to operate and manage the business in the United States.

The family members of an L-1 visa holder would also be able to benefit. They would be allowed to accompany the visa holder to the United States on L-2 status. This would grant them the right to attend school. The spouse of an L-1 may also apply for temporary work authorization in the United States.

The L-1 classification carries a strong possibility of leading to a Green Card process under the EB-1C Multinational Manager category. The U.S. company would file a petition and upon its approval, the individual and his family may apply for green cards.

However there are restrictions and limitations on the L-1. The individual may only work for the U.S. company that petitioned for the visa. The individual must also be aware that the validity of the visa may be dependent on the success of the U.S. company.  This is in contrast to the EB-5 option, where the success of the investment is irrelevant, provided that the minimum number of jobs were created and the investor's funds remained invested during their conditional residency period.


The EB-5 Immigrant Investor classification is a slightly more popular option, as it allows those who qualify a direct path to permanent residency. The most basic requirement is the individual’s willingness and ability to invest $800,000 in a commercial enterprise in the United States. If this is the case, the individual and his family could obtain Green Cards with relatively low difficulty. 

In addition, given that the terms of EB-5 investment do not require the investor to be an active investor, EB-5 applicants are not restricted to the geographical location of the investment. They are free to live, work and study anywhere in the United States.

The initial Green Cards would be granted for a conditional period of two years. The investors will be allowed to apply for removal of the condition within 90 days of the two-year expiration period. The condition is usually removed upon proof that the $800,000 is still invested and at least 10 jobs per investor were created during the conditional residency period. Five years after obtaining their initial green cards, the investor and his family may apply for U.S. citizenship.

For more details about the EB-5 program, please check out ourBook, The Complete Guide to The EB-5 Green Card, available on our website.

Each of the options discussed involve more details and complexities than outlined above. I encourage you to discuss each option with an experienced immigration attorney prior to deciding which is best suited for you.