Multinational companies rely on being able to move important team members at the speed of business. To do this effectively, corporate leadership must employ immigration strategies that consider a variety of scenarios – from temporary visas for training and short-term projects to longer-term solutions that allow foreign executives, managers, and those with critical skillsets to live and work in the United States.
Today, I will go over how multinational companies can use the E visa and L visa – and a combination of the two – to meet their business needs.
First, let’s go over the basic requirements for each visa:
To sponsor employees using the E Visa program, a foreign company must satisfy the following requirements:
- The company is majority owned by an individual or a group of individuals primarily (i.e., more than 50%) from an E Visa treaty country. Alternatively, a large corporation traded on a foreign stock exchange and registered in that foreign country is considered a “resident” of that country for E visa purposes.
- The company registers or is registered with the U.S. Embassy in the owner’s home country as an E-2 qualifying business.
- The company intends to hire employees who share the owner’s nationality, and will serve in an executive or management capacity, or perform work vital to the company’s success.
While most multinational companies are familiar with L visas for intracompany transfers, some are not as well-versed on the E visa program. The E visa is a nonimmigrant visa, granted in two-year increments and can be extended indefinitely while the business remains a qualifying business. The E visa is usually processed through the Embassy Consulate of the business owner’s country of citizenship.
Benefits of E Visa for Multinational Corporations
The E Visa is Readily Available
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the E visa is that it is always readily available. Unlike the H-1B visa, E visas are not subject to a yearly cap and the burdensome timeline that goes with the H-1B Cap Lottery. As long as the employee shares citizenship with the company’s owner, the E Visa is an excellent option for expeditiously moving valued employees to the United States.
Consular Processing Creates Shorter Time Frames for E Visa Processing
E visas are processed through the Embassy Consulate of the business owner’s home country, and as such, do not need preapproval through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Consular processing is generally more streamlined, creating shorter timeframes and improved outcomes.
The E Visa is Flexible
The E visa can be used for any position in your company including new hires, as long as you can prove the beneficiary’s skills are vital to your business. While E visas are most often applied to executive and manager-level positions, we have also seen E visas successfully applied to engineers, technicians and product specialists. Unlike the L visa, E visas do not require an individual to have previously worked within the company in a management or essential role capacity.
Blanket L Petitions
Most multinational companies already utilize L-1A and L-1B visas to move executives, managers, and essential employees from foreign offices. The employee must have worked for a qualifying foreign office for one of the last three years in a qualifying position and be coming to the United States in a qualifying position (i.e., manager, executive, specialized knowledge employee). Generally, to sponsor employees using the L Visa program, a foreign company must satisfy the following requirements:
- The company must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, such as a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate
- The company must be an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L visa.
While L visas are an essential component of comprehensive immigration strategies, multinational corporations have recently been confounded by increased Request for Evidence (RFE) filings and outright denials.
For Qualifying Companies, the Blanket L Program Allows for Streamlined Consular Processing and More Equitable Adjudications
Blanket L visas should be used by any company that qualifies. To qualify, a company must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries and affiliates. Additionally, the company must have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals in the last year, have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million, or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees. Companies that meet these requirements are well-advised to seek a Blanket L Approval for their affiliated entities. This Approval allows L-1 employees (managers, executives, and specialized knowledge professionals) to apply for their L-1 visa stamp directly at the US Embassy. This saves time, money, and energy in the process and, with an interview at the Embassy, provides the employee with a direct opportunity to present their case and answer any questions the officer may have regarding their position or background directly, which generally means more equitable adjudications.
Benefits of L Visa for Multinational Companies
L Visas Apply to Any Nationality
Where E visas are limited to business owners from treaty countries and employees who share their nationality, the L visa is available for business owners from any country and can be applied to any foreign national. Talent knows no borders, and the L visa provides one of the most flexible tools for immigration into the United States.
L-1A Managerial/Executive Visas Provide a “Smoother” Path to Permanent Resident Status
L-1A visas give employers the opportunity to sponsor their valued employee for permanent resident status through a more streamlined process that allows the employer to bypass the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process. This can be a valuable tool for retention of valued employees, especially in today’s fraught immigration landscape, and save the employer and the employee time and money in the “green card” process.
How to Use the E Visa and L Visa in Tandem to meet Corporate Needs
The E and L Visa programs are both effective and reliable visa programs that meet the demands of today’s multinational companies. Qualifying companies are well-advised to use these programs together to elevate their business immigration strategy and to more readily move talent from around the globe into the United States. Our attorneys specialize in crafting business immigration plans to meet the exact needs of your business – and are happy to offer complimentary consultations to help you navigate the landscape. Even if you have used the same immigration programs for years, changing times call for adaptive strategies to ensure you are always ready to meet your corporate goals. We would be happy to help.