Managers and Executives of Multinational organizations can apply with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to transfer to a managerial position which will allow them to work in the U.S. Under the L-1 visa program or E visa program for treaty traders personnel can enjoy the benefits of working for the U.S. location of their organization. However, it is important to understand the requirements for each visa as there are significant differences between the two types of multinational transfer program.
In the case of L-1, a United States employer petitions on behalf of their foreign employee of an overseas parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of their company. This employee must have been employed with that parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position prior to coming to the United States. An L-1 worker can come from any foreign country so long as they meet the specific L-1 requirements. In comparison, employees of treaty traders and investors seeking an E-1 or E-2 must be employed in an executive, supervisory, or specialized knowledge position, just as an L-1 would.
For E visas, foreign business owners, business managers, and employees of treaty traders and investors may come to the United States to oversee or work for an enterprise that is engaged in trade with the United States or who have a substantial investment in the United States. This first obvious difference is the requirement that their company be engaged in trade with the United States or that they have substantial investments. This is not a requirement for L-1, since, in order for companies to qualify, they must simply be a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of a United States company. L-1 employees often come to the United States to open up or oversee a branch of their company in the United States. There is no specified requirement for any trade or investment as there is for E-1/E-2.
Another major difference between L-1 and E-1/E-2 are the time limitations for each status. The maximum period of stay for an E-1 or E-2 is much more flexible than the max time period for an L-1. There are two different kinds of L-1 visas: L-1A for executive and managerial transferees and L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge. L-1A visas are issued initially for one year for a new company in the U.S. or three years for a U.S. company which has been in existence for more than one year. Extensions for L-1A beyond the initial period of stay are available in two-year increments for a total stay not to exceed seven years.
By contrast, an E-1 or E-2 status holder is granted an initial period of stay of up to two years. Extensions of stay can be granted by the USCIS for increments of up to 2 years. There is no limit on how many times an E visa holder can extend their stay, so theoretically they could legally remain in the U.S. on E-1 or E-2 status indefinitely.