L1 Visa from US vs. Overseas

Posted on 12月 19, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Where Should I Apply for L Visa, in the U.S. or in South Korea?

In previous articles, we have explained the basic requirements for the investors who want to apply for the L visa. Here, we will address the readers’ concerns regarding whether they should apply for L visa at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea or apply for the change of status after they came to the United States later.

Mr. Kim asked:

I have a business in South Korea and my business is steadily growing.  I have great interest in the U.S. market. I’ve read your articles about the investment in the U.S. and I think I am qualified for the L visa. However, some people have told me that it is very difficult to get an L visa to be approved by the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.  Since it is relatively easy to get a B1/B2 visa in Korea, do you think it would be wise for me to come to the US first with B1/B2 visa, then apply for the change of status in the U.S. to L status?  Or, should I apply directly at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea?

Answer:

Legally, you could either choose to apply for the L visa directly from the US embassy in South Korea or apply for the change status to the L status after arriving in the US with other visas, such as B1/B2 or F1/F2.  It is worth noting that you can only apply for it before the US embassy in South Korea., if you want to apply for the L visa.  Once you come to the United States with other visas, you could only apply for an L status, not an L visa.  The L status will allow you to stay and work legally in the U.S.  However, once you leave the U.S., you have to apply for the L visa again in order for you to be admitted back into the United States.

When you apply for the L visa in South Korea, you are dealing with the U.S. Embassy.  The advantage for you to do so is that once your L visa is approved, you could travel in and out of the United States freely.  That is, once you are issued with an L visa with a multiple entry, you could leave and re-enter the U.S. as many times within the authorized time period without applying for a new visa.  The disadvantage of this would be, however, that once your application is denied, you would not be able to come back to the United States.

On the other hand, if you come to the United States with other visa and then apply for the change of status to L, you are dealing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, not the U.S. embassy or the U.S. Department of State.  In general, the U.S. government does not like foreigners to come to the U.S. with one visa, and then change to other types of visa once they entered into the U.S.  At one time after September 11, 2001, it has been reported that a proposal has been made by the U.S. government to prohibit the foreigners from applying for the change of status to another status after they entered the U.S.  Fortunately, this proposal did not go through.  Nevertheless, if it is confirmed that you came to the United States with another visa with the intention of changing the status to that of L later, your application for the change of status could easily be denied.  The advantage for you to apply for the L status in the U.S. would be that you can stay in the U.S. while you waited for your application for the L status to be approved, since you will be already in the U.S. during as the application is processed.  Whereas, if you applied for the L visa in South Korea, you could not come to the U.S. until it is approved.  Moreover, if you came to the U.S. with another visa, you could still try to apply for the change of status to another status before your status expired in the U.S. even if your application for the change of status to L is denied.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.