L1 Visa Investment Amount & Processing Time

Posted on August 29, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Required Investment Amount and Processing Time

Mr. Zhang asked:

I am planning to invest in the U.S.  I’ve read your articles on the L visa.  You mentioned that it is easy for foreign companies without existing branches or subsidiaries in the U.S. to establish one. You also mentioned that as long as the new branch is established for the purpose of doing business, there is no requirement for the minimum amount of investment. Does this mean that I can invest any amount in any area of business in the U.S.? Furthermore, I am currently in the manufacturing business in China.  Does this mean I am required by the law to do the same business in the U.S.? Additionally, you’ve mentioned that if petitioner requested the premium processing service, it could be completed in 15 days. Does that mean I can get my visa in 15 days with this procedure?


According to the U.S. law regarding incorporation, there is no special requirement regarding the nationality of the investor, the business scope or the working capital. Also, as long as the new branch is established for the purpose of doing a real business, there is no requirement for the minimum investment amount.  This is one clear advantage the L visa has over the EB-5 visa, which requires a minimum investment of one million dollars.  In your case, if the investment is for developing your business, you can establish branches or subsidiaries in the U.S. without the requirement for the minimum amount of investment. The actual, exact amount of the investment will depend on your business plan. Take an investment in Atlanta for example: if you wanted to invest in an ice-cream shop, $10,000 may be enough; if you wanted to establish a restaurant, you may need more than $200,000; and, if you wanted to deal with a high-tech business, you may need to invest much more.

Moreover, the U.S. immigration law has no special requirements regarding the business areas you can invest in. You may invest in the same field as your current business or in a field that is completely different.  For someone like you who is not familiar with the U.S. market, you may prefer to invest initially in the business field which you are familiar with.  Since you are an expert in the manufacturing field, you may be able to minimize the risk of failure.  Moreover, if you wanted to apply for a green card with an L-1 status in the future, the success of your business would be the key to your green card application.  You will have a higher chance of being successful if you have a business in the field in which you have the expertise.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that you cannot invest in a new business filed when you apply for the L visa. We actually have a lot of clients who come to the U.S. to do business in the fields that they had no prior experience in.  They have invested in restaurants, laundry shops, hotels and other businesses. They have done very well and have been successful in getting their green cards as well.

Generally speaking, if an investor comes to the U.S. to do business in a field that he or she has no experience, he or she would need to be more cautious and try harder to find good partners and employees who can help the business.

Finally, I have mentioned in previous articles that an L-1 petition could be approved within 15 days through the premium processing service. The 15 days here refers to the time it takes the USCIS to process an L visa petition. It does not mean that the U.S. embassy or the consulate office will issue an L-1 visa to the investor in 15 days.  Normally, the time from the filing of the L-1 petition to the issuance of the visa by the U.S. embassy or the consulate office could take anywhere between 3 to 6 months.

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.