L1 Visas States to Apply From

Posted on December 20, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Could Filing L-1 Application in Different States Speed Up the Process?

Mr. Liang asked:

I have been in the manufacturing business for almost 10 years in China (Korea).  My business is expanding very fast.  I am planning to open a new office in the US and develop this market.  One of my business partners in California has invited me to visit his company in the US.  My B1 visa has been approved, and I will come to the US next month.  My friends have told me that I can file an L1 application after I enter the US.  They have also told me that I can choose to file my L1 application in different states because some states have better approval rates for L1 applications than others.  I would like to know whether it really is easier to get an approval if I file the L1 application in the US.  Moreover, is it true that if I file an L1 application in different states this could increase the chances of getting my application approved?  If it is true, which state would be better for the L1 application?


Most of foreign investors who want to invest in the US and apply for an L1 visa seem to have the same question.  According to the immigration act and based on our experience, the USCIS mainly considers the capability of investor’s company and the business the individual is going to invest in as it processes the L1 application.  The approval of an L1 application is not decided by which state it is filed from.  Normally, if an investor’s company is well established and willing to invest in the US, it may be easier for the investor to prepare the materials for the L1 application.  It will also help get the application approved if the petitioner has a good business plan and marketing strategy for the US market.

Will it be easier to get approved if an investor files an L1 application in the US rather than filing the application outside the US?  If an investor files an L1 application in the US, the investor can change his status from his/her current non-immigrant status to L1 status in the US after the L1 application has been approved by the USCIS.  The investor does not need to go through the local embassy process.  If an investor files an L1 application outside the US, the investor needs to go through one more step in addition to the USCIS filing.  Normally, the USCIS will transfer the approved L1 application to local US embassy, who will issue an L1 visa to the investor.  Therefore, the investor will need to have a visa interview with the local US embassy.  Sometimes, the US embassy will deny the L1 visa application although the L1 application has been approved by the USCIS.  This could be one of the reasons for why some investors mention that it is easier to get an L1 application approved in the US.  However, in most of cases, if the investor’s company has enough capability and the investor has prepared the application and all required documents well (including a detailed business plan), the application for the L1 visa is more likely to be approved.

For foreign investment, some states in the US do have special policy in order to attract more foreign investors to particular industries.  However, it does not mean that an L1 application will be approved more easily.  All L1 applications are handled by the USCIS.  There are four different USCIS service centers for handling immigration cases in the US.  Each service center has its own jurisdiction.  Normally, the processing time may be a little different depending on which state the investor filed his L1 application in.  This is because the processing time for each USCIS service center is different.  All USCIS service centers have the same requirements and standards for L1 applications, no matter where you file your application in.  Therefore, filing an L1 application in different state may have nothing to do with the approval of your L1 applications.

In your case, filing an L1 application in the US may help you reduce the processing time for your visa since it will not be necessary for you to go through the US embassy filing.  However, you will still need to meet all the qualification for an L1 application.  It should be noted that filing your application in the US does not mean that your L1 application will be easily approved by this factor alone.  Whether your L1 application is approved or not will depend on your investment and your company’s capability.

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.