USCIS Requirements for Co-working Spaces - How to Qualify

Foreign Entrepreneurs from all over the world are increasingly running their businesses online and no longer require the traditional brick and mortar office spaces. For example, there are great business innovators that operate multi-million dollar distribution businesses using platforms such as eBay and Alibaba which does not require them to have their own warehouse space.

As a result, many foreign entrepreneurs are turning to co-working spaces and community business incubators to register their business in the United States to take advantage of E and L category visas. Unfortunately, many of these entrepreneurs receive push back on their applications from USCIS for non-compliance with the physical office space requirements and are unable to rectify the issues, resulting in the denial of E-2 and L-1 visa applications.

Here are some of the requirements that USCIS requires in circumstances when the E-2 or L-1 applicant desires to use co-working arrangements for the physical office space requirement:

1. A complete copy of co-working agreement lease, signed and dated by both the lessor and the lessee. The agreement should indicate the total square footage of the premises. The agreement should explain the type of building the U.S. subsidiary is occupying, such as an office suite, factory, warehouse, apartment, house, etc.

2. A statement defining the purpose of the U.S. subsidiary. For example, the statement can describe the purpose of the space as a sales office, representative agency, distributorship, etc.

3. The E-2 or L-1 Visa application should include information on why the co-working space is sufficient for the business function of the beneficiary.

4. A letter from the owner of the premises confirming the property owner allows the co-working company to sublease to the U.S. subsidiary (if the co-working company does not own the building).

5. A copy of the agreement between the owner and the original lessee permitting the sublease of the space, if applicable.

6. Color photos of the U.S. entity's premises. We recommend that photos show the inside and outside of all factory, production, warehouse, and office spaces. Equipment, merchandise, products and employees should be visible.

7. Evidence of payments being made on the sublease. Prepaid rent is appropriate.

Our law firm is well versed on clearly articulating the appropriateness of co-working space to USCIS for our L-1 and E-2 clients. In addition, we have relationships with co-working space providers that comply with USCIS requirements. For more information, please give our office a-call at (704) 741-9002.