EMPLOYMENT VISAS

Many foreign nationals seek out temporary work visas that allow them to be employed by a company for a specific amount of time. Any foreign nationals who want to apply for a temporary work visa must first have their potential employer file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Numerous temporary work visas exist, and sorting through the categories and requirements may be difficult. It can be a wise idea to seek out aid from an immigration attorney. Anaheim Immigration Attorney Fady Eskandar can help you file and process your work visa application. Contact our offices today for a free consultation about your case!

H-1B Visas for Professional Workers in Specialty Occupations

Temporary workers who are seeking employment in a specialty occupation can apply for an H-1B visa. Specialty occupations are defined by U.S. immigration law as those occupations which require practical and theoretical applications of highly specialized knowledge in fields of human endeavor. Some examples of these fields are engineering, architecture, mathematics, social sciences, physical sciences, medicine and health, law, education, business specialties, accounting, the arts, and theology. Individuals who wish to apply for the H-1B visa are required to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning or an equivalent foreign degree. They also need an unrestricted state license, certificate, or registration that will give them the authority to practice their specialty occupation.

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, but it’s also a visa of dual intent, meaning the holder may seek out a means to attain permanent residency while they stay as non-immigrants in the United States. Obtaining permanent residency can sometimes take years, so the H-1B visa allows the holder to stay in the U.S. in the meantime. H-1B visas can be renewed in 1 or 3-year increments. It’s important to file for the H-1B properly the first time, as the number of visas issued annually is capped and there is a limited application window. Any mistakes on the application may cause a delay due to rejection, which could keep you from resubmitting the application during the annual open application window. As an example of how an early application can help, the 65,000 H-1B visa cap in Fiscal Year 2014 was reached within the first week of the filing period, ending in April of that year.

H-1B visa holders are allowed to have their spouse and unmarried minor children accompany them to the United States under an H-4 visa. Those holding an H-4 visa are permitted to study in the United States, but may not work.

H-2B Temporary Workers

U.S. employers who meet certain criteria may bring foreign workers to the United States for temporary, non-agricultural positions using an H-2B visa. These visas may only be issued if not enough U.S. workers are available to fill the job positions. Whether the job is described as permanent or temporary, the need for foreign employees must be temporary, based on the point of view of the employer. The labor need should be for no longer than a year and should be either a seasonal need, a one-time occurrence, an occasional or non-recurring need, or a peak-load need. Before an H-2B visa can be issued, the Department of Labor must grant a temporary labor certification.

Foreign workers entering the U.S. with an H-2B visa may bring a spouse or unmarried minor children to accompany them by obtaining an H-4 visa. Those who hold H-4 visas cannot work in the U.S., but they may study while within the United States.

L-1 Visas for Intra-Company Transferees

Under an L-1A visa, U.S. companies may transfer executive or managerial employees from an affiliated foreign branch or office to an office located in the United States. It also allows foreign companies without an office in the U.S. to send an executive or manager to establish a U.S. branch or office of the same company. This is a nonimmigrant visa classification.

With an L-1B visa, professional employees that have specialized knowledge relating to the company’s interests may be transferred from an affiliated foreign office to a U.S. office. Foreign companies may also send employees with specialized knowledge to the United States to establish an office if no such U.S. office exists yet. This is a nonimmigrant visa classification.

Employees coming to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing a U.S. branch or office of a foreign affiliate company may stay for a maximum of one year initially. Other transferred employees may stay for a maximum of three years initially. L-1A visa holding employees can apply for extensions of up to two years at a time, with a maximum of seven years total time spent in the U.S. under that L-1A visa. L-1B visa holders may apply for extensions in increments up to two years, with a maximum stay of five years total under their L-1B visa.

Qualifying organizations may apply for one of two types of L-1 visas: Individual L-1 visas or Blanket L-1 visas. Individual L-1 visa petitions are filed to the USCIS by the employer on behalf of a specific individual in their company, while Blanket L-1 visas filed to the USCIS are a blanket petition for all eligible employees within the organization. Blanket L-1 visas allow a company more flexibility for quick transfers because they will only be required to file a shortened L-petition for each specific employee along with a notice of the blanket petition approval and any supporting documents.

L-visa holders may have their spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age accompany them to the United States with an L-2 visa. Under the L-2 visa, spouses may seek to be authorized for work while staying in the U.S.

O-Visas for Persons with Extraordinary Ability, Cultural Exchange Visitors

O-1 visas are temporary work visas offered to foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the arts, business, sciences, education, or athletics. Proof of sustained international or national acclaim must be shown with the application, as well as evidence that the applicant’s intent is to temporarily work in the United States in their area of ability. Some O-1 visas are also available to foreign nationals that demonstrate extraordinary ability in motion picture or television industries.

Under the O-2 visa, essential support staff for an O-1 visa holder may be allowed to temporarily enter the U.S. in order to work with the O-1 visa holder. O-2 visa holders must provide assistance for specific artistic or athletic events or for television or motion pictures productions. O-1 visa holders for science, education, or business are not eligible to have accompanying O-2 visa holder assistants. In order to be granted an O-2 visa, the applicant must provide evidence that they are an essential component in the O-1 visa holder’s performance and events, and that the skills the O-2 visa holder possesses are critical to the O-1 visa holder and not possessed by the O-1 visa holder or anyone else. For television and film production, the O-2 visa applicant and the O-1 visa holder must have a long working relationship that is vital to the completion of a production based inside and outside of the U.S.

O-1 and O-2 visa holders may apply to bring their spouse and dependent children to the U.S. under an O-3 visa. O-3 visa holders are allowed to engage in part-time or full-time studies in the United States, but may not apply for work.

P-Visas for Performing Artists and Athletes

P-visas are intended for athletes and performing artists or entertainers to temporarily work within the United States. They are nonimmigrant visas. Four categories of P-visas exist.

P-1 visas are for eligible athletes, artists, or entertainers who are intending to come to the U.S. for a specified event, performance, or competition. Performances should be at an internationally recognized level, and competitions may be team or individual events. Performers who are members of an entertainment group may also be eligible to come and perform in the United States with a P-1 visa if their specific entertainment group is recognized internationally as being outstanding in at least one particular area since the individual applicant has been part of the group. The applicant must also have been a substantial part of the group for a significant amount of time, usually at least one year.

P-2 visas are intended for entertainers and artists who will come to the U.S. temporarily for government recognized reciprocal exchange programs. Programs should be those arranged between an organization in one or more foreign countries and an organization in the United States.

P-3 visas are for entertainers and artists that wish to enter the U.S. temporarily to perform, coach, or teach through a culturally unique program.

P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa holders may apply for P-4 visas for their spouse and unmarried minor children to accompany them temporarily to the United States. P-4 visa holders are not authorized to work in the U.S., but they may study part-time or full-time.

R-1 Visas for Religious Workers

The R category Religious Worker visas are available for foreign nationals who intend to go to the United States for temporary religious work. Holders are able to stay within the U.S. for a maximum of five years. Examples of eligible religious workers include those who are active in ministerial activities, as well as individuals working in religious vocations for or at the request of a religious denomination with a bona fide nonprofit religious organization based within the United States. All applicants for an R-visa must have had membership in the relevant denomination at least two consecutive years before applying for religious worker status.

Religious workers include ministers of religion who have been authorized by recognized denominations to lead religious ceremonies or perform the duties of a clergy member. Religious vocations are those which come from a calling to a committed religious lifestyle and can be demonstrated by lifelong commitments by the applicant in question. An example of such a commitment is taking vows. A few examples of religious vocations include monks, nuns, or religious sisters or brothers. Religious occupations are those which primarily involve religious duties and functions, and which are recognized as practicing of beliefs and the religious creed of a specific denomination. Administrative and support positions such as maintenance workers, janitors, fund raisers, clerks, or solicitors of donations are usually not included in this visa category. Lay preachers and other individuals not authorized to conduct religious clergy duties are not eligible for religious worker visas.

R-2 visas may be granted to spouses and unmarried minor children of R-1 visa holders. Beneficiaries of an R-2 visa may not work in the U.S., but they may pursue part-time or full-time studies.

Because of the wide variety of temporary work visas available, and the complexity of the application processes for each one, it is wise to enlist the help of an immigration attorney when you want to obtain a temporary work visa. Fady Eskandar, an Immigration Attorney in Anaheim, has a wide understanding of the U.S. immigration system and can help you apply for your temporary work visa from start to finish. Contact our offices today for a free consultation about your case.

BUSINESS VISAS

E-1/E-2 Treaty and Investor Visas

U.S. immigration law allows traders, investors, and their employees to apply for visas that allow them to engage in substantial trade activities between eligible treaty countries and the United States. Investor visas may be granted to allow individuals to manage or develop an enterprise which they have invested in, or that they are currently investing substantial capital into.

You can view a current list of eligible treaty countries here.

E category visas are generally granted for between two and five years, dependent on the trade that is set to happen during that time period or the amount of intended investment. E-visas may be renewed for as long as the individual maintains their position with a qualifying company or organization.

Derivative E-visas are available for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to accompany an E-visa holder to the United States. Spouses of E-visa holders may apply for authorization to work within the United States, but dependent children may not work. Dependent children may apply for authorization to study in the United States using an F-1 visa.

E-1 Trader Visa Requirements

Applicants for an E-1 visa should be nationals of treaty countries and should be part of a trading organization that shares the nationality of the same treaty country. Trade must be recognized as “substantial” from the organization, meaning that the volume should be sizable and multiple transactions should be involved over time.

Trade from the organization should primarily take place between the treaty country and the United States. To be eligible, more than 50% of all international trade by the organization should be between the country of the applicant’s nationality and the United States.

Applicants must also be employed in executive, managerial, or supervisory roles or must have specialized skills essential to the firm’s efficient operations. Ordinary unskilled or skilled workers cannot qualify for an E-1 trader visa.

E-2 Investor Visa Requirements

Foreign nationals from countries with an existing treaty of commerce with the U.S., and who have invested substantial amounts of capital into a U.S. business may apply for an E-2 investor visa. Some specific employees working for the original E-2 applicant or the qualifying organization may also be eligible for an E-2 visa, such as employees with specialized knowledge or high-level managers.

Eligibility for an E-2 visa depends on the applicant having previously invested substantial amounts of capital into a United States enterprise, or being in the process of investing substantial capital into a U.S. enterprise. No specific dollar amount is given to define a substantial amount of capital. Substantial investments are those which are significant when related to the total cost of establishing the new enterprise or purchasing the enterprise, demonstrate the applicant’s long-term commitment to the enterprise, or include such large amounts that it’s highly likely the applicant will be developing and directing the enterprise.

All applicants must be coming to the United States with the intent to develop or direct the enterprise into which they are invested. Eligibility for this requirement can be demonstrated by showing the applicant has at least 50% ownership in the enterprise, or that a high-level management or corporate position which indicates operational control is held by the applicant.

Before the individual can apply for an E-2 visa, they must initiate the process of starting their business. If purchasing an existing business, the individual will need to submit documents of purchase with the visa application as evidence.

E-3 Australians in Specialty Occupations

Australian nationals may receive E-3 visas to work in certain specialty positions within the United States. All applicants should be intending to fill a qualified special occupation position, should have a legitimate employment offer from a U.S. company, and should possess all necessary academic and nonacademic credentials to meet the job requirements.

E-3 visas are classified as nonimmigrant visas, but they may be renewed in increments of two years indefinitely. Applicants should be able to demonstrate their intent to return to Australia once they have finished their E-3 visa work. Unlike H-1B visa holders who may apply for Lawful Permanent Residency, E-3 visa holders are unable to apply to become a permanent resident in the U.S. Spouses of E-3 visa holders can accompany the primary beneficiary and may work without limits in the United States. There is no quota or cap on spouses and children allowed to be issued derivative visas from a primary E-3 visa holder, and the spouses and children do not have to hold Australian citizenship.