Corporate Corner: Non-Immigrant Visa Options for Employees

Corporate Corner: Non-Immigrant Visa Options for Employees

July 30, 2019

Since there are long waiting lines for most permanent visa categories, temporary nonimmigrant visas are generally faster and easier to obtain and are required to visit, study, work, or invest in the United States. In many cases, nonimmigrant visas for work in the United States are employer-specific—one can only work for the company that petitions or sponsors the foreign national.

Below are highlights of some nonimmigrant visa options for foreign nationals seeking employment in the United States. Processing times may vary from the typical ranges stated below as of publication. Contact your WR attorney for help with specific cases. Current wait times and other information is available from the Department of State’s U.S. Visas page.

 

B-1 Visitor for Business

A B-1 visa may be used for participation in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States; for example, consulting with business associates; traveling for a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention; settling an estate; negotiating a contract; participating in short-term training; transiting through the United States; or entering as “deadhead” air crewmen.

Duration of Visa: Up to 10 years but varies depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Initial period of stay: 1 to 6 months, with extensions of up to 6 months possible. Maximum total amount of time permitted in B-1 status on any one trip is generally 1 year.

Processing time: Generally,  1-2 months but longer for some countries. Details: USCIS webpage, B-1 Temporary Business Visitor, for more information on eligibility, requirements, and the application process. Department of State’s webpage, Treaty Countries, for the list of included countries; Business Visa Center for the Department of State’s information on B-1 visas.

 

E-1 Treaty Trader

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. A designated employer is not required. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 5 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Maximum initial stay of 2 years, with extensions in increments of up to 2 years each possible. No maximum limit on the number of extensions, but E-1 nonimmigrants must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

Processing time: About 3-6 months. (Varies depending on consular post).

Details: USCIS webpage, E-1 Treaty Traders, for more information on eligibility, requirements, and the application process. Department of State’s webpage, Treaty Trader & Investor Visas.

 

E-2 Treaty Investor

The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 5 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Maximum initial stay of 2 years, with extensions in increments of up to 2 years each possible. No maximum limit on the number of extensions, but E-2 nonimmigrants must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

Processing time: About 3-6 months. (Varies depending on consular post).Details: USCIS webpage, E-2 Treaty Investors, for more information on eligibility, requirements, and the application process. Department of State’s webpage, Treaty Trader & Investor Visas.

 

E-3 Visa for Australian Professionals

The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States. An E-3 visa requires a legitimate offer of employment in the United States.

Duration of Visa: Varies depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Initial period of stay of 2 years, with extensions in increments of up to 2 years. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.

Processing time: About a week, if applying from inside Australia. See the Department of State’s U.S. Visas page for more information on processing times elsewhere.

Details: USCIS webpage, E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia.

 

ESTA

Eligible nationals of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries can travel to the United States without a visa but must obtain an approved advance travel authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Duration of Authorized Stay: Generally, 2 years, or whenever the passport expires. Intended for visitors whose travel is for 90 days or fewer.

Processing time: According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, citizens of participating VWP countries traveling to the United States are “strongly encouraged” to apply for an ESTA at the time of booking their trip and no later than 72 hours before departure.

Details: Information about ESTA; eligibility; the VWP; ESTA application and related information; list of participating VWP countries.

 

F-1 Student (or M-1 Vocational Student) Visa

Foreign academic or vocational students may be allowed to work in the United States under certain circumstances. Depending on the type of student and type of employment, the student will be issued different documents that show employment authorization.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 5 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: An F-1 student may remain in the United States up to 60 days after he or she completes the academic program. An M-1 student may remain in the United States up to 1 year, or as long as he or she is enrolled as a full-time student in the vocational program plus 30 days to depart.

Processing time: About 5 to 6 weeks for an F-1 visa; at least a month for an M-1 visa.

Details: USCIS webpage with information on eligibility, requirements, and types of work permitted, Foreign Academic Students; Student and Exchange Visitor Program information on institutions where M-1 students are accepted.

 

H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa for Professional Workers

This visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation. The prospective employer must file a Labor Condition Application with the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Note: The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit “cap” of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization, are not subject to this numerical cap.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 3 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Up to 3 years, with extensions possible, normally up to 6 years with  exceptions.

Processing time: About 3 months to 1 year.

Details: USCIS webpage, H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models

 

H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement Visa for Professionals from Chile and Singapore

The H-1B1 is a variation of the H-1B visa under free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore that has many of the same requirements. An employer may sponsor a worker applying directly at a U.S. embassy or consular post.

Duration of Visa: 18 months. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: 1 year, with two extensions in 1-year increments possible. Further extensions can be obtained only with the filing of a new Labor Condition Application.

Processing time: May vary from post to post; generally, 4 to 6 months. Premium processing is not available for the H-1B1 visa.

Details: USCIS webpage, Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers (scroll down to H-1B and H11B1); Department of Labor (Wage & Hour Division) webpage, H-1B1 Program.

 

H-3 Trainee Visa

The H-3 nonimmigrant visa category allows foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States as a:

  • Trainee to receive training in any field of endeavor, other than graduate medical education or training, that is not available in the foreign national’s home country; or

Special Education Exchange Visitor to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 5 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: For trainees, up to 2 years. For special education exchange visitor trainees, up to 18 months.

Processing time: About 2 to 5 months.

Details: USCIS webpage, H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor

 

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training. J-1 nonimmigrants are sponsored by an exchange program as designated by the Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and science.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 5 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Until 30 days after the end of the program, as specified.

Processing time: About 2 months.

Details: USCIS webpage, Exchange Visitors; Department of State webpage, Exchange Visitor Program; Designated Sponsor Organizations

 

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 5 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Maximum initial stay of 1 year to establish a new office. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of 3 years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional 2 years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of 7 years.

Processing time: About 2-3 months, or longer depending on the consulate.

Details: USCIS webpage, L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

 

 O Visa for Persons of Extraordinary Ability in Certain Fields

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

Duration of Visa: Varies up to 3 years depending on each country’s reciprocity schedule. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country.html

Duration of Authorized Stay: Up to 3 years. USCIS will determine the time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to 1 year.

Processing time: About 2 to 3 months.

Details: USCIS webpage, O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

 

 TN NAFTA Visa for Canadians and Mexicans

The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level. TN nonimmigrants may include accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.

Duration of Authorized Stay: Up to 3 years.

Processing Time: About 6 months.

Details: USCIS webpage, TN NAFTA Professionals

 

 Visa Waiver Program

See ESTA, above, for details and links.

By | 2019-08-16T18:58:33+00:00 July 30th, 2019|Blog, Corporate Corner, Corporate Immigratoin, E-2, Employment Based Immigration, H-1B Visas, Uncategorized, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal|Comments Off on Corporate Corner: Non-Immigrant Visa Options for Employees

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