Employment Based Visas

We serve an extensive and diverse client base, including large multinational corporations, universities, hospitals, entertainers, and small businesses. Our clients rely on creative solutions and leading expertise to meet their unique employment related immigration needs. We provide thorough analysis and strategic planning to achieve the relocation of international personnel. Furthermore, we assist businesses with regulatory compliance efforts in an ever-changing legal framework. Our experienced attorneys provide continuing support to navigate the immigration landscape.

The basic requirement for a H-1B visa is a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and a job offer which requires the degree. The visa petition is filed by the U.S. employer and the work authorization is specific to the employer.

It is necessary to obtain an approved labor condition attestation from the Department of Labor prior to filing the petition with the Immigration Service. This is required to ensure that the wages and working conditions do not undermine those for U.S. workers. The H-1B visa may be approved for up to three years, and it can be extended for a total of six years. If an application for permanent residency is submitted at least one year prior to the end of the sixth year, additional yearly extensions may be granted. Spouses and minor children are eligible for H-4 dependent status. H4 spouses may be granted employment authorization in certain situations. Proper planning and strategy can maximize the benefits of an H-1B visa.

The Free-Trade Agreement H-1B1 visa is available to professionals from Chile and Singapore. There are 1,400 H-1B1 visas for Chileans and 5,400 H-1B1 visas set aside for Singaporeans. The H-1B1 visa allows applicants to apply directly at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, without the need to file a petition with USCIS first. Free-Trade Agreement H-1B1 visas are issued for 18 months and are renewable. Spouses and minor children are eligible for H-4 dependent status, which does not grant employment authorization.

Similar to the H-1B visa requirements, applicants must have at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and a job offer which requires the degree.

Nationals of many countries are eligible to obtain Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor visas. The E-1 Treaty Trader visa requires that at least 51 percent of the company’s trade be between the treaty country and the U.S. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa requires a substantial investment in a U.S. business which must be controlled by treaty nationals. No fixed amount is required, and the definition of “substantial” varies depending on the nature of the business. E visas may also be issued by managers, executives and essential employees of the same nationality who work for the U.S. branch office. The visas may, depending on each treaty, be granted for an initial period of up to five years. However, the person’s stay is authorized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in two-year increments granted upon each entry to the United States. The easiest way to extend E status while the visa is valid is to travel abroad and re-enter. This can only be done during the validity of the visa. The E visa can be extended as long as there is a need for the investor to direct and control the U.S. enterprise. Essential employee E visas are expected to be replaced by U.S. trained personnel.

Spouses of E visa holders are allowed to request work authorization.

A list of countries with qualifying treaties is published by the Department of State.

The E-3 visa is for Australian professionals coming to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation, i.e., an occupation that requires a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum for entry into that occupation. The H-1B regulations are used as a basis to determine what constitutes a “specialty occupation.” The E-3 visa is issued for an initial period of two years and may be extended in two-year increments. The E-3 is limited to 10,500 visas per year. Spouses of E-3 visa holders are also allowed to obtain work authorization.

The North American Free Trade Agreement provides for work visas for certain Canadian and Mexican professionals with U.S. job offers. The TN visa is issued for three years and can be renewed. Spouses and minor children are eligible for TD (Treaty Dependent) visas, which do not allow employment authorization. The TN visa can be a flexible alternative option as there are no annual quota restrictions and Canadian citizens may apply directly at a port of entry. For cases that require additional handling, we offer leading expertise of application procedures and strategies when applying at the Canadian border.

The L-1 intracompany transferee visa is available to managers, executives and persons holding specialized knowledge who own or are employed by a business abroad. If the company has a U.S. branch office or affiliate, and the two companies have a common ownership relationship, it is possible to obtain an L-1 intracompany transferee visa. The maximum period of admission for managers and executives is seven years, with a five-year limit for the specialized knowledge category.

If the U.S. branch office is new, the L-1 will be approved only for one year. Extensions require proof of employees and substantial business activity. Large sales revenue, as well as several layers of employees, are key to securing the extension. If the extension is obtained, and the overseas company continues to operate, it is usually possible to apply for permanent resident status as a first preference multinational manager. Large, multinational companies may be eligible for Blanket L-1 status which streamlines the transfer of L-1 managers or specialized knowledge professionals.

Spouses of L-1 visa holders are also allowed to obtain work authorization.

O-1 visas are available to applicants of “extraordinary ability” in the fields of sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. This category is broad and can be appropriate for such diverse applicants as cutting-edge scientific researchers, visionary corporate executives, tennis pros and even relationship experts. The category is divided into three main classifications:

  • O-1A (Business, Education, Science, Athletics): Extraordinary ability demonstrated by a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
  • O-1B (Arts): “Distinction” – Extraordinary ability demonstrated by a high level of achievement in the field as evidenced by a degree of skill & recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.
  • O-1B (Film/TV): Extraordinary achievement demonstrated by a very high level of accomplishment evidenced by a degree of skill/recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered.

Those individuals who qualify for the O-1 visa can sometimes also meet the higher legal standard for the corresponding immigrant/green card classification, the EB-1 (extraordinary ability).

Corporate Immigration And Compliance Services

The corporate immigration attorneys of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP assist U.S. employers of all sizes to develop comprehensive and customized immigration compliance programs. We provide advice and counsel to employers regarding I-9 and E-Verify issues, government site visits and immigration audits, and the specific immigration consequences of changes in corporate structure.

As the immigration debate continues, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to carry out massive enforcement efforts directed at U.S. employers. The focus on enforcement is clearly evidenced by the rising number of high profile worksite raids, audits, and investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), and the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS). This has resulted in significantly increased administrative and civil penalties and criminal prosecutions resulting from worksite violations. U.S. employers should take steps to ensure that their “house” is in order as the government has made it clear that it intends to come “knocking at the door.”

Our corporate immigration attorneys assist U.S. employers nationwide by conducting internal audits to identify immigration violations, minimize the potential liability for past violations, as well as provide training and development programs to avoid future problems. Our corporate immigration attorneys also zealously represent U.S. employers during and after government audits and investigations.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits employers from knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers. All U.S. employers are responsible for verifying, through a specific process, the identity and work authorization eligibility of all individuals, whether U.S. citizens or otherwise. To comply with the law, employers are required to complete an Employment Verification Form I-9 for all new employees hired after November 6, 1986.

E-Verify is a free, internet-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-Verify electronically compares information contained on the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 with records contained in SSA and DHS databases to assist employers in verifying the identity and employment eligibility of newly-hired employees. Some states, municipalities and federal contracts require U.S. employers to utilize E-Verify.

Mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring present special challenges for U.S. employers intending to retain key foreign workers who hold various nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L-1, E-1, E-2, E-3, TN, O-1, and F-1 STEM OPT), or are in the process of obtaining U.S. permanent residence. Different notification and amendment rules apply to different visa classifications and corporate changes. We assist employers in devising due diligence procedures to address immigration related consequences of corporate reorganizations, consolidations, etc. Whether your company is undergoing an acquisition, merger, asset purchase, or spin-off, and whether your company employs one or many immigrant and/or nonimmigrant workers, our experienced attorneys work with you throughout the process to ensure the smoothest transition possible.