Non-Immigrant Employment Visas
Foreign Nationals seeking to work in the United States on a temporary basis have a wide range of options depending on a number of circumstances. Below are brief overviews of many of the more common non-immigrant employment visas with which we may assist you. Also, depending on which visa category you may qualify for, you may be able to move from a temporary residence in the United States to that of a U.S. legal permanent resident.
Specialty Occupations (H-1B)
This Visa is granted to Foreign Nationals seeking employment in the U.S. in a “specialty occupation” i.e. one who is working within a field requiring a highly specialized body of knowledge as well as possessing at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or a higher degree within their specialized field. This visa is also presently granted to fashion models with “distinguished merit and ability.” Generally this visa is granted for up to three years with the possibility of extensions for a total of six years as well as a possible path to legal permanent residence. Only 85,000 H-1B visas are available each fiscal year: 65,000 under the regular H-1B cap and 20,000 under the Master’s H-1B cap. The regular H-1B cap includes all applicants with a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The Master’s H-1B cap includes only applicants who have obtained their Master’s Degrees from a U.S. institution. The H-1B is a petition based visa and will require a filing with The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”).
Intra-company Transferee (L-1)
The L-1 visa is for managers, executives or individuals with specialized company knowledge who have worked for a multinational company outside of the U.S. for at least one of the past three years. Those who qualify for this visa may be granted a visa for up to three years with the ability to obtain extensions up until the maximum of seven aggregate years in the U.S. has been reached. The L-1 is a petition based visa.
Extraordinary Ability (O-1)
A Foreign National who has distinguished themselves within the fields of science, art, education, business or athletics and has found an agent or employer who desires their services in the U.S. may be eligible. This Visa is can be granted for up to three years but there is no limit on the possible number of extensions nor is there any limit upon the number of years the Foreign National may stay in the U.S in an O-1 capacity. The O-1 is a petition based visa.
Performing Artists, Entertainers, and Athletes (P)
This visa is for those artists, athletes or entertainers who together as a group or as an individual who is a part of a performing group, have distinguished themselves and through an agent, employer or cultural exchange program (for example) seek to perform in the United States. Generally, a P Visa may be granted for up to five years with the possibility of further extensions. The P-1 is a petition based visa.
NAFTA Treaty National Temporary Entry Visa (TN)
The NAFTA Treaty National (TN) Temporary Entry Visa is generally granted to Canadian and Mexican Foreign Nationals in the professional fields, business visitors, traders and investors and intra-company transferee employees. These visas are usually granted for a time period of up to one year and may be eligible for one year extensions thereafter. The TN does not require a petition filing with USCIS. Mexican applicants can apply directly for the TN visa at a US consulate in Mexico and Canadian applicants can apply for their visas with Customs and Border Protection upon entry to the United States.
Religious Worker (R-1)
A Religious Worker visa may be granted to those Foreign Nationals seeking to enter the U.S. to undertake a religious occupation or vocation for a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the U.S. The Foreign National must have been a member of the religious denomination for at least 2 years prior to admission. These Visas are generally granted for up to three years with a possible extension of an additional two years. The R-1 is a petition based visa and will require a visit to the religious organization by a Department of Homeland Security representative.