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A Guide to US Business and Work Visas

The United States is known to be a popular destination for immigrants from all over the world, seeking  prosperous business opportunities, work and employment possibilities, investments and much more on  a yearly basis. Which leaves the US constantly processing large amounts of immigrant and non immigrant visa applications therefore having one of the most complex visa systems in the world and  making the approval requirements very strict.

On that account, if you are planning to travel to the  United States, for business and work-related reasons it is fundamental that you choose the correct and  appropriate visa to apply for. Which means that knowing the exact type of visa needed in addition to  appropriately filing your application, will be less time consuming and will certainly increase your  chances of getting an approval. Which is why we aimed at gathering the most important things you  must know when it comes to U.S business and work visas in this simplified guide. Keep reading and  find out more! 

Related Read: How to Get Dressed at the American Consulate for a Visa Interview

glasses and passport on top of a map

1. Most popular types of U.S business and work visas 

Since the United States has one of the most complicated visa systems in the world, and due to the very  large number of visa options, it can be hard to find the right one for you! The first thing to know is that  U.S work visas are divided into two main categories which are the temporary non-immigrant work  visas and the employment based immigrant visas (Green Cards) which allow their holders to obtain  lawful permanent residence in the United States. Check out employment based immigration for more  details! 

That being said, the most popular and commonly used work related visas are the following:

∙ The E-2 treaty investor: which is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign investors to  develop their business that either falls into the category of trade or investment activities in the  United States if their country is among those who have a Treaty of Commerce and Trade with  the U.S. 

∙ L-1A and L-1B intracompany transfer: The L-1A visa concerns transferees who work in  executive or managerial positions within a company located outside the United States. While  the L-1B visa is for those who occupy work positions that requires core competency.  Both L-1A and L-1B are non-immigrant visas issued when the employer files for a petition to  bring qualified and skilled employees to work and live in the United States. You can check  U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services official website for more details! 

∙ B-1 in lieu of H-1B: which is a rare subset of the B-1 business visa category that allows a  foreign employee to work in the United States for a short period. 

∙ H-1B visa: which is also a non-immigrant visa type that allows U.S companies and employers  to hire foreign employees who have special theoretical and practical skills and highly  specialized knowledge to work temporarily for them. 

∙ EB1-C visa: which remains the best choice for international executives and managers who  seek employment based immigration.  

2. U.S immigration guide for employers 

The L-1 visa used to transfer staff who have been employed for at least 3 years in an affiliated or  subsidiary company outside the U.S to a new existing office in the U.S. 

Visa types that are mostly used by employers; who either wish to establish their business in the U.S, or  already have a trading presence within U.S or want to bring employees through work visas are the  following: 

∙ E-2 Treaty investor also known as the visa for investors and employees, allows the investor  to work and live in the U.S in order to develop his business and also allows the entry of  executive, management and essential skills employees that are also nationals of the same E2  visa country as the investor may also qualify for an E2 visa. 

∙ H-1B visa allows the employment of graduate level workers in specialty occupations  requiring theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as: IT, accounting, finance, architecture, mathematics, engineering, science, medicine, etc. 

Those are usually the best ways to follow when it comes down to employing people from outside the  U.S because employment based visa categories (green cards) will generally take too long. In most  cases, before submitting a petition to bring a foreign employee to the U.S, the employer has to obtain a  permanent labor certification from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training  Administration. Which certifies to the USCIS that there are no U.S workers able, willing, qualified  and available to occupy that particular job position therefore allowing the employment of a foreigner  as long as it will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of other U.S worker employed  in similar positions. Check out Overview of PERM Process (Obtaining Labor Certification) for more  details!

3. U.S immigration guide for employees 

The five main ways an individual can obtain residency status and be allowed to work in the United  States are the following: 

∙ Sponsorship by an Employer: which means that an employer in the US is hiring you as a  foreigner and by doing so they are guaranteeing to the US visa authorities that you will be  legally working in the United States as a resident. 

∙ Investment: which means that you must invest in a U.S enterprise creating at least 10  American jobs. 

∙ Sponsorship by a close Family Member in the United States: to be eligible you must be  sponsored by an immediate relative who is at least 21 years of age and is either a U.S. citizen  or a. Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States. 

∙ The Diversity Visa Lottery Program: which is a free lottery program that allows different individuals from multiple nations to enter and get a chance to apply for a green card therefore  being able to legally live and work in the United States. 

∙ Asylum & Refugee Status: Refugee or asylum can be granted to people who have been  persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or  membership in a particular social group or political opinion. 

Bottom Line 

Whether you are an employee seeking a life-changing work opportunity in the U.S, an employer  looking forward to bring new talents to your company, or a businessman trying to invest or grow your  business within the U.S, finding the appropriate path to follow and the convenient legal procedures for  your specific situation is the first and most important thing to do. If you do not know how to navigate  your way through this process, consider seeking the help of an experienced attorney who is well  versed in these matters, as this will definitely make your journey easier.  

Richard Herman is a nationally renowned immigration lawyer, author, and  activist. He has dedicated his life to advocating for immigrants and helping  change the conversation on immigration. He is the founder of the Herman Legal  Group, an immigration law firm launched in 1995 and recognized in U.S. World  News & Report “Best Law Firms in America.” He is the co-author of the  acclaimed book, Immigrant, Inc. —Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the  New Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). Richard’s poignant commentary has  been sought out by many national media outlets, including The New York Times,  USA Today, BusinessWeek, Forbes, FOX News (The O’Reilly Factor), National  Public Radio, Inc., National Lawyers Weekly, PC World, Computerworld, CIO,  
TechCrunch, Washington Times, San Francisco Chronicle and InformationWeek.

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