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!
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.
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.