Non-Immigrant Work Visas
E-2 Treaty Investors
The E-2 visa category is for foreign nationals of those countries with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation, who intends to come to the United States solely to direct and develop the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested, or is actively involved in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. For a list of treaty countries, click here. The investment involved must place lawfully acquired, owned, and controlled capital at commercial risk with a profit objective, and must be subject to loss if the investment fails.
H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers
H-1B visas are available for foreign-born professionals who have offers of employment in the U.S. An H-1B visa permits U.S. employers to temporarily employ certain qualifying workers in specialty occupations. Generally, H-1B status is initially issues for a three-year term, and can be renewed for an additional three years. Under certain circumstances, an H-1B can be extended beyond this total of six years. There is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas that the United States will issue, although applicants who will be working for non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and research organizations are exempt from the cap.
To be eligible for H-1B status, the applicant must: (1) have a minimum of a four-year university degree or equivalent; (2) be paid at least the “prevailing wage” for his or her job classification; and (3) must be employed in a role that is related to his or her educational background.
L-1 Intracompany Transfers
The L-1 visa category enables qualifying employees of companies outside the United States which have a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate inside the United States to enter the United States to work for the related entity. To qualify for an L-1 visa, the employee must be working in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or have “specialized knowledge” which is unique to the employer (L-1B) and must be entering the U.S. to work in a similar management or executive capacity, or to use his or her specialized, company-specific, knowledge.
The U.S. entity must continue operations for the duration of the employee’s authorized stay, and the visa holder should generally expect to transferred back to employment at the non-U.S. entity upon completion of the visa’s purpose. An initial petition for an L-1 visa may be granted for a period of up to 3 years. By renewing their L-1 visas, managers and executives may stay in the United States for a total of up to 7 years, and “specialized knowledge” workers may stay for up to 5 years in total. L-1 visas are also available for managers or executives seeking to come to the United States to establish a new office. For any L-1 visa, the employee must have been employed by the non-U.S.entity or affiliated entity on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period to qualify. There is no annual cap on L-1 visas and, even though the L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, the foreign national may have the intent to apply for permanent resident status even at the time of applying for an L-1 visa.
PERM Labor Certification
The PERM process requires the employer to conduct a series of recruitment activities to test the labor market before filing the application. Employers are required to submit PERM applications to the U.S. Department of Labor showing that they have attempted to hire U.S. workers for the job, but have been unsuccessful. The labor certification process involves two steps:
Step one: Employer electronically requests a prevailing wage determination (PWD) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The petitioning employer provides job duties, requirements and location with DOL. Meanwhile, the employer must conduct good faith recruitment effort for qualified U.S workers for the job. If no qualified U.S. workers apply for the job, the employer then will prepare and submit a PERM application electronically to DOL.
Step two: Upon approval of the application, the employer has 180 days to submit a Form I-140, Immigrant Visa Petition, to USCIS.
EB-1A Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
Some candidates may apply for EB-1A without without having to go through the PERM labor certification process, and even without a job offer. “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” do not need an employer to submit a petition on their behalf to USCIS; they are allowed to "self-petition".
For purposes of EB-1A classification, a person of “extraordinary ability” is defined as one who belongs to that “small percentage” who have “risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” To be successful, an EB-1A petition must demonstrate the alien’s extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which must be evidenced by “sustained national or international acclaim.” Successful EB-1A applications provide extensive documentation of the recognition the foreign national’s accomplishments have received, and explain the nature of the foreign national’s unique accomplishments in language that will be clear to non-specialists. While no offer of employment is required, the alien must have the intention to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability after coming to the United States.
EB-1B Outstanding Professors/Researchers
Certain outstanding professors and researchers may obtain green cards without having to undergo the PERM process. For an alien to be considered outstanding, he or she must be internationally recognized as outstanding in a particular scientific or scholarly field, and mustdemonstrate this recognition in specifically defined ways. EB-1B, like the other EB-1 categories, is current for visa processing, meaning qualifying applicants are processed much faster than other employment-based categories. In such cases, the immigrant visa petition can typically be submitted concurrently with the Green Card application, if the applicant is in the U.S.
A foreign national applying for a green card in the EB-1B Outstanding Professor/ Researcher must have the sponsorship of his or her employer throughout the petitioning process. If the employer is a private company rather than a university or educational institution, the department, division, or institute of the private employer must employ at least three persons full time in research activities and have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.
EB-1C Multinational Manager or Executive
The EB-1C immigration classification allows Multinational Executives or Managers to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. They are exempt from the PERM labor certification requirement.
To be admitted as immigrants, multinational executives and managers must have been employed in a managerial or executive capacity for at least one out of the past three years. The past employment must be with the same multinational firm or an affiliate, parent or subsidiary of that firm. Presently, EB-1(c) is current for visa processing.
A significant number of EB-1C applicants transition to the permanent resident classification from the L-1 non-immigrant category as the L-1 classification allows dual intent.
EB-2 Advanced Degree, Exceptional Ability
For the EB-2 classification, a foreign national must hold an advanced degree and must demonstrate expertise significantly above the levelnormally encountered in the applicant’s field. The applicant must demonstrate that he or she will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States because of his or her exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
The applicant must also have a job offer from a U.S. employer to work in the field in which he or she has demonstrated exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, professions, or business.
EB-3 Professional, Skilled Workers, and Other Workers
The EB-3 preference category consists of (1) professionals, (2) skilled workers and (3) unskilled workers. It is an employment-based 3rd preference petition for a foreign national employee who has a Bachelor’s degree, or, if not possessing a degree, is a skilled worker, meaning the foreign national has at least two years of work experience for the job being offered. Additionally, there is a sub-category for unskilled workers that requires less than two years of experience.
Most EB-3 petitions require that an employer successfully complete the PERM labor certification process with the U.S. Department of Labor before sponsoring the EB-3 applicant for permanent residence.
EB-5 Investment-Based Visas
EB-5 immigrant visas are granted to those foreign national who invest $1 Million (or $500,000 if invested in a target employment area) in a new commercial enterprise which creates at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers. EB-5 Regional Centers have become a successful way for new businesses to pool EB-5 investments, and to reduce risk to investors. Whether the investment is made in a Regional Center or a stand-alone business, successful EB-5 petitioners are first granted a conditional green card for two years. At the end of that period, the investor must demonstrate to USCIS that his or her investment has directly or indirectly created 10 new jobs.
E-2 (Treaty investors)
B-1 Visa for business visitors
Employment based immigration
Perm Labor Certification
EB-1(a) Aliens of extraordinary ability
EB-1(b) Outstanding Professors/ Researchers
EB-1(c) Multinational manager or executive
EB-2 Advance degree, exceptional ability
EB-3 Professional, skilled workers and other workers
EB-4 Special immigrant and Religious workers
EB-5 Investors visa
Family based immigration
Other immigration matters