Business travelers may enter the United States using a B-1, or ‘Visitor for Business Visa’. In practice these visas are invariably issued as jointly with B-2, or ‘Visitor for Pleasure’ (i.e. tourist) visa. This practice means that, if a candidate has an old tourist visa, it may be valid for a planned business trip.
Initial period of stay is 1 to 6 months. Maximum total amount of time permitted in B-1 status on any one trip is generally 1 year.
EB-3 (Employment Base Immigration – Green Card I-140)
This category is for ‘professional workers’ with a U.S. bachelor’s or foreign equivalent degree and with a job offer from a U.S. company; for ‘skilled workers’ for positions that require at least two years of training or experience and with a job offer from a U.S. company.
USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
- Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
- Established on or before Nov. 19, 1990, that is:
- Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
- Expanded through the investment so that a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs
Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.
The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf.
Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stat of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-1 nonimmigrant’s, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.
Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is a maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
H-1B Specialty Occupation
The U.S. H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine. Under the visa a U.S. company can employ a foreign worker for up to six years. An exception to maximum length of stay applies in certain circumstances.
The current law limits to 65,000 the number of foreign national who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status each fiscal year (FY0). Laws exempt up to 20,000 foreign national holding a Master’s or higher degree from U.S. universities from the cap on H-1B visas.
Free Trade Agreements carve out 1,400 H-1B1 visas for Chilean national and 5,400 H-1B1 visas for Singapore nationals. However, if these reserved visas are not used, then they are made available in the next fiscal year to applicants from other countries. Thus, the number of H-1B visas issued each year is significantly more than the 65,000 cap.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services starts accepting applications on the first business day of April for visas that count against the fiscal year starting in October. Beneficiaries not subject tot eh annual cap are those who currently hold H-1B status or have held H-1B status at some point in the past six years.
H-2B Visa Temporary Seasonal Non-Agricultural Work
The H-2B visa is for temporary or seasonal no-agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, H-2B allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs.
Generally, USCIS may grant H-2B classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification. H-2B classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each. A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request. The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is 3 years.
A person who has held H-2B non-immigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking re-admission as an H-2B non-immigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2B time.
Allows companies operation both in the U.S. and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the USA operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your U.S. Company outside of the U.S. for at least one year out of the last three years.
Companies operating in the U.S. can apply to the relevant USCIS service center of an L1 visa to transfer someone to the U.S. from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for USA L1 visas:
- Specialized Knowledge Staff
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
TN-1 Visa for Canadian Professionals
Canadians can often gain entry to the U.S. with greater ease than others; this preferential treatment for Canadians is linked to treaty provision within the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While there are many NAFTA related visas, the most useful one is the TN-1. The TN-1 Visa was modeled on the H-1B; it may only be used where the employer is based in the U.S., and the candidate is a professional in one of the qualified categories. Where a candidate, by their profession and nationality, qualified for the TN-1 visa, it has the following advantages over the H-1B:
• It is granted for one year, but can continue to be renewed indefinitely.
• It can be applied for at the border with the U.S., and is usually granted immediately.
• The documentary requirements and procedure is far less burdensome than the H-1B visa.
TN-2 Visa for Mexican Professional
To be qualified for a TN-2, a Mexican professional should meet the following qualification:
- The applicant must be a Mexican citizen
- The applicant must intend to engage in employment in an approved profession and have an offer of employment.
- The applicant must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in the approved profession the applicant is applying under. A bachelor’s degree or higher is usually required for all approved professions on the list. If the profession requires licensing, then the applicant must possess the requisite license.
- The applicant must intend to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period. An applicant may be denied TN status because he has a pending immigration petition.
The F-1 visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language-training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
The J-1 classification (Exchange Visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.