The immigration lawyer works closely with U.S. employers to assist with nonimmigrant employment visas in fields ranging from research science to health care and accounting. She also assists religious organizations with R-1 visas. Following is a description of the most frequently used US nonimmigrant visa categories.
The H-1B professional visa category can be utilized by an employer seeking the temporary services of a foreign professional in the United States in a specialty occupation. The position must require at least a Bachelor’s Degree in the field and must meet “prevailing wage” standards and be approved by the Department of Labor. H-1B visas may be acquired at a maximum of six years of authorization; further extensions may be available at certain stages in permanent residence processing. This category is currently subject to a strict annual numerical limitation and is therefore not always available.
H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers Visa Program
The H2A visa is designated for individuals who will be employed as seasonal farm workers temporarily. The H2A visa may be issued for a period up to one year and may be extended for a three year total duration. There is no numerical limit to the number of H2A visas issued. A single petition may be used to sponsor a large number of H2A visas if:
- they will perform the same services;
- they will work at the same location; and
- they obtain their visa stamp through the same US Consulate.
Spouses and children of H2A visa holders may enter and remain in the US in H4 status. H4 visa holders may attend school in the US but cannot accept employment.
H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers
The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non agricultural jobs.
Temporary Protection Status (TPS)
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protection Status due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant Temporary Protection Status to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.
P-1A Athlete Visa
The P-1 classification applies to you if you are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
You must be coming to the United States to participate in individual event, competition or performance in which you are internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country. For athletic teams, they must come to the United States to participate in team events and must have achieved significant international recognition in the sport. The event in which your team is participating must be distinguished and require the participation of athletic teams of international recognition.
P-1B Entertainment Group Visa
The P-1B visa classification applies to you if you are coming to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. At least 75 percent of the members of your group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year. Your entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential.
P-2 Individual Performer Visa
The P-2 visa classification applies to you if you are coming temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. You must be an artist entering the United States through a government recognized reciprocal exchange program. In addition, you must possess skills comparable to those of the United States artists and entertainers taking part in the program outside the United States.
P-3 Artist or Entertainer Visa
The P-3 visa classification applies to you if you are coming temporarily to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique. You must be coming to the United States either individually or as a group for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. In addition, you must be coming to the United States to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of your art form.
TN, Treaty NAFTA
• For citizens of Canada and Mexico
• Provides temporary US employment
• Profession or occupation must be included in the NAFTA Appendix
• The applicant must document the appropriate credentials for the profession (frequently a Bachelor’s Degree in the field is required)
• Canadian citizens may apply directly at a port of entry into the United States
• Mexican citizens may apply for a visa directly at a US consulate
The applicant will only be admitted to the United States for an initial three-year period. Extensions of TN authorization may be granted in three-year increments.
L-1A Visas and L-1B Visas for Intracompany Transferee
• Multi-national corporations seeking to transfer key staff temporarily from international affiliate, subsidiary, parent, or branch operations to the United States operations
• The employee must have at least one year of qualifying employment in an executive, managerial, or “specialized knowledge” capacity in the past three years
• Maximum seven years of authorization for managers and executives and five years for specialized knowledge employees
• For managers and executives, the L-1 category can become the basis for a permanent residency application
B-1 Business Visitor
The B-1 visa category can be utilized by individuals seeking to visit the United States to conduct a range of business transactions. This category does not permit employment in the United States and requires that the applicant illustrate continuing ties to his/her home country, a specific return date, and permissible business activities in the United States. B-1 authorization is generally granted for a short period of time based upon the business necessity of the visit (one to six months) with the possibility of extensions. Note that nationals of certain countries may visit the US temporarily without a visa, pursuant to the visa waiver program.
O-1 Visas for Individuals with Extraordinary Abilities
The O-1 visa category is appropriate for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, the arts, education, business or sports. This category is intended for those individuals who have risen to the top of their field and have received sustained national or international acclaim for their accomplishments. The individual must be able to document that he/she meets the specific criteria which include receipt of awards, authorship of scholarly articles, or evidence of employment in an organization with a distinguished reputation. The applicant must have an offer of employment related to their field.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visas and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas
The E visa category is available to nationals of those countries that have qualifying treaties with the United States and who are entering the US to invest in a business or to set up a qualifying trading operation. E visas may be issued to employees of large multinational companies also.
• Approximately 50 countries have qualifying agreements with the United States
• E-1: international trade with the United States
• E-2: investment in United States business
• Visa issued for five years, extensions are available as long as the trade or investment continues to qualify
• E visas do not typically lead to permanent residency
R-1 Religious Worker
The R-1 visa category is for a religious worker who, for the past two years, has been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious organization in the United States. It is for:
• Monks and nuns
• People in religious occupations, such as liturgical workers, religious translators, and cantors. This category is not for maintenance workers, fundraisers, or clerks.
Contact immigration lawyer, Jayne Bouchfaa, for a consultation.