U.S. IMMIGRATION LAW

When you are coming to the U.S. for a short stay such as a vacation, business trip, school, or ministry, a temporary visa can and should be secured for your stay. There are a number of visa categories under which you may qualify, and these categories’ eligibility requirements vary.

Our Immigration Law firm can assess your specific goals to help you determine which visa is best for your particular visit to the U.S. Do not leave your application to chance. Please call our qualified immigration attorney today to guide you through the right immigration pathway.

VISA CATEGORIES

The B-1 Visitor Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign citizen to temporarily enter the U.S. for business purposes, including educational, scientific, business consulting professional conferences, contract negotiations and the like. The requirements to qualify for this type of visa include:

  • Proof of temporary business purposes,
  • Showing evidence that you have the funds necessary to cover your expenses while in the U.S.,
  • Proof of a bona fide NEED to enter the U.S., and
  • Evidence demonstrating that you have a permanent residence outside the U.S. and that you have other ties to your country abroad. This type of evidence is necessary to show that you intend to return to your country of origin after your temporary stay in the U.S.

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The B-2 Visitor (“Tourist Visa” or “B2 Visa”) is a non-immigrant visa that allows people to enter the U.S. on a temporary bases for pleasure or a medical treatment. Travelers from certain countries are not required to obtain a visitor visa. However, if you want to visit the U.S. temporarily, obtaining a visitor visa is the first step.

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Student visas are special passport endorsements issued to students enrolled at a qualified educational institution. Student visas are issued for the period of time it takes a student to start and finish his/her course of study, program or work assignment. The type of visa category that will be granted to the student is determined by the course of study and the type of institution the student will be attending.

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The E-1 Treaty Traders Visa is ideal for the investor or entrepreneur desiring to do business in the U.S. for the purposes of promoting trade and investment in the U.S.

Your eligibility for this immigration program will be based on your intent to engage in commercial enterprises within the U.S. as well as other important criteria. Please click here to learn more about the U.S. Investor Visa Programs.

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To be eligible for the E-2 Investor Visa, a business person must make a “substantial” investment in an “active” U.S. business. Learn more about these statutory definitions and some important eligibility requirements by clicking here.

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The E-3 visa classification is solely for Australian passport holders. The requirements are similar to the H-1B; however, the E-3 has a separate annual quota of 10,500. Accordingly, this visa is a wonderful option for Aussies who want to come to the U.S. to work for a U.S.-based business in a professional capacity. If approved, your E-3 visa will be valid for 2 years. As long as you continue to meet your E-3 visa requirements, it can be renewed indefinitely every 2 years.

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This non-immigrant visa is primarily granted to foreign national workers who are hired for a “specialty occupation”. A specialty worker is required to possess the minimum of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specific occupation and have a job offer for which their degree is required. The maximum number of years on an H-1B visa is six years with an option to file for a three year extension. As an H-1B worker, you can eventually file for a green card.

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The H-2A visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa program that allows U.S. Farm Employers to bring foreign nationals to assist with agricultural related job for a specified period. These services must be of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Before the USCIS can approve an employer’s petition for agricultural workers, the employer must file an application that demonstrates that there are not enough available, capable or willing U.S. workers who can perform the tasks and job duties needed. The employer must also demonstrate that employing a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of domestic workers who are in similar employment. H-2A petitions will only be approved for countries that are on the designated list eligible to participate. Foreign nationals must prove intent to return to their home country.

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This program is also for temporary workers; however, it is solely for non-agricultural workers required by employers to fill in-demand, temporary positions. There are specific industries that qualify, including:

  • Cruise Ships
  • Resorts and Theme Parks
  • Hospitality
  • Golf Courses
  • Construction Ski Resorts
  • Maintenance and janitorial
  • Landscaping
  • Water Parks
  • Warehouses
  • Restaurant and Bars
  • Retail Stores
  • Sports and Athletics, etc.

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The L-1A non-immigrant visa category allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliate overseas offices to one of its U.S. offices. In addition, this category allows a foreign company that does not have an affiliate U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing a U.S. office.

There is no annual cap for the L-1A and no educational requirements. It also does not require a labor certification applications. Filing must be made by parent or subsidiary branch of the company. The foreign national Manager or Executive must have worked for the company a minimum of one year in the last three years. Maximum duration of the L-1A visa is seven years. As an L-1A worker, you can eventually file for a green card under the EB-1C category, which will by-pass the labor certification requirement.

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This particular visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer professionals who have specialized knowledge from one of its affiliate foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices. These professionals must have unique or special knowledge of the petitioning employer’s services, research, products, techniques, management, procedures, processes, equipment or interests. These employees’ special knowledge must be applicable in the international marketplaces as well.

The length of time an L-1B visa will be granted varies depending on the age of the company. For instance, the L-1B visa is granted for 1 year to startups and companies that have existed for 3 years, and L-1B employees may be granted extensions in 2-year increments. Note, however, that unlike a L-1A visa, an L-1B visa’s 2-year extension can only be extended up to 5 years.

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Section 101(O)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act established the O-1 visa, which enables people of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education and athletics to enter the U.S. under non-immigrant O-1 status. People who work in the television or movie industry may also qualify if they can demonstrate that their work product has brought them national or international notoriety (for example, an acclaimed award like the Nobel Prize, Olympic Medal, Grammy, Oscar or Academy Award).

The O-1 visa has two subcategories:

  1. O-1A visa – designed for professionals with extraordinary ability or achievement in the areas of athletics, business, education or science.
  2. O-1B visa – designed for professionals who possess extraordinary ability or achievement in the arts, television or movie industry.

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P-1, P-2 and P-3 are granted to people who fall within a group of performers or athletic team. Each P-visa is granted on a different basis.

(1) P-1A visa is used by foreign nationals who enter the U.S. to participate in an individual event, competition or performance that is internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; or, to participate in team events that have achieved significant international recognition in a distinguished sport. A consultation from an appropriate labor organization that describes the work or services to be performed in the U.S. and the foreign national’s qualifications for such work must be submitted with the application.

P-1B is used by foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to perform as a member of an entertainment group (cannot be an individual performer) that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. For the P-1B visa, a minimum of 75 percent of the members of the entertainment group must have had one year of a substantial and sustained relationship with the group. The application must be accompanied by a consultation from an appropriate labor organization regarding the nature of the work or a statement proving that the group has been in existence and performing for a minimum of a year.

(2) The P-2 category is rarely used. When used, however, it applies to artists and entertainers who perform as part of an exchange program with another country. The sponsoring labor organization in the U.S., must provide Written consultation by an appropriate labor organization.

(3) The P-3 category is reserved for artists and entertainers visiting the U.S. to develop, interpret, represent, coach or teach their culturally unique ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation.

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Under certain conditions, members of a religious organization that have established a genuine nonprofit, religious organization in the U.S. may be allowed to work for the U.S.-based organization for an initial 30 months with a maximum stay of 60 months.

There are a number of application requirements for individuals filing under the R-1 Religious Workers category. Among those requirements, an individual’s intent for coming to the U.S. must be to serve in one of the following three categories:

  1. An ordained minister or the equivalent of an ordained minister as determined under their religious denomination;
  2. A person committed to a life-long religious occupation (for example, a nun); or
  3. Religious workers such as liturgical workers, religious instructors, worship leaders, religious educators, workers in religious hospitals and missionaries (those working in a traditionally religious role).

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As established by the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), the TN visa is exclusively designed for Canadian and Mexican professionals. These professionals are permitted to work in the U.S. for an aboard employer. Professionals who are permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are unable to apply for a TN visa.

As with many international agreements, there is a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is designed to replace the 1994 NAFTA and TN visa. This new agreement has higher standards. Please consult with a qualified immigration attorney at our law firm to stay up-to-date on these changes.

The TN visa may be approved for an initial stay up to three years. Those in TN status may not apply for a Green Card. They must change their status to another visa category that permits applications for a Green Card.

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