H-1B – Professional Workers
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows an alien to work in the U.S. for up to six years (or more, in certain circumstances) in a professional position.
- Speciality occupation: generally, the position must require at least a bachelor’s degree in a particular field related to the position. However, there are some exceptions to this rule where the job duties are sufficiently complex.
- The alien must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the related field.
- The employer must pay at least the prevailing wage.
H-2B – Temporary Workers
The H-2B visa category is used by U.S. employers to temporarily employ skilled or unskilled foreign nationals in nonagricultural positions for which the employer has a temporary need and for which qualified U.S. workers are unavailable. The company must plan to employ the foreign nationals for a temporary period and the employer’s need for the skills of the foreign nationals must also be temporary. In addition, the employer must seek a “labor certification” from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
E-1/E-2 – Treaty Traders and Investors
This nonimmigrant visa is intended for a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation who is coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the United States and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.
Treaty Trader Requirements (among others):
- The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.
- The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U. S. must have the nationality of the treaty country.
- The international trade must be “substantial” in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade, and principally between the U.S. and the treaty country.
Treaty Investor Requirements (among others):
- The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
L1 – Intra-Company Transferees
The L-1 classification is designed for intra-company transferees – employees who work for companies operating both in the United States and abroad.
To qualify for an L-1 visa, an employee must:
- Have worked abroad for a continuous period of one year, out of the three preceding years, for a company that is related to the company the employee will be joining in the United States. (The company abroad is related to a United States company if it is the branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the United States company.); and
- Be coming to work in the United States in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
O1 – Persons with Extraordinary Ability
The O-1 classification is reserved for persons with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” To qualify, persons must be coming to the United States to work in their areas of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in science, education, business, or athletics is defined as “a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”
P1 – Athletes and Entertainers
The P classification is for athletes, entertainers, and artists who seek to temporarily visit the United States for a specific event, competition, or performance.
The following athletes and performers may qualify for a P-1 visa:
- An athlete, who performs as an individual or as part of a group, at an internationally recognized level of performance;
- A professional athlete, employed by:
- A team that is a member of an association of six or more professional sports teams whose combined revenue exceeds $10,000,000 and who regulates the competitions in which its member teams engage; or any minor league team affiliated with such an association.
- A coach or athlete performing with sports teams in the United States that are part of an international sports association.
- Amateur or professional ice skaters who perform, individually or as part of a group, in theatrical ice skating productions or tours.
Q1 – Cultural Exchange Visitors
The Q-1 visa is for persons participating in an international cultural exchange program that is designed to share the history, culture, and traditions of the Q-1 visa holder’s home country.
Before a person can apply for a Q-1 visa, a United States employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker for him or her. Once the petition is approved, the beneficiary of the petition may apply for a Q-1 visa at a United States consulate or embassy abroad.
For the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to be approved, the United States employer must show the following:
- The culture-sharing will take place where the public is exposed to aspects of a foreign culture as part of a structured program;
- The cultural component will be an essential and integral part of the participant’s employment and training;
- The participant’s employment and training is not be independent of the cultural component;
- The employer has the ability to conduct a responsible international cultural exchange program and can pay the participant wages comparable to similarly situated domestic workers and provide working conditions similar to those of domestic workers; and
- The participant is at least 18 years-old, is qualified to perform the service or labor, or receive the type of training, listed in the application, and has the ability to communicate effectively about the culture of the participant’s home country.
R1 – Religious Workers
The R-1 classification is for religious workers seeking to enter the United States.
To qualify for an R-1 visa, a religious worker must be:
- A minister; or
- A person working in a professional capacity in a religious occupation or vocation; or
- A person working in a religious occupation or vocation who has been a member of that religious denomination for at least two years immediately preceding the date of the visa application. The religious denomination must qualify as a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States.
TN – Canadian and Mexican Professionals
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican citizens may work as professionals in the United States through TN status. TN status is granted for an initial period of three years with indefinite renewals.
The following documentation must be provided when applying for TN status or a TN visa:
- Proof of the employee’s Canadian or Mexican citizenship;
- Evidence that the employee will be working in a profession included on the NAFTA list of professions;
- Proof of the employee’s professional qualifications; and
- A Letter of Employment from the employer explaining the nature of the work, the reason for entry to the U.S., and compensation ability.
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