• Employment-Based Residency / Permanent Workers 

There are different types of employment-based visas, each intended for a certain category of worker. The immigrant visa categories our office handles include the following:

          • EB-1 extraordinary ability in certain fields
          • EB-2 professionals holding advanced degrees or who possess exceptional ability
          • EB-3 professionals, skilled workers and other workers
          • EB-4 special immigrants such as religious workers and retired employees of international organizations
          • EB-5 business investors who meet certain criteria (see Investment-Based Immigration)
  • Non-Immigrant Visas for Temporary Employment 
  1. H-1B (Specialty Occupation Workers) – The H-1B visa is for foreign nationals who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation. An H-1B status requires a sponsoring U.S. employer to file a labor condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labor attesting to several items, including payment of prevailing wages for the position, and the working conditions offered. The spouse and children of an H-1B visa holder may accompany the principal applicant. 

The H-1B visa holder may apply for lawful permanent residence via a family-based petition or a labor certification, if s/he qualifies. 

  1. L-1 (Executive, Manager, or Specialized Knowledge) – The L-1 visa is utilized to transfer executives, managers, and specialized knowledge workers among affiliated companies. 

To qualify for an L-1 visa, the U.S. Petitioning Company must show that:

        • The Foreign Company and the U.S. Petitioning Company have a qualified relationship
        • Within the three years preceding the petition, the prospective transferee must have worked continuously for the Foreign Company for at least one year in either an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge employee capacity
        • The prospective transferee intends to enter the U.S. to work for the affiliated U.S. Petitioning Company in either an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity
        • The Foreign Company must continue to conduct business while the transferee is in the U.S. working for the U.S. Petitioning Company

Executive or managerial transferee workers (and their immediate family members) may remain in the U.S. for a period not exceeding seven years; specialized knowledge employees for a maximum of five years.

If the U.S. Petitioning Company is a “new” office (i.e. has not been active for more than one year), the initial L visa will be granted for one year. After this one-year period, the Petitioner must show that the company is actively doing business (i.e. showing growth in the number of employees, increase in revenues and increase in the volume of goods sold or services provided). If the U.S. Petitioning Company is not a new office, then the initial period of stay should be three years.

The great benefit of the L visa is that the transferee may apply for and obtain his/her lawful permanent residency (green card) through his/her continued employment with the U.S. company.

Spouses and children under the age of 21 years may accompany the L-1 visa holder employee to the U.S. under the L-2 visa category. As dependents of the L-1 visa holder, the spouse may obtain work authorization once in the U.S. and children can remain in the U.S. legally and study.

  1. O-1 (Extraordinary Ability) – The O-1 visa is for an individual who has been recognized nationally or internationally and has either extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, education, arts, or athletics, or extraordinary achievements in motions pictures or television. The O-1A visa is for individuals in business, education, sciences or athletics. The O-1B visa is for individuals in the arts, motion pictures or television. The individual must prove his or her extraordinary ability has been demonstrated by “sustained national or international acclaim.” This standard can be established by showing receipt of a major internationally recognized award or by satisfying three of several criteria, including, among others, receipt of national or internationally recognized awards, published materials about the applicant, authorship of scholarly work by the applicant, playing a lead or critical role in an organization or production with a distinguished reputation, and commanding a high salary relative to others in the field. The O-1 visa requires a sponsor and an expert advisory opinion. The O-1 visa is granted in three-year increments with one-year extensions.
  2. P1 (Athlete or Entertainer) – The P-1 visa is available to athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment groups who are internationally recognized as outstanding and with a high level of achievement. The P-1A visa is for an athlete or athletic team to perform at a specific athletic competition with international recognition. The P-1B visa is for an entertainer or an entertainment group that must have been established for a minimum of one year and 75% of its members must have been performing entertainment services for the group for a minimum of one year. Essential support personnel may also be granted P visas. The P visa requires a sponsor and an expert advisory opinion. The P visa is generally admitted according to the duration of a specific competition, event or performance. 
  3. R-1 (Religious Worker) – The R-1 visa is for an individual coming to the United States to be employed by a bona fide nonprofit religious organization, at least part-time (average of at least 20 hours per week), solely as a minister, or in a religious vocation or occupation. The sponsoring organization must prove it is a tax-exempt organization and the religious worker must have been a member of the religious denomination for two years immediately before filing the application for R-1 status. The R-1 visa is granted for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months. Subsequent extensions may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The total period of stay in the U.S. cannot exceed five years.
  • Investor Visas 
  1. E-1 / E-2 

These classifications are designated for temporary workers engaged in international trade or investment between the U.S. and their countries of nationality, provided that the employer or owner of the business is a national of a country that has a commercial treaty (Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation, Bilateral Investment Treaty, or Free Trade Agreement) with the U.S.A.

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa is available to a foreign national if the following applies:

  • The individual or the business has the nationality of a treaty country
  • There exists trade (at least 50% of the company’s international trade) between the United States and the treaty country
  • The person is the principal trader, a manager or executive, or an essential employee

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is available to a foreign national if the following applies:

  • The individual or the company from the treaty nation has made or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business enterprise
  • The individual in question is the principal investor, a manager, an executive, or an employee with skills essential to the operation of the U.S. Company.

The spouse and children (under 21 years of age) of an E-1 or E-2 visa holder may accompany the principal applicant.

  1. EB-5 (Residency via Investment):

An EB-5 visa allows foreign entrepreneurs and their immediate relatives (spouse and children under 21 years of age) to live in the United States as legal permanent resident in order to manage a business resulting from a large investment. Generally, the foreign entrepreneur must invest $1 million in a new enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers; however, the investment amount may be $500,000 if you invest in a targeted area of high unemployment (TEA). 

At this time, there are projects known as “Regional Centers” that are approved/designated by USCIS where foreign entrepreneurs may invest $500,000 and obtain an EB-5 visa.  The Regional Center will manage the investment on behalf of the foreign entrepreneur in order for the individual’s investment to comply with all of the EB-5 requirements.

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