Individuals interested in working in the U.S. temporarily as lawful nonimmigrant workers must qualify for Employment Visas. A prospective employer must first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and receive an approval prior to applying for a work visa.
H-1B Working Visas for Specialty Workers
The H-1B Visa is available to a foreign worker who wishes to enter the U.S. for the purpose of working in a specialty occupation. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) the term “specialty occupation” is defined as an occupation that requires a theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge. A higher education degree or its equivalent is required. The list of potential occupations that fall within the term “specialty occupations” is not limited to the professions stated in the statute. As long as an occupation can be shown to fall within the scope of the above definition, the job position can qualify for H-1B status. These occupations include but are not limited to architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academies or seminaries. The filing of an H-1B petition for an alien in a specialty occupation requires an approved Labor Condition Application, valid for the dates of intended employment
E Visas for Treaty Traders or Investors
Individuals or companies of qualifying Treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade, or who have made a significant investment in the U.S. may qualify for the E1 or E2 Visa. The E nonimmigrant visa category is particularly useful for business owners, managers and certain employees requiring extended periods of stay in the United States to conduct business as it relates to (a) trade between the United States and a foreign state or (b) a major investment in the United States. Dependent spouses of E-visa holders can request a work authorization document upon application for their own E visa status.
L Visas for Executives and Intracompany Transferees
The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies operating both in the U.S. and abroad to transfer certain classes of employees temporarily to affiliates or branches in the U.S. These classes include executives and managers (L-1A) and technical personnel having “specialized knowledge” (L-1B). NAFTA permits Canadian citizens to directly apply for L-1 status at a port of entry as an alternative to filing their petition in the United States. This option is not available to Mexican applicants who must initiate the application with a regional service center for the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).
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