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Employment Visas

Employment Visas

Employment Visas

  1. E-1 Treaty Trader
    The E-1 visa allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. The initial maximum stay allowed is two years with the possibility of renewals in two year increments. In some cases, dependent family members and certain employees of the person or a qualifying organization may be eligible for this visa.

You are eligible for this visa if you:

  • Are a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3726.html
  • Carry on substantial (sizable) trade
  • Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country

Some examples of items of trade are:

  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism

Our firm will assist you with filing the appropriate forms for both the E-1 visa and any extension.

 

  1. E-2 Treaty Investor
    The E-1 visa allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. The initial maximum stay allowed is two years with the possibility of renewals in two year increments. In some cases, dependent family members and certain employees of the person or a qualifying organization may be eligible for this visa.

 

You are eligible for this visa if you:

  • Are a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3726.html
  • Have invested or are in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Are seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. You can establish this by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

Our firm will assist you with filing the appropriate forms for both the E-2 visa and any extension.

 

  1. E-2 CNMI-Only Investor
    This visa allows foreign, long-term investors to remain lawfully present in the CNMI through December 2014 while they resolve their immigration status. You may file for this status beginning January 19, 2011. The status acquired for this visa will allow you an initial stay of two years. If there are family members joining you in the CNMI – they will have the same lawful presence as you.

 

You are eligible for the CNMI Investor visa if you:

  • Were admitted to the CNMI with a long-term investor visa under CNMI immigration law before November 28, 2009
  • Have continuously maintained residence in the CNMI under long-term investor status
  • Currently maintain the investment(s) that formed the basis for the CNMI long-term investor status
  • Would otherwise be allowed to enter the United States under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

You are eligible for the E2C status if you held one of the following statuses under CNMI Immigration Law:

  • A long-term business investor who was issued a long-term business certificate by the CNMI based upon an investment of at least $50,000
  • A foreign investor with a foreign investment certificate issued by the CNMI based upon an investment of at least $100,000 in an aggregate approved investment in excess of $2 million or at least $250,000 in a single approved investment
  • A retiree investor over the age of 55 years who was issued a foreign retiree investment certificate based upon a qualifying investment in an approved residence in the CNMI (but not including the 2-year non-renewable retiree investor program limited to Japanese nationals)

 

You are not eligible for the E2C if you held one of the following statuses under CNMI Immigration Law:

  • The sub-category of the retiree investor specifically limited to Japanese retirees
  • Short-term business entry permits
  • Regular-term business entry permits

Our firm will discuss your options for filing the appropriate forms.

 

  1. E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
    The E-3 visa is specifically for Australian nationals coming to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation. The initial maximum stay allowed is two years with the possibility of renewals in two year increments. Dependent family members such as spouses and children are eligible for the same visa classification.

 

You are eligible for this visa if you:

  • Are a national of Australia
  • Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States
  • Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials (usually a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent)
  • Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation

Our firm will assist you with filing the appropriate forms for both the E-3 visa and any extension.

 

 

Overview: G Visa

Representatives of international organizations and their dependents (immediate family members) can apply for G visas. The principal applicant, the one employed by an international organization, must have, as his or her intended purpose of traveling to the U.S., official duties to carry out within the framework of that organization.

G-1 Visa

If an applicant is a member of a permanent mission of a government recognized by the United States to a qualifying international organization with offices in the U.S., he or she is eligible for a G-1 visa.

G-2 Visa

G-2 visas are generally available for those applicants representing governments recognized by the U.S. traveling to the U.S. in a temporary capacity to attend a designated international organization’s meeting(s).

G-3 Visa

Applicants from countries not recognized by the United States and applicants from countries that do not have membership in a designated international organization traveling to the U.S. to attend a designated international organization’s meeting(s) are eligible to be considered for a G-3 visa.

G-4 Visa

Applicants intending to travel to the United States in order to act in an official capacity as an appointee at a designated international organization should apply for a G-4 visa.

Designated International Organizations

Click here for a list of designated international organizations.

Special Note for Potential G Visa Applicants

According to U.S. law, and with only limited exceptions, visa applicants entitled to receive a G visa in a principal or dependent capacity must receive a G visa rather than another type of visa.

NATO Visas

Applicants seeking entry into the U.S. under the Agreement on the Status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters Set Up Pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty are classified as applicants for a NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 visa. Individuals in this category include international staff, national representatives, and immediate family members of NATO-1 through NATO-6 individuals.

Special Note for NATO Visa Applicants

With limited exceptions, principals and dependents entitled to NATO visas must receive NATO visas if they are to receive any kind of visa at all.

Armed Forces Personnel Working with NATO

The usual passport and visa requirements may not apply if applicants are members of the armed forces and are traveling to the U.S. on official business and are attached to the Allied Headquarters of NATO in the United States or are coming to the United States under the auspices of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement.

Those persons traveling to the U.S. under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement must bring their travel orders from NATO as well as their official military I.D. cards. Generally, such persons arriving in the United States in a status in which they are exempt from the normal visa and passport requirements are entering the country by naval vessel or military aircraft.

Required Documents and Interviews for G Visa Applicants

An interview at a U.S. Consulate or the consular section of a U.S. Embassy may be requested, although it is not generally required. In addition, fingerprint scanning is not required for G 1-4 and NATO 1-6 visa applicants. If one is applying for a visa and is a servant, attendant, or personal employee of a G visa holder or a NATO visa holder, meaning that one is applying for a G-5 or a NATO-7 visa, then one does not have to be interviewed. During this interview process, such applicants will have a scanning of their fingerprint done. The scanning will be digital and ink-free.

All application forms for the visa should be delivered to the U.S. Consulate or U.S. Embassy in the applicant’s country of residence.

Please note more detailed information below on required documentation to submit as part of your application:

  • A signed completed Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-156). Click here to access the application electronically.
  • Form DS-1648, for persons applying for G 1-4 visas or NATO 1-6 visas who are applying in the United States. This includes situations where there has been a change of status and where an applicant is working at the United Nations. Form DS-1648 is strictly designated for applicants for A, G, or NATO visas applying in the United States. Click here to access the form. At present time, only the electronic version of Form DS-1648 is being accepted. Once the application has been filled out, submit the confirmation page found at the end of the application.
  • Except for G 1-4 applicants, it is necessary to complete and submit a supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157. click here to access the form.
  • G-5, A-3, and NATO-7 applicants are required to have their sending government provide them with a diplomatic note, which such applicants must include as part of their application. A diplomatic note shows that the government of the applicant’s country from which he or she is applying confirms in writing the applicant’s status. More specifically, the diplomatic note confirms that the applicant’s employer’s status is official. Those applicants entering the U.S. without visas under the Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters Set Up Pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty or under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement must carry official NATO travel orders and military I.D. cards.
  • Unless there are country-specific exemptions, applicants must have passports that are valid for U.S. entry with dates of validity extending at least six months beyond the period in which the applicant intends to stay in the United States.
  • Those applicants filling out Online Application DS-1648 must upload either a digital or scanned photograph that meets the requirements stipulated in the Photo Standards Guide for the Online Application DS-1648. For those applicants who try and fail to successfully submit their photograph electronically, they should continue making attempts until the form “allows” them to continue filling out their application without a photograph. Once this occurs, such applicants should submit a print photograph in accordance with the application’s requirements. Requirements for the print version of the photograph can be found by clicking here, under “Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements.” The print photograph should be glued or stapled to a printout of the DS-1648 confirmation page only in cases where the space where the uploaded photograph should be has an “X” in it. In cases where the confirmation page contains the image of the photograph, the photograph has been successfully uploaded and a print photograph is not needed.

Fees for Processing and Issuing Visas

There is an exemption from paying visa fees for persons able to prove entitlement to an official A, G, C-3, or NATO visa classification.

In addition, if holders of diplomatic passports meet one of the necessary categories under 22 CFR 21.26(c)(1)(i) through (c)(1)(xvi), they may be exempt from having to pay fees for their visa application, regardless of their purpose of travel or visa classification. The determination as to whether such an application must pay visa processing and insurance fees is made by a U.S. consular officer.

Application fees for non-official visas are, where applicable, required for official passport holders. This is despite the fact that such passport holders are exempt from paying for official visas.

For immediate family members or other dependents submitting visa applications separately from the principal applicant, applications must include a copy of the principal visa holder’s I-94 (both sides) and visa.

Who Benefits as an Immediate Family Member?

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried children, regardless of age, even if pursuing studies elsewhere, as long as they are members of the household.
  • Immediate family members should apply for NATO-2 visas if they plan to join a member of their family in the military who has NATO travel orders.
  • The spouse and children of G visa holders should apply for a G visa of the same classification if they wish to accompany the principal visa holder on travel.
  • If unmarried partners of G visa or NATO visa holders are otherwise qualified, they may submit an application for a B visa. Such applications are not eligible for derivative G or NATO visas even if their sending government or an international organization recognizes them as a dependent of the principal visa holder.

Personal Employees

If they fulfill the requirements, personal employees, including domestic workers, servants, and attendants of G 1-4 visas and NATO 1-6 visas, may be issued a NATO-7 or G-5 visa. A consular officer will make the determination as to whether one is eligible for such a visa. Potential candidates for the visa must apply for it while outside of the United States. The application process includes an interview, which takes place at a U.S. Consulate or U.S. Embassy.

Such applicants must furnish proof that they will receive sufficient wages to sustain them financially. These wages must be on a comparable scale to those in the same field of employment in the United States. Such applicants must also show that they are capable of performing the duties specified in their employment contract.

Required Documentation for the Employment Contract

G-5 and NATO-7 visa applicants should refer to the section on Required Documentation when determining which documents are necessary for their application, as well as information provided here regarding documentation concerning the employment contract. Please refer to the following bullet points for details on necessary components of the employment contract:

  • The contract must have the signatures of both the employee and the employer.
  • The contract must be in a language the employee understands, as well as in English.
  • The contract must contain a clause guaranteeing that the employee will be paid the federal or state minimum or prevailing wage. The greater of the two is what the employee should receive. A consular officer will determine what constitutes a fair prevailing wage based on Department of Labor statistics.
  • Only a reasonable amount of money may be deducted from wages for food or lodging.
  • The contract must contain a statement by the employee in which her or she promises not to accept any employment additional to his or her main employment for as long as he or she is employed in that capacity.
  • There must be a statement from the employer in the contract attesting to the fact that he or she will not withhold the employee’s passport.
  • Both the employer and employee must demonstrate in a statement in the contract that they understand that the employer cannot require the employee to stay on the job premises after working hours have finished unless the employee is compensated for doing so.

The Employer’s Financial Responsibilities

The employer is required to pay the initial travel expenses of the domestic worker under his or her employ. The employer must also pay the travel expenses of the domestic employee for travel to his or her next assignment or to return to his or her country of residence after the competition of the employment period.

In addition, the employer must show that he or she will be able to pay his or her employee a fair wage as well as provide fair working conditions. The contract should also reflect this information. Another element taken into consideration is the ability of the employer to cover the cost of the employee’s wages given the number of other employees that he or she has.

Retaining One’s Passport and Contract

Personal employees, including domestic workers, should keep both their passport and a copy of their contract, rather than having their employers keep them. U.S. law applies to personal employees for the duration of their time spent working under the contract in the United States. Employers are expected to abide by the provisions set forth in the contract.

Involuntary Servitude

Employees who feel that their employers are forcing them to work against their will can call a hotline sponsored by the U.S. government at 1-888-373-7888.

Entering the U.S. via a U.S. Port of Entry

Please note that just because one has a visa, entry into the U.S. is not guaranteed. While it is possible with a visa to travel to a U.S. port of entry, permission to actually enter must come from U.S. immigration inspectors from Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security. Ports of entry include:

  • land border crossings
  • seaports
  • international airports

Certain restrictions may have been placed on one’s visa, namely, port of entry restrictions, and so it is incumbent upon each applicant to make sure he or she is arriving at a port of entry that has not been restricted. Additionally, holders of G-5 and NATO-7 visas should know that they will be enrolled in the entry-exit program known as US-VISIT upon arrival in the United States. Click here for more information on the US-VISIT program. The US-VISIT program is not available for G 1-4 visa holders or NATO 1-6 visa holders.

G-5 and NATO-7 visa holders traveling to the United States may need to register their entry into the U.S. and departure from the U.S. Click here to learn more about special registration.

What to Expect If U.S. Entry Is Permitted

If U.S. entry is permitted, the entry will be authorized in the form of a Record of Arrival-Departure, Form I-94, provided by a U.S. immigration official. Information, including the length of one’s permitted stay in the U.S., is included on Form I-94. Form I-94 holders should safeguard it with their passport.

 

 

  1. H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models
    This visa is suited for professional nurses, fashion models, professionals with specialized knowledge such as scientists, engineers, programmers, research analysts, and others with specialized skills to name a few. You may be admitted for a period of three years but generally cannot exceed a stay of six years. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for admission as well.

 

You are eligible for the H-1B Specialty Occupations visa if your job meets one of the following:

  • The job is complex or unique and can only be performed by an individual with a degree
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher is required for entry into the position

You are eligible to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation if you meet one of the following:

  • Completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university
  • Completed a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree
  • Hold an unrestricted registration, state license, or certification which authorizes you to practice the specialty occupation
  • Have relevant experience and recognition of expertise in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of a bachelor’s or higher degree

 

You are eligible for the H1B2 DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker visa if your job meets both of the following:

  • The cooperative research and development project is provided for under a government-to-government agreement administered by the USDOD
  • If your position requires a bachelor’s or higher degree

You are eligible to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation if you meet one of the following:

  • Completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university
  • Completed a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree
  • Hold an unrestricted registration, state license, or certification which authorizes you to practice the specialty occupation
  • Have relevant experience and recognition of expertise in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of a bachelor’s or higher degree

You are eligible for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa if:

  • The position requires a fashion model of prominence
  • You are a fashion model of prominence

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

 

Specialty Occupations

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), “specialty occupations” are characterized by the following:

  • the application, both practically and theoretically, of a body of knowledge that is highly specialized, and
  • that one have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the relevant area of specialization or the equivalent thereof.

H-1B visa holders have certain requirements and things of which to take note, including:

  • that the H-1B classification cannot be available for more than a six year period;
  • that the visa holder have a position in the U.S. that is temporary, of a definite, rather than indefinite, duration;
  • that the visa holder work in a specialty occupation (Note: Many professional jobs fall under the category of special occupations.);
  • and that the visa holder’s employer has an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) for the employee (A Labor Condition Application (LCA) has as one of its aims to help make sure the employer is paying, at minimum, wages consistent with prevailing wages at the time.);
  • H-1B workers are not obligated to keep a foreign residence while in the United States.
  • H-1B workers are allowed to apply to be permanent residents of the United States.

H-1B Visa Availability

The limit on the number of H-1B visas available each year is set at 65,000. In addition, out of those 65,000 visas available, 6,800 are set aside for workers from Chile and Singapore as stipulated in the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). However, if unused FTA visas remain from a previous fiscal year, they may be made available within the first six weeks of the subsequent fiscal year.

In 2004, an exemption was created from the 65,000 limit. It makes visas available for 20,000 holders of advanced degrees, meaning here a master’s degree or higher, who have graduated from American universities. Once 20,000 H-1B visas have been granted to such applicants, holders of such degrees will be included within the pool of other H-1B applicants vying for one of the 65,000 slots available each year.

The Procedure for Filing the H-1B Visa

Step 1: Prevailing Wage Determination

Applicants for the H-1B visa must consult either an employment office with jurisdiction over their location of employment or a satisfactory wage survey source to obtain a prevailing wage determination.

Step 2: Filing an Application with the U.S. Department of Labor

Once the prevailing wage determination is made, applicants must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) online with the Department of Labor. In the LCA, the employer provides assurance to the Department of Labor that his or her decision to hire a worker from abroad will not serve as a detriment to comparable workers in the United States.

Step 3: Applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Once the LCA is certified, it is then submitted, together with the H-1B classification petition, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In order to apply to USCIS, applicants must have:

  • proof of qualifications
  • proof that the position of employment being offered is in accordance with existing criteria put in place
  • forms providing an adequate job description and information about the employer and the applicant

Below are forms needed for inclusion in one’s application:

  • If the applicant is filing his or her case under premium processing, he or she needs to sign and complete Form I-907.
  • Form G-28, filled out and signed
  • Form I-129, filled out and signed
  • Supplement H, filled out and signed
  • Form I-129 H-1B Data Collection Supplement, filled out and signed
  • Labor Condition Application (LCA), filled out and signed
  • A copy of the applicant’s latest Form I-94
  • If applicable, a copy of Form I-20 and evidence of authorization of employment is needed for applicants with F-1 status.
  • If applicable, those applicants with L or H status must submit photocopies of all current and previous notices approving their L or H status, as well as current evidence of wages earned. Such evidence can include the applicant’s last three pay stubs.
  • If an applicant has J-1 status, he or she must submit copies of Form IAP-66 as well as evidence of a request for a J-1 waiver or evidence of the J-1 waiver itself.
  • A letter written by the applicant’s employer demonstrating support for the H-1 visa petition
  • Evidence of the applicant’s qualifications, both professional and academic, which can include educational degree certificates, educational evaluation forms and statements, résumés, educational transcripts, and experience letters.
  • Occasionally, more information will be requested by USCIS to substantiate certain portions of one’s application.

Required Employer Documentation

  • The applicant’s employer must keep on hand in his or her office documentation in support of various statements made in the LCA application, such as the prevailing wage determination. Remember that this must be obtained from one’s local employment office or an acceptable wage survey source.
  • This documentation is meant to be kept on file. Employers do not have to submit it to the Department of Labor.
  • If this documentation is not kept on file, an employer could suffer a ban on hiring more H-1B workers and a financial penalty.

Filing a Complaint about the LCA

If one has a complaint concerning mistruths in the LCA, he or she can use the WH-4 Form to file such a complaint and submit it to the office of the Wage and Hour Division, Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. Click here for a listing of such office locations or visiting http://www.dol.gov.esa.

 

 

Instructions for Filing an LCA at the Client Site

Employers at non-unionized businesses are required to post two copies of “Notice of Filing of LCA” at each location where the applicant employee will work. The notices cannot be posted more than 30 days before the filing of the LCA. The notices also have to be put up in places where people are likely to see them, such as company announcement/bulletin boards. Once posted, the notices must remain so, and stay in plain view for at least ten business days.

Information for Employers on Payment and Benching

It should be noted that benching is not permitted. Unless a foreign worker asks for personal time off from work, employers must pay their foreign employees their normal, required wage for any time spent as bench time, or in nonproductive status.

 

LCA Attestations

 

Employers must make several attestations in the LCA in order for the Department of Labor to certify it. The attestations are as follows:

 

  • The employer will pay the H-1B employee the required wage in accordance with the LCA.

 

  • The wage is required to be the greater of either the prevailing wage rate for the occupation in the area of employment, or the actual wage rate that the employer pays to all other employees at the same job location who possess “similar experience and qualifications for the specific employment in question.”

 

  • Employers are to offer the same benefits package using the same eligibility and participation criteria to H-1B and U.S. workers who are similarly employed.

 

  • Employers are not allowed to deny benefits to H-1B workers based on their having temporary status.

 

  • Employers must ensure as best as possible that employing workers with H-1B status will not have an adverse effect on similarly situated workers’ employment conditions in the area where they intend to hire H-1B workers.

 

  • The employer must not file a LCA when there is a lockout, work stoppage, or strike due to a labor dispute at the location of employment. Employers must notify the Department of Labor of any such lockout, work stoppage, or strike that occurs after submission of the LCA within three days of such an event. Until the Department of Labor makes the determination that such an event is over, the USCIS will not accept any LCA used to support an H-1B petition.

 

  • Employers must provide their H-1B workers with a copy of the LCA.

 

  • Employers must provide notice that they have filed the LCA to his or her employees’ bargaining representative. If no bargaining representative exists, employers must post notice of the filing of the LCA on their premises.

 

  • Employers may give bonuses to certain employees for their special skills, performance, and the like.

 

Instructions for Employers Looking to Place H-1 Workers at Non-LCA Listed Locations

Employers wishing to have their H-1B employee work at a location not originally listed on the LCA as a place where the employer tends to have the employee work should file a new LCA, making sure to list the new location or locations there. In addition, a new prevailing wage determination must be obtained for every additional location, and employers must post a notice of the filing of the LCA at every additional location.

However, there are exceptions to these general requirements. The exceptions are noted below:

  • Travel of the employee to “non-worksite locations”
  • Employee travel for development purposes
  • Short-term assignment travel for work-related purposes

 

Detailed Information on H-1B Employee Movement to Locations Not Originally Listed in the LCA

  • Employers must post a notice of the LCA at each new location within the area of intended employment found on the original LCA. This posting must take place the day before or the same day in which the employee starts working at that particular location. Employers must post such information even when the time period for work at that location is only one day.
  • If the H-1B worker is sent to work at different locations from those on the original LCA that are located outside of the areas of intended employment found on the original LCA, in general, the employer must file a new LCA listing those locations. It is a general rule, also, that there must be a filing and approval of an amended petition when there is a requirement for a new LCA.
  • A new LCA or H-1 Amendment is not required when a) there is travel to locations that can be described as “non-worksite” locations; b) travel takes place for development purposes of the employee; and c) travel is done for short-term, work-related assignments.

Dismissal Requirements

In certain circumstances, a foreign worker’s employer dismisses him or her from employment. If this occurs, and the employee has H-1B status at the time, the employer may be responsible for paying that employee’s expenses needed to return to his or her last foreign residency location. However, if the employee had H-1B status but then had that status changed, such as to one of being a permanent resident, the employer will not be held liable for paying for the employee’s return expenses.

Extending an Employee’s H-1B Status

The initial H-1B petition is valid for a maximum of three years. However, one can obtain extensions of stay beyond that period for up to three additional years. In order to be granted such an extension, the employer, or a representative of the employer, must submit forms I-129, I-129 H-1B, and H Supplement to the USCIS. These are the same forms that were part of the applicant’s original H-1B petition. The USCIS will not retrieve initial H-1B petition information to review when making a determination in a case for extension.

Limited Exceptions to the Three Year Maximum Extension Rule

If a labor certification application is filed, extensions for one year are allowed if the application is pending for at least one year. Also, if an approval is granted for an I-140, the beneficiary can receive an extension of three years. Such extensions are allowed until a decision has been reached on the petition or application for an immigrant visa.

Transfers of H1-B Workers

 

Employees with H-1B status wishing to change employers while retaining their H-1B status must have the new employer or his or her representative submit an I-129 petition to USCIS. This petition will be treated as a new one. Filing fees must be paid for this new petition.   Family members of the H-1B employee will not have to take action because of the change of employer, since their H-4 status as legal nonimmigrants is not employer specific.

 

 

 

 

 

Visa Renewals

 

While it is customary for an H-1B employee’s visa to be issued for the approved H-1B petition’s period of validity, some circumstances are such that a worker may receive a visa for a shorter time period. The H-1B worker will most likely have to renew his or her visa in either situation if he or she is to stay in the United States for the period up to the 3-year maximum extension. In addition, if a foreign employee with H-1B status travels outside of the United States once his or her original H-1B visa has expired, he or she will need to obtain a new visa allowing for reentry into the United States.

Renewing One’s Nonimmigrant Visa

H-1B visa holders wishing to renew their nonimmigrant visa should follow the same process that they followed in applying for their H-1B visa initially. A visit can be made to the U.S. consulate or embassy. It is preferable that the consulate or embassy be the same as the one where the applicant obtained his or her initial H-1B visa, although applicants can apply at such installations in a third country, as long as he or she has a visa enter that country. Applicants for visa renewal can provide the relevant documentation once at the consulate or embassy. It often takes less than eight weeks to issue a visa. However, this period can be longer if it takes longer to process one’s security clearance.

Those familiar with the State Department’s domestic visa revalidation program would do well to note that, as of July 17, 2004, the State Department no longer accepts applications for that program.

Family Members of H-1B Visa Holders

The H-4 category applies to H-1B holders’ family members granted admittance to the United States. Only the husband or wife and unmarried children less than 21 years of age of H-1B workers can be considered for H-4 status. Once granted this status, such family members may remain in the United States for the same time period as the H-1B holder. There may be other non-immigrant categories for which such family members may apply. While H-4 holders can pursue studies while in the United States under that category, they are not allowed to be employed in a work capacity.

 

 

 

 

  1. H-1C Registered Nurse working in a Health Professional Shortage Area as Determined by the Department of Labor
    This classification expired on December 20, 2009.

 

  1. H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers
    The H-2A visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which U.S. workers are not available. The maximum period of stay in H-2A classification is three (3) years. Any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-2A worker may seek admission but may not engage in employment in the United States.

 

You are eligible for this visa if:

  • You are offered a job of a temporary or seasonal nature
  • You are available when the employer demonstrates that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able and willing to do the temporary work
  • The employer can show that the employment of H-2A workers will not negatively affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers

H-2A Eligible Countries List effective 01/18/2011 … this list is not exhaustive, if your country does not appear on the list, you may still be eligible for the visa:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Nauru
  • The Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Samoa
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Tonga
  • Turkey
  • Tuvalu
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers
    The H-2B visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs (i.e. athletes, trainers or artists). The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three (3) years. Any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-2B worker may seek admission but may not engage in employment in the United States.

 

You are eligible for this visa if:

  • The employer establishes that its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary (i.e. one-time occurrence, seasonal need)
  • The employer demonstrates that there are not sufficient U.S. workers to do the temporary work
  • The employer shows that the employment of H-2B workers will not negatively affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers

**As of January 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor will require employers to pay H-2B workers whichever is higher – the federal, state or local minimum wage.

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

  1. H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor
    For the purposes of the H-3 visa, a trainee is identified as someone who will receive training (other than graduate or medical education training) that is not available in the alien’s home country. A special education exchange visitor is identified as someone who will participate in a special education exchange visitor training program for children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. This visa is not intended for employment in the United States. Its primary objective is to provide the alien with job related training for work that will be performed in the alien’s home country. If approved for this visa, you may be allowed to remain in the United States for up to two years. Children and spouses may accompany the visa holder but will not be permitted to work in the United States.

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

 

 

I-1       Representatives of Foreign Media

 

I visas are generally available for qualifying members of the foreign media. The I visa grants such professionals entry to the United Sates in a non-immigrant, temporary capacity, and they are required to be visiting for media work purposes and work for an outlet with a home office in a foreign country. One factor that the United States authorities take into consideration when deciding whether to approve I visa requests is whether or not the applicant’s home country grants such visits from U.S. media professionals desiring to travel there for work purposes.

 

I Visa Requirements

 

  • Standing as a member of the foreign media
  • The purpose of travel to the U.S. is to work in a media capacity.
  • The applicant’s media organization must have its home office in a foreign country.
  • Media activity to be carried out must be involved with gathering and reporting news.
  • Media roles include print, press, film, and radio professionals who work as reporters, editors, and film crew members.

 

Information for Family Members of I Visa Holders

 

Derivative I Visas are a possible visa option for both spouses and children under 21 years of age of I visa holders. Such family members must follow the same application procedures as the primary I visa holder. While these family members may pursue studies without having to apply for an F-1 student visa, they are not allowed to be employed while living in the United States in a derivative I visa status.

 

Required Documentation for the I Visa Application

 

All visa applicants ages 14 through 79 must interview at the consular section of a U.S. Embassy or at a U.S. Consulate when applying for a visa. Others generally are not required to be interviewed unless a request is made. Applicants are responsible for setting up appointments for their interview. Visit the link, Visa Wait Times, for more information on wait times for visa processing and interview appointments. Applicants will have to have their fingerprint digitally scanned while applying for visas. This usually takes place at some point during the interview. More administrative processing may be required for some visa applications.

 

The following documents, forms, and fees are needed for I visa applicants:

  • Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, signed and completed. Click here electronic version for the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156.
  • A valid passport allowing for travel to the United States that is valid for at least six months longer than the passport holder’s intended stay there, unless exceptions apply based on country-specific agreements. Click here for more information about such country-specific agreements. Each person included on the passport has to submit their own visa application.
  • A photograph measuring 2 inches by 2 inches. Click here for more information on Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements.

 

 

  • Proof of employment

 

Necessary Documentation for Proof of Employment for the I Visa

 

For staff journalists: An employer-issued letter providing the name of the employee/applicant, name of the position of the employee/applicant, and employee/applicant’s purpose for travel to the U.S and intended length of stay there.

 

For freelance journalists working under contract with a media organization: A copy of the work contract showing the name of the employee/applicant, position with the organization, and purpose for travel to the U.S. and intended length of stay there.

 

For media film crew: An employer-issued letter stating the name, position, title, and information on the program the crew member is filming, as well as the time period needed to complete the filming in the United States.

 

For applicants working for independent production companies under contract with media organizations: An organization-issued letter with the name of the employee/applicant, that person’s work title, and a short explanation of the program to be filmed, as well as the length of the contract and the time period needed to film the program in the United States.

 

Information on Media Professionals and the Visa Waiver Program

 

Media visas must be obtained, even for applicants from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travel is not allowed in a media capacity on the Visa Waiver Program without a visa. Click here for more information on the Visa Waiver Program.

 

To be eligible for this visa you must show that you are a representative of foreign media (such as press, radio, or film) whose activities are essential to the functions of your organization. The length of your stay will depend on the duration of your status. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany and receive an I-1 visa but will not be permitted to work but can study in the United States.

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

 

Information on the J-1/J-2 Visa for Exchange Visitors

 

J-1 and J-2 visas apply to non-immigrant participants in exchange visitor programs. Applicants can apply at the consular section of a U.S. Embassy or a U.S. Consulate for J visas. However, before doing so, applicants be accepted into one of the Exchange Visitor Programs. There are organizations that operate as designated sponsors for these programs. Accepted sponsors provide their participants with the necessary documentation for the J visa application.

 

The Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Exchange Visitor Program. Click here to learn more about this program and its requirements. Program participants are expected to apply the lessons learned and experience gained in the program to their contributions to their home country after the program is over.

 

 

The State Department has selected public and private organizations to act as sponsors of exchange visitors. These organizations help the visitors meet objectives by falling into one of multiple approved categories, which each have their own requirements, including:

  • Research scholar
  • Government visitor
  • International visitor (designated by the State Department)
  • Au pair
  • Secondary or college/university student
  • Specialist
  • Trainee
  • Foreign physician
  • Professor
  • Teacher
  • Summer travel/work

Click here to learn more about the au pair, summer travel/work, camp counselor, trainee, and foreign physician categories of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Exchange Visitor Program, Private Sectors Programs.

Click here to learn more about the 12 month pilot program for summer work and summer travel for New Zealanders and Australians.

Click here to learn more about the 12 month pilot program for intern travel and work for Irish citizens.

Click here to learn more about the professor, specialist, short-term scholar, teacher, post-secondary and college/university student, research scholar, and Government Visitor and International Visitor categories of the exchange visitor/government programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Meeting the Qualifications for Exchange Visitor Visas

Applicants for the J visa, also known as the exchange visitor visa, must meet very specific requirements set forth by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). U.S. consular officers make the determination as to whether applicants qualify for a J visas. The requirements for the J visa include:

  • The intention of the applicant to stay in the United States for a temporary and specific time period;
  • Proof of financial resources necessary to support living in the United States;
  • Demonstration of economic and social ties abroad and ties that will ensure that the applicant returns abroad following their stay.

 

 

 

  1. L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
    The L-1A visa allows a U.S. employer to relocate an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States and allows a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the intention of establishing one. If an employee is coming to the United States to establish a new office they will be granted a visa that will allow them an initial stay of one year. All other employees will be granted a maximum initial stay of three years. No employee will be allowed an extension over seven years. Family members of L-1A visa holders are eligible for visa and spouses of such an employee may be eligible for a work visa.

 

As an employer you are eligible for this visa if:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company; and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.

As an employee you are eligible for this visa if:

  • You have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding your admission to the United States; and
  • You are seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
    The L-1B visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. It also allows a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help create one. If an employee is coming to the United States to establish a new office they will be granted a visa that will allow them an initial stay of one year. All other employees will be granted a maximum initial stay of three years. No employee will be allowed an extension over five years. Family members of L-1B visa holders are eligible for visa and spouses of such an employee may be eligible for a work visa.

 

As an employer you are eligible for this visa if:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company; and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.

As an employee you are eligible for this visa if:

  • You have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding your admission to the United States; and
  • You are seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
    The O-1 visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. An O nonimmigrant is granted an initial stay of three years and may be granted an extension in increments of one year. Family members can join the O nonimmigrant but will not be permitted to work in the United States. However family members will be able to study full or part time during their stay in the United States.

You are eligible for an O-1 visa if:

  • You demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and come temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
  • You demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete
    You are eligible for this visa 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. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain status but may not engage in employment. They will be able to attend school or college.

 

Initial stay/Extension by category:

Individual Athlete     Not to exceed five years/Total stay is limited to ten years

Athletic Group                      Not to exceed one year/Increments of up to one year

Essential Support Personnel          Not to exceed one year/Total stay is limited to ten years

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. P-1B A Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
    This 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. Individual entertainers who are not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa. You may be granted an initial stay of one year and then extensions in increments of a year. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain status but are not eligible for employment. They will be able to attend school or college.

 

You are eligible for this visa if:

  • At least 75% of the members of your group have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year.
  • Your entertainment group is internationally recognized

 

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. P-2 Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program

This 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 may be granted an initial stay of one year and then extensions in increments of a year. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain status but are not eligible for employment. They will be able to attend school or college. You are eligible for this visa if you are an artist entering the United States through a government recognized reciprocal exchange program.

 

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program

You are eligible for the P-3 visa 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 to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of your art form. You may be granted an initial stay of one year and then extensions in increments of a year. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may obtain status but are not eligible for employment. They will be able to attend school or college.

 

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. Q Cultural Exchange

Only employers are eligible to petition for Q nonimmigrants. You may be eligible for a Q visa if you are seeking to participate in an international cultural exchange program. The Q visa is for the purpose of providing practical training and employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of your home country with the United States. Q nonimmigrants are granted an initial stay up to 15 months and are then given thirty days to depart the United States. Q nonimmigrants are required to spend a year outside of the U.S. before they can be considered for another Q visa. Family members are not able to accompany the Q nonimmigrant.

 

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers
    Foreign nationals who are coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. Individuals under the R-1 status are granted an initial stay for up to thirty months. An extension may be granted for an additional thirty months. Total stay in the U.S. cannot exceed sixty months. Dependents of an R-1 worker are not eligible for employment while in the U.S.

 

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.

 

  1. TN NAFTA Professionals
    This visa allows qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the U.S. to engage in business activities at a professional level. Professionals in the fields of accounting, engineering, and teaching (to name a few) are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants. You may be granted up to three years as an initial period of stay. This visa is eligible for an extension. Spouses and children are allowed to accompany TN nonimmigrants but cannot work while in the U.S., but are permitted to study.

 

You are eligible for TN nonimmigrant status if:

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • You are qualified professionally
  • The position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional
  • You have already arranged for a full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer

 

Our firm will discuss your options and file the appropriate forms.