Business Immigration Services - Overview
THERE ARE MANY IMMIGRANT AND NON-IMMIGRANT CATEGORIES. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE MOST COMMON AREAS THAT A BUSINESS WILL ADDRESS IN THEIR SPONSORSHIP OF VARIOUS EMPLOYEES, EXECUTIVES, AND INVESTORS.
1) E-1/E-2 (Treaty Trader/Investor Visa )
E-1 visa allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for the purpose of directing and developing import/export trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. By various reciprocal treaties of trade and navigation between the United States and selected foreign countries, certain foreign investors may qualify for the E-1 treaty trader visa.
This highly desired non-immigrant visa is available to nationals of treaty countries who conduct import or export trade between the United States and the trader's home country and whose presence is necessary to direct and develop that import/export enterprise. This visa classification has several significant advantages for qualified foreign investors
A Treaty Trader must be a national of one of the treaty countries, and the volume of trade must be substantial for an individual to be deemed eligible. The trade involved could include the exchange of goods, services or technology, and 50% of the trade must be with the U.S. and the treaty country of origin of the person who is applying for the visa.
A Treaty Investor has criteria to meet to be granted an E-2 visa. The investment in the U.S. must be substantial. It must be of an amount that is of high enough value to ensure the success of the venture. The venture must be an operating enterprise, not a speculative or non-functioning investment. Any funds held in a bank or other security that are not part of an actual operating enterprise will not be considered an investment and will not meet the eligibility requirements for an E-2 visa.
Qualified investors are entitled to request E-2 status for their spouses and children. Spouses can maintain this status indefinitely, if the principal investor continues to qualify and that the marriage continues intact. Children can retain E-2 status until they reach twenty-one years of age.
2) E-3 Visa for Australian Nationals / Citizens to Live and Work in the USA
The E-3 visa classification applies only to nationals of Australia as well as their spouses and children. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation. The spouse and children need not be Australian citizens.
The Requirements for an E3 visa:
You need to be an Australian citizen, you have the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials, your stay will be temporary, you have a legitimate offer of employment in the US and the job position you are coming to perform qualifies as specialty occupation employment. In certain cases, before you may commence employment in the specialty occupation you have to obtain necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation.
3) H-1B Visa and H4 for Dependents:
The H-1B is a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa category that allows employers to petition for highly educated foreign professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. Jobs in fields such as mathematics, engineering, and technology often qualify.
H1-B Visas are
· Available for temporary entry to work in a “specialty occupation” – i.e. requiring a tertiary educational qualification
· Requires US employer to sponsor
· Available to all nationalities (65,000 per fiscal year plus an additional 20,000 for those who have earned a US master’s degree or higher)
· Generally, spouses are not entitled to work in the US, except in certain circumstances
· Generally valid for a maximum of six years
· The sponsoring employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the US Department of Labor and an I-129 Petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
H-4 visas are issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.
An H4 visa gives spouses and children under 21 of H1B visa holders the ability to join the visa holder in the US. H4 visa holders can legally:
· Get a driver’s license
· Open bank accounts
· Go to school
· Be eligible for an ITIN (Tax ID)
· Receive a social security number
4) Green Card
The US Green Card, also known as the permanent resident card, gives the holder permanent residence in the United States. Green Card holders can legally live and work in the United States. They can also travel in and out of the country more freely. The US Green Card is the first step toward US citizenship as one must generally secure a Green Card before applying for naturalization.
To be eligible for a Green Card, an applicant must belong to one of the immigrant categories outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It is common to obtain a Green Card by marriage, but, generally, all applicants must be eligible to enter the US through employment, investment, family, refugee status, or through some other pre-established means. Applicants must be admissible into the United States to qualify for a US Green Card. There must be no security, health, or criminal issues which would make an applicant ineligible to enter the US. Once you receive your Green Card, it will be valid for ten years.
You can use your Green Card to prove employment eligibility in the United States when completing the Form, I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, apply for a Social Security Card and a state issued driver’s license.
A Green Card is valid for readmission to the United States after a trip abroad if you do not leave for longer than 1 year. If your trip will last longer than 1 year, a reentry permit is needed.
5) L-1 Visa and L2 for dependents:
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables 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 purpose of establishing one.
The L-1 visa is broken down into two subcategories: The L-1A for managers and executives, and the L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge. Each has its own requirements and duration of stay.
For the L-1A visa, holders will be granted an initial three years of stay in the U.S. They can then extend their stay to a maximum of seven years, However, the L-1B visa can only be extended to a maximum of five years, making its period of stay a disadvantage when compared to other work visas.
If you are in the U.S. on L-1 status, you will be able to bring your spouse and children along with you through the L2 visa. Also, if they qualify for Employment Authorization Documents, they will be able to work in the U.S. as well. This is a great L-1 benefit because it allows your spouse and dependents to make supplementary income to help support the family if necessary.
6) O-1 Visa for individuals with extraordinary ability.
O-1 visas are available to people who have not only a job offer in the U.S., but proven extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
To meet the O-1 visa standards, the applicant must be able to show extraordinary ability and receipt of sustained national or international acclaim for it. This can be demonstrated if the person has gotten a major internationally recognized award, such as an Olympic medal or a Pulitzer Prize, or has accomplished at least three of the following:
· received a nationally recognized prize or award for excellence
· attained membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members in a particular field of expertise, as judged by recognized national or international experts
· been the subject of published material in professional or major trade publications or major media (regarding you and your work)
· participated, on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in your field
made an original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contribution of major significance to the field
· authored scholarly articles in professional journals or major media
· been previously employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization with a distinguished reputation, or
· command or have commanded a high salary or other outstanding remuneration for your services.
Dependents of an O1 visa holder (i.e. spouse or unmarried children under age 21) can apply for O3 visas, which allow them to accompany the primary visa holder for the duration of their stay in the United States, either arriving with the O1 holder or later. O3 visa holders are permitted to study but not to work in the U.S.
7) P-Visa (Internationally recognized Athlete, member of Internationally recognized Entertainment Group )
A short-term U.S. work visa known as the P visa is available to outstanding athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment companies (including circuses) with a job offer from a U.S. employer.
P visa classifications are as follows:
· P-1 applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group (P-1B) that are internationally recognized. A maximum of 25,000 P visas are issued annually.
· P-2 applies to artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program.
· P-3 applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique.
· P-4 is for the spouse, or child under the age of 21, of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien and who is accompanying, or following to join, the alien.
The petitioning employer, agent, or sponsoring organization must file a Form I-129 (Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker) for all P-1, P-2 and P-3 petitions with the USCIS in order to determine their eligibility for the visa and review the services to be performed while in the United States, before the alien may apply for a visa or seek admission into the country.
8) TN Visas for citizens of Canada and Mexico
The TN Visa was created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to facilitate a temporary employment in the United States for approved Canadian and Mexican citizens. The purpose was to strengthen business and trade relations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
There are two different types of TN status in which these citizens can apply for. A TN-1 is for Canadian professionals and a TN-2 is for Mexican professionals. The applicants need to be qualified under one of the listed professions.
Persons entering in TN status may work for the petitioning U.S. entity on a temporary basis. Aliens may be admitted for a maximum initial period of stay of three years and are eligible to receive extensions in increments of up to three years, without no outside limit on the total period of stay. Derivatives of TN visa holders are admitted as TD nonimmigrants and no separate application or filing fee payment needs to be made.
There are a total of 63 occupational categories. Examples of these designated professions include Accountants, Architects, Computer Systems Analysts, Engineers, Hotel Managers, Lawyers, Social Workers, certain Medical Professionals, and certain Scientists.
9) EB5 investor visa
The EB-5 investor visa program enables foreigners who make an investment in a U.S. business to obtain a green card and become lawful permanent residents, and eventual citizens, of the United States. The investment can lead to a green card for the investor to permanently live and work in the United States with their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.
To qualify, applicants need to invest or be in the process of investing $1 million in a new commercial enterprise (NCE). If applicants choose to invest in targeted employment areas (TEAs) or in regional centers approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the minimum investment amount is lowered to $500,000. Cash, cash equivalents, and indebtedness secured by investor-owned assets, as well as equipment, inventory, and other tangible property are all acceptable investments for an EB-5.
An EB-5 investor first receives a conditional card before he or she can receive a green card without conditions. When the investor successfully applies for a removal of conditions, the investor and his immediate family members are given permanent green cards.
The chief requirement for the EB-5 visa of an alien applicant’s investment is the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. employees. EB-5 investors are not required to hire 10 or more U.S. workers right at the time they initially invest their capital. Rather, they can provide U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a comprehensive business plan evidencing the need for at least 10 full-time employees “within a reasonable time” after investment.