Types of US Work Visas
Business immigration is integral to the United States economy as much as it is important for so many companies and organizations to grow their businesses. Employers and work visa applicants, however, face complex legal requirements that can be time-consuming, confusing, and problematic.
What is Business Immigration?
Business immigration is the visa framework allowing noncitizens who meet certain eligibility criteria to enter the United States to work on a temporary or permanent basis.
There is a range of business immigration visas available, many of which require a job offer from a U.S. employer or sponsor.
Business immigration visas can be nonimmigrant (i.e., temporary) or immigrant (i.e., permanent). Nonimmigrant visas allow a person to travel to the United States for a fixed period to obtain valuable experience and assist U.S. businesses or organizations. These nonimmigrant visas can be obtained for different purposes, including sports, entertainment or the arts, international cultural exchanges, and religious purposes. Immigrant visas, on the other hand, allow individuals to obtain a green card, providing a potential pathway to eventual citizenship.
Spouses and children of business visa holders can also obtain visas to live in the United States.
While the specific process and requirements for each visa are different, petitions are processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Common Types of Nonimmigrant Work Visas
Each business visa category has specific eligibility criteria, so it's important to check whether you meet these before applying. Here are some examples of non-immigrant work visas categories
The E-1 and E-2 visas are nonimmigrant visa categories available to individuals from certain treaty countries who wish to engage in international trade or invest in a business in the United States.
One of the most popular nonimmigrant visa categories, H-1B visa is for specialty occupations and includes positions like:
- Civil Engineers
- Database Communication and Network Administrators
- Graphic Designers
- Mechanical Engineers
- Software Engineers
- Systems Analysts and Programmers
- University Professors
An initial H-1B visa is for a three-year period, which can be extended up to six years.
This visa requires an offer of employment from a U.S. organization. The role must also meet specific criteria which typically include a bachelor's degree.
The number of H-1B visas is capped. The demand for this visa type outpaces the visas availability.
The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant business visa that allows international companies to transfer qualified employees to an existing U.S. office or bring them to the United States to establish one.
To be eligible for an L-1 visa, the applicant must work in a managerial/executive capacity or possess specialized knowledge.
If they are setting up a new U.S. office, the initial period of an L-1 visa is one year, and for a transfer, it is three years. L-1 visas can be extended up to a maximum of five or seven years, depending on the classification.
The O-1 allows individuals with extraordinary ability to work in the United States in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or motion picture or television industry. It requires an offer of employment from a U.S. employer and allows the holder to stay for an initial period of three years.
The P-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category designed for internationally recognized athletes, entertainers, and artists coming to the United States temporarily to participate in a specific athletic competition, performance, or event. The P-1 visa is also available for essential support personnel accompanying the P-1 visa holder.
The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa for certain qualified professionals from Canada and Mexico, including lawyers, accountants, scientists, and teachers. It requires a job offer from a U.S. employer and allows an individual to live and work in the United States for an initial period of three years.
Common Challenges to Business Immigration
While many dream of immigrating to the United States to live and work, the business immigration system presents several challenges.
Restrictive Immigration Quotas
Most business visa categories are strictly capped and demand often outweighs availability.
High Barriers to Entry
The visa process itself can be expensive, while some visas, such as an investment visa, require significant amounts of capital. Employers' obligations under business immigration visas are onerous and not all businesses have the resources to support them.
Highly Complex Processes
Like most immigration laws, the business immigration visa system is complex. There are strict eligibility criteria to meet and navigating the system can be a challenging and lengthy process.
How Can the Immigration Attorney Marcin Muszynski Help Your Company?
Marcin Muszynski, Esq. helps businesses and organizations meet their goals through our immigration legal services. As you may know, business immigration is a lengthy, complex process. We do the work for you, ensuring that the workers you need are the ones you get, and that the required research, paperwork, and follow-up are timely and properly completed. At a minimum, we provide:
- Advice on the best business visa for your purpose
- Help with employment eligibility documentation
- Guidance during unannounced visa petition immigration audits
- Guidance with the image program and e-verification system
- Due diligence and care
There's much more we can do, too, for business immigration, family immigration, and more. The most important thing we offer is integrity and thoroughness during the immigration process.