Professional workers who are foreign nationals have several options to obtain a temporary visa to the United States:
- H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa for Professional Workers
The professional worker's employer may file an H-1B petition for his/her employee. A specialty occupation is one which requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent, to enter into the occupation in the United States, and the position requires a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge. In some instances, work experience may be substituted for education requirements, provided certain requirements are met.
An approved Labor Condition Attestation (LCA) is required prior to the filing of the petition. The LCA ensures that the wages and working conditions do not undermine those for U.S. workers in the same or comparable position. The H-1B visa may be approved for up to three years, and it can be extended for a total of six years. If an application for permanent residency is submitted at least one year prior to the end of the sixth year, additional yearly extensions may be granted. Spouses and minor children are eligible for H-4 dependent status, which does not grant employment authorization.
Additional categories of H visas include those for professional nurses working in health professional shortage areas (H-1C), temporary agricultural workers (H-2A), skilled and unskilled workers provided USCs/LPRs unavailable (H-2B), and trainees (H-3).
Visas for business personnel are (H, L, E, I, O, P, Q, and R visas) are characterized by the approval for employment in the United States, a longer duration than B (visitor) visas, may facilitate residency (L and E), and include a stamp in the passport indicating duration of stay (D/S)
- L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa, and L-2
The L-1 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 employer must petition on behalf of the employee. The employer and employer each must meet certain additional requirements to be eligible for this nonimmigrant visa.
The L-1 visa may be granted quickly, and permits the holder to travel in and out of the United States or remain continuously until the L-1 period of stay expires. the approved visa allows a period of stay from one to three years, with a maximum of seven years after extensions. L-1A visas held by managers and executives permits the application for a green card without going through the labor certification process. Dependents of the L-1 holder may apply for L-2 status, which grants the same period of stay as that granted to the principal applicant. Additionally, spouses of L-1 holders may apply for work permits, and if authorized, work without any restrictions.
- TN NAFTA Professionals, and TD Visa:
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:
- You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico
- Your profession qualifies under the regulations
- The position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional
- You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer
- You have the qualifications of the profession
TN visa holders are permitted to travel outside the United States. Dependents of TN visa holders may apply for TD status, if eligible. Spouses and children cannot work in the U.S., but may be permitted to study. The TN visa permits the visa holder to remain in the United States for three years, with the possibility of an extension of stay. Certain additional requirements and qualifications apply, depending upon whether the TN applicant is a Canadian national or Mexican national
The optimal visa option in your case may vary depending on your particular circumstances and situation. To determine the best course of action in your individual case, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.