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Employment Visa for Individuals
There are numerous immigrant and non-immigrant work visas. The procedures for obtaining them are complex, difficult and time consuming. Luckily, we will guide you through the whole process.
Employment Visas for Companies
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Employment Based Immigration Information
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Employment Based Immigrant Visas (Green Cards)
People with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, can qualify for a green card in order to come to the U.S. to work in their field of expertise.
In this green card category, no job offer is necessary. Nor is it necessary in this category to obtain a labor certification in order to prove that the person is not displacing a U.S. worker.
To qualify in the EB-1 green card category for aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics, it is necessary to show that the alien is among the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field, either at the national or international level.
There is a special green card category available to outstanding professors and researchers who have at least three years of experience in teaching or research in their field, and who have received international recognition for their work.
If you own a business in your home country, you can establish a U.S. affiliate company, and after it has been in operation for at least one year, you can apply for a green card in the EB-1 Multinational Executive and Manager green card category (Employment-based, first category). Likewise, if you are an executive or managerial employee of a multinational company and are being transferred to an affiliate located in the U.S., you can apply for a green card in this EB-1 category.
People who cannot satisfy the requirements of the EB-1 extraordinary alien green card category, but who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, can qualify in the EB-2 green card category for aliens of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. People in this category must, however, obtain a labor certification. An immigrant in this category must also have a "sponsor," a U.S. business, non-profit organization, or educational institution, which petitions for the immigrant.
Once the person obtains the labor certification, the sponsor must file a petition to qualify the immigrant in the EB-2 green card category for aliens of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
People who cannot satisfy the requirements of the EB-1 extraordinary alien green card category, but who are professionals with advanced degrees, can qualify in the EB-2 professionals with advanced degrees green card category. People in this category must, however, obtain a labor certification. An immigrant in this category must also have a U.S. business, non-profit organization, or educational institution, which petitions for the immigrant.
Once the person obtains the labor certification, the sponsor must file a petition to qualify the immigrant in the EB-2 professional with advanced degree green card category, and must prove that the job requires no less than a professional with an advanced degree.
Professionals and skilled workers can qualify in the EB-3 green card category for professionals and skilled workers. People in this category must, however, obtain a Labor Certification.
An immigrant in this category must also have a so-called "sponsor," a U.S. business, non-profit organization, or educational institution, which petitions for the immigrant. Once the person obtains the labor certification, the sponsor must file a petition to qualify the immigrant in the EB-3 green card category for professionals and skilled workers.
The sponsor must prove that it has adequate income or assets to pay the immigrant the so-called prevailing wage, which is the average wage paid to workers in the same or a similar field in the region where the sponsor is located.
The immigrant must prove that he/she is sufficiently qualified for the position. To qualify as a "professional," the person must hold a baccalaureate degree in the same or similar field, or for a skilled-worker position, the person must have at least 2 years of practical experience in the same or similar field, or more years of experience, depending on the skill level required by the position.
You certainly can’t tell who a “special immigrant” visa is meant to cover by its name. In fact, this visa category (technically, the employment fourth preference category) is an odd one, created by Congress for various visas that don’t seem to fit anywhere else. It comprises numerous subcategories, as described below.
There is a limit on visas in this category: Only 10,000 green cards in total become available annually for all the special immigrant categories combined. No more than 5,000 of these can be allocated toward religious workers who are not ministers or members of the clergy. No more than 1,500 can be allocated to Afghan nationals who worked for the U.S. government while in their country. No more than 5,000 per year can be allocated to nationals of Iraq who worked for or with the U.S. government there.
Foreign investors must meet specific United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) requirements to obtain their permanent residency through the EB-5 visa program. In general, the investor must meet capital investment amount requirements, job creation requirements, and ensure that the business receiving the investment qualifies for the EB-5 program. EB-5 visa applicants, their spouse, and their children under 21 will obtain their permanent residency green card once all requirements have been successfully met and approved by the USCIS.
Required EB-5 Investment Amount
EB-5 visa applicants are typically required to make either a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment amount into a U.S. commercial enterprise. The EB-5 investment can take the form of cash, inventory, equipment, secured indebtedness, tangible property, or cash equivalents and is valuated based on U.S. dollar fair-market value.The minimum amount of capital required for the EB-5 visa program may be decreased from $1 million to $500,000 if the investment is made in a commercial entity that is located in a targeted employment area (TEA). The EB-5 project must either be in a rural area or in an area that has high unemployment in order to qualify for TEA designation.High unemployment areas are geographic locations with an unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent of the national unemployment rate at the time of the EB-5 investment. Rural areas are geographic regions that are outside of a city with a population of 20,000 or more. Rural areas can also be geographic regions that are outside of what the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has designated as metropolitan statistical areas.
EB-5 Job Creation Requirements
The USCIS requires that EB-5 investments result in the creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. These jobs must be created within the two year period after the investor has received their conditional permanent residency. In some cases, the investor must be able to prove that their investment led to the creation of direct jobs for employees who work directly within the commercial entity that received the investment. However, the EB-5 investor may only have to show that 10 full-time indirect or induced jobs were created if the investment was made in a regional center. Indirect jobs are those created in businesses that supply goods or services to the EB-5 project. Induced jobs are jobs created within the greater community as a result of income being spent by EB-5 project employees.
EB-5 Business Entities
There are several types of business entities in which an EB-5 visa applicant can invest. In general, the applicants can invest directly in a new commercial enterprise or in a regional center. New commercial enterprises are lawful for-profit entities that can take one of many different business structures. Such business structures include corporations, limited or general partnerships, sole proprietorships, business trusts, or other privately or publicly owned business structures. All new commercial enterprises must have been established after November 29, 1990.
However, older commercial enterprises may qualify if the investment leads to a 40-percent increase in the number of employees or net worth, or if an older business is restructured to such a degree that a new commercial enterprise results. In addition to individual business enterprises, EB-5 visa applicants can also invest in EB-5 Regional Centers. Regional centers administer EB-5 projects. It may be more advantageous for an investor to invest in a regional center-run project because the investor will not have to independently set up the EB-5 projects.
EB-5 Visa Requirements Summary
$1 million capital investment, $500,000 in a TEA
The investment must be made in a for-profit U.S. commercial entity
The investment must create 10 full-time U.S. jobs for two years
Employment Based Non-Immigrant Visas (temporary)
The E1 Visa allows individuals, or employees of companies, to enter the U.S. for the purpose of carrying out international trade.
The definition of “trade” is not strict. It may apply to the trade of goods, of services, and even banking. There is no set limit to the amount of trade that must take place, although greater emphasis is placed on the number of transactions over total value. An E1 visa may also cover immediate family (legal spouse and unmarried children under 21). The spouse of the visa holder is permitted to work, but children are not.
E1 Visa Requirements
- The visa holder must show they intend to engage in “substantial trade”, which is not strictly defined.
- At least 50% of the volume of trade carried out must be between the United States and the designated treaty country (“principal trade”).
- The trade could be in the form of physical movement of goods, transportation, or non-physical services, including banking and insurance, tourism, technology, or journalism.
- The visa holder must be a national of one of the treaty countries (this requirement does not apply to family members).
As with other US Visa terms, the applicant should be prepared to provide evidence that they intend to return to their home country at the end of the visa period (although see note on extensions below).
General Qualifications for an E-2 (Treaty Investor) Visa
To qualify for an E-2 (Treaty Investor) visa, an alien applicant must meet specific requirements:
- The alien must be a national of a treaty country;
- The alien must have invested, or be investing, a substantial amount of capital in an enterprise in the U.S.;
- The alien must be seeking a U.S. visa solely to develop and direct this investment enterprise. This can be proven by evidencing that the alien owns at least 50% of the enterprise, or that he/she possesses operational control of the enterprise through a managerial position, etc.
The USCIS considers investment to be the placement of capital, by the treaty investor, into an enterprise with the intention to generate profit. Such investment can include funds or other assets. Significantly, the capital must be subject to loss if the investment fails. Additionally, the treaty investor must prove that the funds were not obtained from criminal activity.
The L-1A intra-company transferee classification applies to qualified executives and managers within multinational companies. These individuals can be transferred from their foreign employer to work for up to seven years in the United States for an appropriately affiliated U.S. company. The company must continue to operate as a multinational company for the duration of the employee’s L1A status.
Classification as executive or managerial is appropriate for employees who are primarily responsible for: directing management or managing an organization, department, subdivision, or component of the company. It is also possible to qualify by demonstrating that the employee has supervisory responsibilities over professional or managerial employees or manages an essential function within the organization. This classification is not appropriate for low level managers.
There are NO annual limitations on the number of L1As that can be approved, and there are NO specific wage requirements for L1A employees.
The H-1B visa provides the opportunity for foreign professionals to work in the United States. It allows employers to hire qualified foreign workers in the U.S. in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. The foreign professional has the possibility to obtain a U.S. position based on his/her acquired skills. In order to be eligible for the H-1B Visa, the U.S. employer and potential employee are obligated to adhere to the USCIS conditions and regulations. The H-1B visa requirements strive to ensure that the U.S. employer and foreign professional comply with the Department of Labor standards. A major part of this compliance is filing for a Labor Condition Application (LCA).
The H-2 visa allows a worker to enter the U.S. and work for a temporary time period. The visa category is divided into two groups, H-2A, temporary agricultural workers, and H-2B, temporary nonagricultural workers.
The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia. You must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
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 United States requires a NAFTA professional;
- You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment - see documentation required below); and
- You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
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. Their essential support personnel may also be granted visas with the same letter-number designations.
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