US WORK VISA & VISA LAWYER SERVICES
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A.) US L-1A Visa and L-1B Visas
The United States L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows overseas companies to transfer executives and managers and specialized knowledge employees to a new or existing US office for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the US Company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years. This can be an excellent way for businesses to expand into the US with a minimal investment.
The requirements for employment based immigration (permanent residence) under the EB1-C immigrant scheme are similar to the requirements for the L-1A Executive and Manager Visa category. Many overseas executives and managers come under the L-1A visa scheme first and then apply at a later date for EB1-C which is one of the best ways of gaining an immigrant visa (green card).
Companies operating in the US can apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L-1 visa to transfer someone to the US from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for USA L-1 visas:
L-1A Executives and Managers:
The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L-1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years.
L-1B Specialized Knowledge Staff:
This category covers those with knowledge of the company’s products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staffs in this category are issued an L-1B visa, initially for three years extendable to a maximum of five years. On completing the maximum allowable period in L-1 status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.
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Further information, help, and advice
Uscispassportvisa.com’s team of specialists has over 32 years of experience in immigration services, and has helped millions of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
B.) US B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa
B-1 in lieu of H-1B Visa faster alternative to the US L-1 and H-1B visa
It is usually, expensive and difficult to obtain non-immigrant temporary work visas such as the H-1B visa for graduate level staff or intra-company transfer visas such as the L-1A visa for managers and executives or L-1B visa for specialized knowledge employees. The B1 in lieu of H1B visa grants entry usually for multiple entries for up to a year for a short term work need in the US. Usually the work is done based on a contract between the US Company and the overseas business. The US Company could be in the same group of companies as the overseas company.
The H-1B visa is oversubscribed about three times over in the beginning of April each year to start in October in the same year. Therefore the likelihood of success is low.
The L-1A or L-1B visa requires the applicant to have worked for the overseas business for at least one year in the last three years. The overseas business must have a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate office in the US. It is frequently not possible to meet these requirements.
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa or E-1 Treaty Trader visa requires the business to first be registered which can be a time consuming and difficult process. In addition only certain nationalities can apply for this visa.
In some circumstances for graduate level employees it may be worth looking at the B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa instead of some of the longer term work visas. If you wish to send people over to the US for work quickly in a matter of weeks and the work is the sort of work you would expect to be done by a graduate level employee this visa is worth considering.
This provision is useful when a non-US company wishes to send a member of staff to the US for a limited period in order to undertake specific projects for clients, or where you wish to bring in an employee of an overseas subsidiary, affiliate or parent for a limited period. The requirements for acquiring a B1 in lieu of H1B visa are as follows:
B-1 in lieu of H-1B Visa Requirements
The work to be undertaken in the US must be H1B level – i.e. the skilled worker must be engaged in a ‘specialty occupation’ in graduate level work usually requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent;
The worker will usually need to be a permanent employee of the non US business and must continue to be paid by the employer outside the US while in the US on a B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa;
The worker most remains on the payroll of the overseas business. The worker may receive no compensation other than an expense allowance from a US source;
The graduate level worker must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Ideally the bachelor’s degree should be relevant to the services to be provided – in some circumstances work experience and other qualifications may be considered to be equivalent to a degree.
B-1 in lieu of H-1B Visa Documentation Requirements:
The B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa can usually be obtained within a few weeks, and requires considerably more supporting documentation compared to a normal B-1 business visitor visa. Periods of admission and extension are usually the same as for the standard B-1 business visitor visa (i.e. generally 6 months).
Typical documentation for a B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa application include copy of bachelor’s degree for the applicant, rental agreement for the applicant, company accounts, payroll records, curriculum vitae, bank statements, contract with the US business, etc.
B-1 in lieu of H-1B Procedures on entry to the US
It should be noted that in rare circumstances, holders of this visa encounters problems when trying to enter the US.
This is because while it is issued by a US Consulate or Embassy, some US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) visa officers may not appreciate that the B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa is different to the B-1 business visitor visa. It is advisable to have full documentation relating to the visa application available on entry to the US.
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C.) US H-1B visa for specialty workers
The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc. Any professional level job that usually requires you to have a bachelor’s degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree or higher you may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.
However, because of the visa cap it is unlikely that an H-1B visa petition will be successful. The US employer petitions for the H-1B Visa in the US which has duration of up to 6 years.
Applying for a non-immigrant visa is generally quicker than applying for a US Green Card, therefore the H-1B visa is popular for companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignment in the US. However, because of the lack of available visas employers frequently have to look at applying for other visa categories such as the L-1B for specialized workers, L-1A for managers and executives, E-2 Treaty Investor visa, E-1 Treaty Trader visa, E-3 for Australians etc. Please note that individuals cannot apply directly for an H-1B visa. Instead the employer must petition for entry of the employee.
H-1B Visa cap
H-1B visas are subject to an annual visa cap each financial year. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa. Employers can apply as soon as April 2, 2017 for the 2018 cap, but the beneficiary cannot start work until October 1, 2017.
Current immigration law allows for a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas to be made available each government fiscal year. This number includes 65,000 new H-1B visas available for overseas workers in specialty (professional) level occupations with at least a bachelor’s degree, with an additional 20,000 visas available for those specialty workers with an advanced degree from a US academic institution. In recent years the H-1B visa cap has been heavily oversubscribed near the beginning of April each year. USCIS then holds a lottery for the available H-1B visas available.
Eligibility: specialty occupation
The US H1-B visa is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations. The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent.
The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree.
The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.
Eligibility: employee qualifications
For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:
Have completed a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university.
Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation.
Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.
Have education, training, or experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.
Positions that are not specialty occupations, or for which the candidate lacks the qualifications/experience for an H1B visa, may be filled using an H-2B visa. Also, applicants that are not eligible for H-1B visas may want to consult our L-1 visa page. The L-1B visa a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to their US operations for up to five years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US Company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.
Length of stay
The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may then be extended to a maximum of six years.
Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few US visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning the H-1B visa holder can apply for and obtain a US Green Card while in the US on an H-1B visa. If you are still in the US on an H-1B visa and wish to remain in the US for more than six years, you can apply for permanent residency in the US to receive a Green Card. If you do not gain permanent residency prior to the expiration of your H-1B visa, then you must live outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H or L visa.
Family & Dependents
H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children less than 21 years of age to the US under the H-4 Visa category as dependents. An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status. While, an H-4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US unless they may attend school, obtain a driver’s license and open a bank account while in the US.
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D.) US H-2B visa for temporary non-agricultural workers
From ski resort workers in Colorado to amusement park employees in Florida, 66,000 temporary workers come to the US every year on H-2B visas. The H-2B allows US employers to hire migrant workers to fill temporary non-agricultural roles in the US.
The H-2B visa is available to employers of foreign workers not working in the agricultural field. This visa is only available for work that is temporary in nature. For H2B purposes, that means one of the following:
Recurring seasonal need: work that is regularly tied to a season, such as amusement park work in the summer, or ski resort work in the winter.
Intermittent need: work for which the employer has not employed full time staff, and occasionally needs temporary workers.
Peak-load need: work during busy periods for which the employer needs temporary staff in addition to their permanent employees.
One time occurrence: work needed during a short, one time period of need.
The employer must also prove that:
There are no unemployed US workers willing or able to do the work. This is established through the state’s employment agency using a labor certification process. This process requires a recruitment campaign, including advertising in a local newspaper for available temporary workers.
Employing a worker on an H-2B visa will not negatively affect the pay or conditions of US workers
Length of stay
The duration of the visa is limited to the employer’s need for the temporary workers. The maximum authorized period is one year. However, the employer may extend the duration of the visa up to three years.
Family and dependents
Spouses of H-2B visa holder or an unmarried child under 21 years of age of H-2B visa holder are issued an H-4 visa. They may remain in the US as long as the authorized stay of the H-2B visa holder. H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the US.
In order to be considered as a non-immigrant under the above classifications, the prospective employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, with the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once approved, the employer is sent a notice of approval, Form I-797.
Petitions should be filed no more than six months before the proposed employment will begin. However, they should be submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, because the petition processing and visa issuance may not be completed before work is to begin.
If the prospective worker is outside of the US, he must then apply for a visa with the US consulate.
The H-2B visa application includes:
DS-156, Application for Non-immigrant Visa
DS-157 if male between the ages of 16 and 45)
The necessary filing fees
Copy of Notice of Approval of H-2B Petition
One passport-style photo
Evidence of ties to the home country (family, property, current occupation, etc.) Like with any other non-immigrant visa, the Consulate needs to see that each applicant has ties to the country so that he or she will return home after their work period ends.
If the prospective worker is already in the US and is changing from one non-immigrant status to another, a visa is not required. However, if the worker leaves the US and wants to re-enter, s/he may need a visa.
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What US Work Visa is Right for You?
B.) US J-1 – Exchange Visitor Program Visa