SKO routinely assists employers and foreign national professionals with temporary employment-based immigration sponsorship. Each of these categories has its own requirements and benefits. For example, some visa categories do not require prior USCIS approval, and others may permit spouses to obtain work authorization in the United States. Below are some of the most common employment-based categories we prepare for clients:
B-1 Business Visitors
The B-1 visa category is for individuals coming to the United States temporarily for business. Examples of permissible B-1 business activities include specific activities such as engaging in commercial transactions, negotiations and conferences, missionary work, participating in voluntary service programs, attending board meetings, accompanying U.S. citizen employers or foreign national employers as personal/domestic employees, participating in sporting events, and performing services for a foreign-based employer in the equine industry.
E-1 Treaty Traders and E-2 Treaty Investors
The Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa is available to nationals of certain countries to enable them and their employees to come to the United States to engage in trade or investment. To qualify there must be a trade or investment treaty between the United States and the individual’s home country, and the applicant must be coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade between the two countries, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has or will invest a substantial amount of capital. See Treaty Countries for a list of participating countries. To be eligible as employees of the primary investor, an employee must be working in an executive capacity or have specialized skills that are essential to the success of the company.
E-3 Professional Status for Australian Nationals
The E-3 visa category is available to Australian nationals who are coming to the United States to work temporarily for a U.S. employer in a specialized occupation which requires at minimum a bachelor’s degree in a specific academic field.
H-1B Specialty Occupation Professionals
The H-1B category is for professional positions that require at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in a specific academic field. As part of the application process, employers must ensure H-1B workers are paid the “required wage,” must post H-1B sponsorship notice at the worksite, and must make certain documents related to the H-1B position available for public inspection. 65,000 H-1Bs are available each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 set aside for foreign nationals with a U.S. Master’s degree. In recent years, demand has exceeded availability.
H-1B1 Professional Status for Chilean and Singapore Nationals
The H-1B1 is similar to the H-1B. 6,500 H-1B1s are set aside specifically for nationals of Chile and Singapore. Like the H-1B, this category is for professional positions that require a bachelor’s degree in a specific academic field. In addition, the position must be temporary.
H-2A and H-2B Seasonal Workers
The H-2 category is for individuals coming to the United States to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural (H-2A) or non-agricultural (H-2B) work. Approval must first be obtained from the Department of Labor. The H-2B has a numerical cap of 66,000 each fiscal year.
H-3 Trainee Programs
The H-3 category is for foreign employees to participate in a temporary company training program at U.S. companies and institutions to gain knowledge and skills.
J-1 Exchange Visitors
The J-1 visa category is for foreign students, scholars, and medical interns and residents enrolled in U.S. government approved Exchange-Visitor Programs, to gain experience, study, or conduct research in their respective fields. In addition, the J-1 can be used to engage in specific types of training in the United States, including in some cases, hands-on training gained through employment in one’s field.
L-1 Intracompany Transferees
The L-1 category is for employees of international companies seeking to transfer to the United States. The employee must have worked for a related entity outside the U.S. for at least one year prior to transfer, and be coming to the U.S. to work in an executive or managerial (L-1A) or specialized knowledge (L-1B) capacity. A qualifying relationship must exist between the U.S. company and the transferring company. Companies that are starting new offices in the United States can also utilize this category, provided they can meet additional criteria including having a concrete business plan in place, and why a full-time executive or manager is needed in the U.S. A streamlined “Blanket L” process is available to companies with three or more global offices who have obtained at least ten L approvals in the past year, combined annual sales of $25 million, or a U.S. workforce of 1,000 employees.
O-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
The O-1 visa category is for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, and their family members. O-1 applicants must intend to work in their area of extraordinary ability or achievement.
P-1 Status for Athletes, Artists and Entertainers
The P-1 visa category is for internationally recognized entertainers and athletes.
R-1 Religious Workers
The R-1 visa category is for religious workers who have been a member of a religious denomination for at least two years immediately preceding application for R-1 status and who will be coming to the United States to perform religious duties for a non-profit tax exempt religious organization which is the same religious denomination.
TN (Trade NAFTA) Professional Status for Canadian and Mexican Nationals
The TN category is available for Canadian and Mexican nationals who are coming to the United States to work for a U.S. employer in a professional position that is on the NAFTA list. Categories include professions such as Accountants, Scientists and Registered Nurses.