Work Visa

/Work Visa
Work Visa 2019-02-19T11:14:36+00:00

How to Get a Work Visa

If you are a foreign national and you want to enter and work legally in the United States, according to our immigration law you need to obtain an official permit or a work visa. The steps that you need to take in obtaining a visa depend on the type of work visa you apply for. Under United States immigration law, foreign nationals must obtain a visa to legally enter and work in this country. 

One of the options you have when applying for a visa is the H-1B work visa, a dual intent visa that allows you to apply for a green card. While it is a very popular nonimmigrant work visa, it does have an expiration date (it is valid up to six years) and if you want to continue working in US you need to apply for permanent residency before it expires. If you do not succeed you will have to wait for at least another year while you live outside the country before reapplying.

When U.S. citizens or residents are not available to fill in specialty occupations, foreign nationals can be hired with the condition of having a bachelor’s degree or higher and that they qualify for the job. Such specialty occupations are: architecture, engineering, business, sales, telecom, IT, computer science, mathematics, medicine and health care, education and law.

For the employers this is two-step process including:

submitting an application to the Department of Labor
submitting a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

For the potential employees the process includes only filing an application with the Department of State at a U.S. embassy (or consulate) requiring a H1B work visa after the petition submitted by the employer receives approval.

Each fiscal year the Department of state issues only 85,000 H1B work visas from which 20,000 are restricted to individuals having master’s degree or higher. With the H1B1 work visa program employers can hire Singapore and Chile foreign national without filing a petition with the USCIS. Job are also limited to specialty occupations and there are only 6800 H1B1 work visas issued each fiscal year: 1400 for Chile foreign nationals and 5400 for Singapore.

You need a B1 visa if you are a traveler coming to the U. S. A. to engage in business activities such as:

Participating to a conference no matter if it is business, educational or scientific.

Discussing and consulting with business associates or negotiating contracts.

Settling an inheritance or an estate.

Applications for a B1 visa are made at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residency and they have to state clearly what the purpose of your trip is, your intent to leave the U.S. after your trip, expressed clearly and proof that you have the financial resources necessary to cover trip expenses. Once you have received your B1 visa, it is valid for up to six months and you can renew it for another six months if necessary.

The E1 Visa is to be used by foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. for international trade activities from a country with which the U.S. has a trade treaty with. By trade activities it is understood international exchange of items such as goods, technology, services, insurance, tourism, transportation, international banking between the U.S. and the treaty country.

In order to receive the E1 Visa employees of such a company must have the same nationality as the employer, meet all the conditions that legally define an “employee”, have special qualifications or be involved in supervisory duties or executive activities.

The forms that need to be filed in for visa depend on whether or not the foreign national is already in U.S. or traveling from outside this country. In the first case they would need to file an I-129 request and obtain a modification in their status to that of an E1 nonimmigrant. The second situation requires an application for a visa followed by seeking admission as an E1 nonimmigrant. As a treaty trader the employer can apply for visa on behalf of their employees which are already in U.S. by filing an I-129 form and request a change of their status to an E1 classification.

The E1 visa is valid for up to two years. If you need to extend it you can do that in two-year increments. Obtaining an E1 visa as nonimmigrant is conditioned by the intent of leaving U.S. when the visa expires. Treaty traders and employees of treaty traders that are traveling abroad automatically receive a period of readmission of two years considered from the time of their return to U.S.

Eligible for an E2 Visa are treaty investors and their employees. A treaty investor is defined as an individual from a country that maintains a trade treaty with the U.S. which travels to U.S. with the purpose of making a substantial investment in a U.S. business. An important condition the treaty investor needs to comply with is to own at least 50% of the company or otherwise have a managerial position giving him operational control.

Employees applying for E2 Visa need to have the same nationality as their employer, comply with the legal definition of “employee” and have special qualifications or supervisory/executive duties.

The forms that need to be filed in for visa depend on whether or not the foreign national is already in U.S. or traveling from outside this country. In the first case they would need to file an I-129 request and obtain a modification in their status to that of an E2 nonimmigrant. The second situation requires an application for a visa followed by seeking admission as an E2 nonimmigrant. As a treaty trader the employer can apply for visa on behalf of their employees which are already in U.S. by filing an I-129 form and request a change of their status to an E2 classification.

The E2 visa is valid for up to two years. If you need to extend it you can do that in two-year increments. Obtaining an E2 visa as nonimmigrant is conditioned by the intent of leaving U.S. when the visa expires. Treaty traders and employees of treaty traders that are traveling abroad automatically receive a period of readmission of two years considered from the time of their return to U.S.

Note: If you are a treaty investor and you intend to start your own business in U.S. you first need to enter U.S. as a business visitor and then apply for an E2 classification.

L1 Visa is a special type of visa meant for multi-national companies that also have offices in the U.S. Filing for a L1 visa allows multi-national companies to transfer foreign national employees, managers and executive from their overseas office into the U.S. Multi-nationals can choose between a L1A and L1B visas.
The L1A Visa is used by multi-nationals which want to bring managerial or executive staff from overseas. It is valid for three-years for staff that is involved in supervising professional employees, managing either the company or a key function, component or department. If necessary, the L1A Visa can be extended up to seven years in two-year increments.

The L1B Visa is for multi-nationals that need to bring in U.S. overseas personnel with specialized knowledge of the company, whether we are talking about equipment, systems, techniques, procedures or about management, products or research. An L1B visa is valid for three-years. If necessary it can be extended up to five years in two-year increments.

In order to be eligible for a L1 visa, the following conditions must be met:

Prior to applying for the visa, the employee has worked abroad for the company for one continuous year within a three year period.
The company in the U.S. that will receive the employee must be an affiliate, branch, parent company or subsidiary of the foreign company.

For individuals that are a part of work- and study-based exchange visitor programs there is the option of a J-1 visa, also known as a working holiday visa. This is a program administered by the U.S. State Department which includes 13 separate categories, each with a separate set of application requirements.

The first step in obtaining a J-1 visa in such a case is to apply to the designated sponsoring organizations. They will screen and select program participants and will provide you the necessary documentation you need to present to the U.S. embassy or consulate for your visa application. The sponsoring organization also supports and monitors all the participants in the program throughout their stay in the U.S.

J-1 Visa applicants have the obligation to pay for their round-trip travel expenses and also have sufficient financial resources to cover their living expenses. They also need to purchase a mandatory health insurance and return home when the program is over.

Summer work travel students also need to be proficient in the English language, be pre-placed in a job in U.S. and have at least one semester of post-secondary studies completed. Such a visa has a validity of four months with the possibility of applying more than once as participant in the program.

As a foreign national to this country you are free to work here if you have a valid work visa. Since there are more types of visa to consider and the application process is quite different it is advised to find out all the necessary information before applying. If documents are not applied in the right order and at the right agencies, your application might be denied. Please consult immigration law and send us any question you have regarding your visa to ensure yours will be approved. With an approved working visa USA and a lawful nonimmigrant status, you are allowed to stay and work in this country.