Employment Visas for Permanent and Temporary Workers


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Employment Based Immigrant Visas:

Labor Certification

There are approximately 140,000 employment based immigrant visas available every year. These visas provide a green card for the applicant. However, obtaining an employment based green card is not a simple process. Obtaining an employment immigrant visa requires a petition for labor certification through the Department of Labor (DOL). The labor certification process is called the PERM process (Program Electronic Review Management). An employer must demonstrate through the labor certification process that i) the employee will be hired for full time duty, ii) the job is permanent, iii) the employer must be reasonable in his or expectations of performance, and iv) employers must pay 100% or more of what known as the prevailing wage for the position in question.

The DOL labor certification provides verification that there are insufficient available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill the position being offered at the prevailing wage and that hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

If the certification is approved, a foreign worker can apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a green card.

EB-1 Visas for Priority Workers

This category is for individuals with “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. If you are eligible for an O-1 or L-1 non immigrant visa, then you may often qualify for a green card under this category. No labor certification is necessary.

EB-2 Visas for Professionals with Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability

This category is for members of the professional holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. These persons must demonstrate that they will substantially benefit the national economy and educational interests or welfare of the United States. You must possess a professional or advanced degree that is above a baccalaureate, which is a master’s degree or anything above that. Labor certification is necessary.

EB-3 Visas for Professionals, Skilled workers, and Other Workers

This category is for skilled workers, professionals, and “other workers." Skilled workers must have at least two years of training or experience. Professionals must have a bachelors degree or foreign equivalent in that field and the job must require that bachelor’s degree. There are some limited professions that provide automatic labor certification. Other workers include a category for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal. Labor certification is usually necessary.

EB-4 Visas for Special Immigrants

This category is for religious workers, employees of U.S foreign service posts, translators, foreign US government employees, retired employees of government organizations, and other classes

EB-5 Visas for Immigrant Investors

This category is reserved for business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.

Numerical Limitations

All categories of employment-based immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the annual numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant's priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached.

Check the visa bulletin to see your priority date. http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin.html

If you are interested in applying for a permanent work visa, please contact us.

Temporary Work Visas

H-1B Professional Workers Visas

 H1-B visas is a temporary visa that allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Under the regulations, a “specialty occupation” is defined as, “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum.” Your work authorization under an H1-B is limited to employment by the sponsoring employer. You can stay in the US for three years and the visa can be extended for 6 years. An H1-B is also a dual intent visa, so you can apply for a green card during the duration of your visa.

H-2B Temporary Workers Visas

This is a visa available for foreign nationals to perform temporary services for labor, or other agricultural services or labor and the persons capable of performing such service or labor cannot be found in the United States. An employers needs must be for a period of one year or less, or considered seasonal in nature. A temporary labor certification must be approved by the Department of Labor to obtain this visa.

E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor

E-1 Treaty Trader Visas

The E-1 visa allows a foreign national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States for the sole purpose of engaging in international trade on his or her own behalf.  Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

This visa is available for an investor who has citizenship of a treaty country. If a business, at least 50% of the business must be owned by person’s with the treaty country’s nationality. The investment must be considered “substantial” with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. The substantial investment or fund must be sufficient to ensure that the operation of the business is successful. The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. The investment must also generate a significant income, more than just to provide a living to you and family or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States. The funds you invest in this enterprise must be in your control and the investment must be considered “at risk” in a commercial sense. You must also come to the United States with the sole purpose of developing and directing an enterprise. You must be considered essential and employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.

Check if your home country is a treaty country here http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/treaty.html

L-1A and L-1B Intracompany Transfers

To be eligible for a L-1 visa, you must be an employee of an international company with offices in both a home county and the United States. You may also apply if you wish to open a new office in the United States while maintaining interests in your home country. The visa is valid for three years. If you have worked at the office abroad, you may relocate to the corporations US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year prior to being granted L-1 status.

The main difference between and L-1A and and L-1B is that the L-1A visa allows for intracompany transferees for executives and managers and is valid for a period of 7 years, whereas and L-1B allows intracompany transferees for persons of specialized knowledge and is valid for a period of 5 years. You may apply for a green card under this visa designation if your priority date is current.

TN Visa Professionals

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification allows qualified professional Canadian and Mexican citizens to apply for temporary status in the United States and engage in business and employment related to that profession.

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 to apply if your profession qualifies under the regulations, you have a full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (no self employment), and you show proof of your qualifications to practice in that profession.

O, P, and R Visas

There are a variety of other non immigrant visas available.

O visas are available for individuals of extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics and support personnel.

P visas are available for Athletes & entertainment groups such as orchestras and support (e.g. orchestras) and support personnel.

R visas are available for religious personnel.