At the immigration law firm of NPZ Law Group, we often help companies bring highly skilled foreign nationals to the United States using nonimmigrant visas, since this process is generally faster than applying for an immigrant visa/green card. Then, while the employee is in the United States, we begin the process of applying for permanent residency.

Nonimmigrant Visa Attorneys

To schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer, please contact NPZ Law Group by e-mail or call 201-670-0006.

What Are Nonimmigrant Visas?

Nonimmigrant visas are temporary visas. Generally, an individual who seeks a nonimmigrant visa must demonstrate “nonimmigrant intent,” or the intent to depart from the United States upon the expiration of the nonimmigrant visa. However, since the 1990 amendments to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the USCIS, and more slowly the U.S. Department of State, have come to accept the concept of “dual intent,” which recognizes that certain nonimmigrant visa holders may intend to seek immigrant status.

Dual Intent Doctrine and Nonimmigrant Visas

There are a handful of visas that are considered “dual intent.” A “nonimmigrant” can intend to immigrate to the United States and not intend to immigrate at the same time. This affords interested immigrants maximum flexibility; they can travel and maintain their underlying nonimmigrant status while their immigration petition is moving forward. We strongly advise clients to maintain their nonimmigrant status until they have their green cards in their hands. Just like you wouldn’t drive without car insurance, you shouldn’t go through the immigration process without maintaining a dual intent status. The following nonimmigrant visas are dual intent visas:

Caveat to dual intent: The E visa for treaty traders/treaty investors is not dual intent. However, the consulate has discretion to “look the other way.” To learn more about dual intent visas, please speak with an immigration professional.

Other Nonimmigrant Visas

Whether you or your employee is a temporary visitor to the U.S. or would like to begin the immigration process under a dual intent visa, our attorneys can discuss the visas available and help prepare a visa application for any of the following:

There are a great many types of visas available, both for those who intend to immigrate to the U.S. and those who do not. Following are some of the types of nonimmigrant visas that the U.S. grants. Basically, nonimmigrant visas are designed for individuals who have a permanent residence abroad but need to stay in the U.S. for an extended period. This group includes, but is not limited to: students, foreign correspondents, fiancées of American citizens, intra-company transfers, temporary workers, and religious workers. Following are some of the types of nonimmigrant visas available to particular individuals:

Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas

H-1B visas authorize the temporary employment of qualified individuals who would not otherwise be authorized to work in the United States. The H-1B program was developed for employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. The purpose of the H-1B provisions is to assist employers unable to find U.S. employees with the business skills and/or abilities they need. Workers hired on H-1B visas are only allowed to work in this country temporarily — initially for 3 years with the possibility of a 3-year extension. Additional extensions may be possible under certain circumstances.

Nonimmigrant L-1 Visas

Employers who want to qualify for an L-1 visa application must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company — be it as a parent company, branch office, subsidiary, or affiliate. Collectively these are referred to as qualifying entities or qualifying organizations. There are several ways in which a corporate relationship can be proved to the U.S. government. For one thing, the new employer of the U.S. office must have had previous employment for a one year period (365 days) as a manager, executive, or worker with specialized knowledge in the foreign entity. For another, he or she must continue working in a U.S. office under the ownership and control of that company. Evidence the government may require as proof of the individual’s and the company’s status includes: business licenses, annual reports, and articles of incorporation. In addition, the employer must be able to prove that adequate physical space has been obtained to house the U.S. office of the company, such as a lease, bill of sale, or mortgage.

Nonimmigrant F-1 Visas

An F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who wish to study in the U.S. If you are a citizen of another country, you must apply for an F-1 visa before entering a U.S. university, college, high school, private elementary school, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution. There is a time restriction on an F-1 visa which allows the student to remain in the U.S. only for as long as he or she is enrolled in the designated academic program (which may involve renewals of the student visa). Once the academic program ends, the individual has 60 days to remain in, and prepare to leave, the United States.

Nonimmigrant E-1 Visas

The E-1, another nonimmigrant visa, is also known as a treaty trader visa. It allows foreign nationals of a nation with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation to enter into the U.S. in order to carry out substantial trade. For the purposes of the E-1 visa, “trade” includes commercial transactions in goods, services, and technologies for industries such as banking, insurance, transportation, communications, tourism, advertising, accounting, and design and engineering.

Substantial trade refers to a continuous flow of large amounts of international trade involving numerous transactions. While there is no minimal monetary value demanded under the law, the government evaluates such visas partially in terms of the amounts of money involved. Over the long run, however, more importance is placed on the number of transactions than on the value of each. Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country is considered to exist when over 50 percent of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country. 

Nonimmigrant O-1 Visas

In order to obtain an O-1 visa, you have to be able to prove exceptional ability in your field. The O-1 visa has been established to expedite travel and residence in the U.S. for individuals recognized as notables in their field of endeavor. There are two types of O-1 visas, A and B.

O-1A Visas are given to outstanding achievers in education, business or athletics (not the performing arts). Your exceptional status may be evidenced by an international prize or award (like the Nobel Prize), membership in an association of outstanding achievers, or publication of a recognized work of major significance in art, science, business, or another area of scholarly research.

O-1B Visas are given to individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, including the film or television industry. To obtain and O-1B visa you must be able to show that you are essential to the completion of a particular performance that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker.

The amount of remuneration you generally obtain for your services may feature in the decision as to whether you qualify for an O-1 visa. There are other O visas (2 and 3) available to those who accompany such experts as assistants or as close family members.

Nonimmigrant R-1 Visa

An R-1 visa is granted as a short-term visa to those who have been offered jobs as religious workers in the U.S. A designated religious worker may be a priest, rabbi, minister, Buddhist monk, practitioner of the Christian Science Church or anyone ordained in a recognized religion. There is also a subcategory of religious workers that includes missionaries, cantors, religious counselors or translators, fundraisers, and others who come under the umbrella of an organized religion.

The visa, once granted, is valid for as long as the religious worker works for the employer who sponsored him or her. If the individual leaves that job, he or she must apply for another type of visa. R-1 visas are typically granted for up to 30 months with possible extensions of up to a total of 5 years. Interestingly, the worker granted an R-1 visa can travel in and out of the U.S. with impunity as long as the visa is valid, and time spent out of this country is not counted as part of the restricted U.S. residency.

Nonimmigrant B-1 Visa

The B-1 nonimmigrant visa is intended for individuals who want to remain in the U.S. for a specific activity and for a limited period of time. In order to obtain a B-1 visa, you will have to be able to substantiate your claim that you will only stay in the country for a maximum of 6 months and that you have definite plans to return to your country of origin. Such evidence may include: a ticket for return travel, property ownership, close family ties to your home country, documentation that your purpose for being in the U.S. is of limited duration or evidence that you must return home for some significant event. In order to obtain a B-1 visa, you must also prove that you have sufficient funds to sustain you for as long as you remain in the U.S.

The Pathway to a Green Card

If you want to remain in the United States, your road to American citizenship involves the all-important step of obtaining a green card, though not everyone who obtains a green card intends to remain in the U.S. permanently. There are four primary ways to obtain a green card: through family, through a job, through status as a refugee or someone seeking political asylum, or by way of a number of exceptions. The last includes such circumstances as being a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, a battered spouse or child, or a child born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomat. Once an immigrant has obtained a green card, meaning he or she is a legal permanent resident of this country, it normally takes 5 years before that person can be tested for citizenship. In some exceptional circumstances, however, such as marrying a U.S. citizen, the time frame is shortened to 3 years.

Nonimmigrant visas involve a great many complexities. It is for this reason that it is important to have a highly knowledgeable immigration and nationality attorney at your side to help you untangle the specifics of the laws as they apply to you. Professional assistance gives you a much better chance of being successful in your quest for a nonimmigrant visa.

Contact NPZ Law Group

Our immigration attorneys help employers choose the right temporary work classification that will support their green card application. If necessary, we will move your employee from one temporary visa classification to another to keep him or her in status while the green card is pending.

Our goal as immigration visa attorneys is to save your company time and money in the immigration process and to find creative ways to help you and your foreign national employees meet your immigration goals. Contact the global mobility attorneys at NPZ Law Group, by calling 201-670-0006 or by sending us an e-mail.