Coming to the United States can be notoriously difficult, and the current political climate does not appear to be making it easier anytime soon. For individuals who are interested in coming to the US for business purposes there are still many options available, and knowing the differences between them is critically important to successfully applying for an employment visa. An employment-based immigration attorney can help.
Types of Nonimmigrant Work Visas
Nonimmigrant visas are “temporary” visas, meaning they will expire after a certain amount of time and the visa holder will have to leave the United States. Most employment-related visas are nonimmigrant visas. Here are some common examples:
- H-1B Visas
H-1B visas are designed to help businesses recruit skilled workers that they can’t find in the United States, so they are intended for workers with specialized knowledge in their fields. That means applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, an advanced degree, or the equivalent to
- L-1 Visas
L-1 visas are designed to help US businesses that are associated with foreign businesses transfer workers across international boundaries. Most L-1 visas are for workers transferring from an established branch of a foreign company to an established branch of a US company, although visas are also available for foreign workers coming to the US to found a new US branch. L-1 visa applicants must have worked for their company for at least one continuous year within the three years leading up to the date they are requesting entry into the United States.
- O-1 Visas
O-1 visas are for workers who have “extraordinary abilities” in a number of fields, including the sciences, education, business, athletics, the arts, and motion pictures and television. In order to prove that an applicant has extraordinary abilities, they must have either won a prestigious international award (like a Nobel Prize) in their
- TN Visas
TN visas were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and are only available to Canadian and Mexican citizens. They offer many advantages over H-1B visas, such as being renewable indefinitely. The application process is also generally faster and simpler. Like an H-1B visa, however, applicants must already have an offer of employment from a US
Immigrant Work Visas
In addition to nonimmigrant work visas, the United States also offers a limited number of immigrant work visas, or “green cards,” to individuals who plan to remain in the US indefinitely. These visas are divided into five ranked categories, with applicants in higher-ranked categories receiving priority consideration over lower-ranked categories. The categories, in order of preference, include:
- “priority workers,” which includes individuals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers and executives;
- professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities;
- skilled workers, unskilled workers, and professionals;
- “special immigrants,” including groups such as Iraqi or Afghani nationals who have provided services to the United States during the wars; and
- immigrant investors.
As you can tell, obtaining a work visa can be extremely complicated. The good news is that an experienced immigration professional can not only help you navigate the