Visa Options and Immigration Strategies for Those in the Food and Drug Industry Explained by the NPZ Law Group

The food and drug industry in the United States is highly-competitive, housing talent from within the country and abroad. Businesses in these industries should be aware of the different visa options available for hiring foreign talent in order to stay on top in an otherwise highly competitive market. Thus, here’s an overview of potential visa options and immigration strategies for those in the food and drug industries.

Categories of Employment-Based Non-Immigrant (Temporary) Visas

H-1B Visa – Specialty Occupation

The H-1B visa classification is designated for what is considered specialty occupations. These occupations should, therefore, require the following:

● Theoretical and practical application of a range of highly-specialized knowledge

● A minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree or higher in the respective specialty (or its equivalent in terms of work experience)

This visa classification is also the most common among businesses hiring foreign talent.

Employers for this category must also show that they are offering the prevailing wage for this specific occupation in their localized market.

Examples of positions that qualify for the H-1B visa classification are listed below.

● Engineers in a variety of fields
● Supply chain professionals
● Food and drug scientists and researchers
● Veterinarians

There is an annual limit for professionals entering the country with H-1B visas. The cap is at 65,000 visas for individual with a bachelors or its equivalent and 20,000 more visas for talent with a master’s degree or higher from a university in the United States. Thus, the total cap is 85,000.

Professionals working with an H-1B visa can switch employers while still in the US. For that, the new employer must file the H-1B petition on the employee’s behalf. Moreover, the employer must also update the petition with any changes in occupation, demonstrating that it is offering the prevailing wages for that occupation. The employer must make this amendment before the employee switches occupations.

H-1B1 – Category for Professionals from Chile and Singapore

Citizens from Singapore and Chile who otherwise qualify for an H-1B visa can seek H-1B1 status. Thus, this visa category is a specialty occupation category for candidates from Chile and Singapore.

E-3 – Category for Professionals from Australia

Australian citizens who otherwise qualify for an H-1B visa can seek E-3 status. Thus, this visa category is a specialty occupation category for candidates from Australia.

TN – Category for Professionals from Mexico and Canada

The TN is a visa category specifically for citizens of Mexico and Canada that currently work in specific professional occupational categories that allow for United States work authorization.

The most common examples of TN category occupations in the case of the food and drug industry include the following. Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

● Biologist
● Dairy scientist
● Veterinarian
● Animal breeder
● Poultry scientist
● Horticulturist
● Plant breeder
● Soil scientist
● Scientific technician/technologist
● Engineer

In addition to being a citizen of Mexico or Canada, applicants must also have the following qualifications to qualify for a TN work visa.

● Be offered a job from a US employer
● Hold a baccalaureate or licenciatura (bachelor’s) degree in the field relevant to the occupation. A state/provincial license, which is a document issued by a state, provincial or federal government that allows a professional to engage in a regulated profession or activity, is also acceptable. However, a license by a local government is not accepted.

L-1 Visa – Intracompany Transfer

This category is for individuals either in a managerial/executive or in a specialized knowledge capacity who have been working abroad for 12 mo