Gots Law Firm

Visa Types and Services

Legal support for Creatives, Artists, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs.

VISA TYPES

 

 H-1B: Specialty Occupations

H-1B visas are for workers in specialty occupations and are subject to yearly quotas, called “cap”.  The H-1B visa is originally approved for up-to three years, but can be extended for another three. H-1B visa holders can transfer their visa to a different employer if they want to change their job.  If the visa holder files for permanent residence before using up the five of the six years available under the H-1B visa, his or her H-1B can be extended indefinitely until he or she becomes a permanent resident (green card holder.) Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for H-4 visa. Family members in the H-4 may not work in the United States.

 The most important requirements of an H-1B visa are:

·      The job requires a bachelor’s degree according to industry-wide standards.

·      The visa applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in an area of study that is relevant to the job

·      The job must be offered at the prevailing wage in the employer's labor market area.



















Q: Cultural Exchange

Q visas are one of the two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons who would like to participate in Exchange Visitor programs in the United States. It is for international cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS.

The purpose of this visa is to facilitate the sharing of international cultures. Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs are allowed to petition for Q nonimmigrants. To qualify, an integral part of the applicant’s duties need to have a cultural element. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of their country.

The sponsoring organization must file the appropriate petition with the USCIS. In addition, the employer must submit evidence that the employer maintains an established cultural exchange program, through materials that demonstrate that the cultural component of the program is designed to give an overview of the cultural attributes of the participant’s home country. The employer may also submit evidence that the program activities take place in a public setting where the sharing of the culture can be achieved through direct interaction with the American public.  

In addition, the employer must establish that:

·      It has designated a qualified employee to administer the program and liaise with USCIS

·      It will offer the alien wages and comparable to those accorded local workers similarly employed

·      It has the financial ability to compensate the participant(s), as shown by a copy of the employer’s most recent annual report, business income tax return or other form or certified accountant’s report

 The visa grants an initial period of stay of up to 15 months. Upon completion of the Q cultural exchange program, the applicant must leave the United States within 30 days and spend one year outside the United States before they can apply for a Q visa again. 









L1A and L1B: Intra Company Transfer

L1 visas are available for employees of companies that operate both in the US and abroad. Generally L visas are originally approved for three years but can be extended for up to seven years. Spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age are eligible for L1 visa.  Spouses may apply for work authorization. There is no specific restriction as to where the L1 spouse may work.

In order to qualify for an L1 visa

·      The employer (US company) must be currently doing business in the United states and at least one other country.

·      The employer (US company) must be the parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate of a foreign country.

·      The applicant must be an executives, or manager (L1A) or must possess specialized knowledge relating to the company’s operations (L1B).

·      The applicant must have worked the foreign company for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States 

New Offices:

An executive or Manager of the foreign company can come to the United States to open a new office if

·       The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;

·       The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition;

·       The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

Blank Petitions:

A blanket petition makes it possible to transfer employees from the foreign company or office to the United States without having to file an individual petition with USCIS. In order to be eligible for a blanket petition:

  • The employer must have an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more

  • The employer must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates

  • The employer along with the foreign entities must meet one of the following criteria:

    • Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;  

    • Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million

    • Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.





E-1: TREATY TRADER

E1 visas are not for all foreign nationals; they are available only to citizens of countries that maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.

 E1 visas are available both for “traders” (business owners who are engaged in international trade) and their employees. Spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age are eligible for E1 visa.  Spouses may apply for work authorization. There is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted.  All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

To qualify for an E1-Trader or Employee visa:

·       At least 50% of the sponsoring company must be owned by persons who have the nationality of the treaty country.

·       The visa applicant must be a national of that “treaty country”

·       The company must carry on substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country . Substantial trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. 

 ·       The company must carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country  (At least half of the sponsoring company’s total international trade must be with he treaty country.)

 To qualify for an E-1 Employee visa

 ·       The applicant must be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)

 ·       The applicant must either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.













O-1: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability(FOR BUSINESS, SCIENCE, AND EDUCATION)

O-1 visas are available for people who have an extraordinary ability. O-1 visas are originally approved for three years but can be extended indefinitely. A US employer or agent may be the sponsor of an O-1 visa. There are two types of O-1 visas: O-1A, which is for people working in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics; and O-1B, which is for people working in the fields of arts or motion picture and television industry. The O-1 visa is originally approved for up-to three years, but can be extended indefinitely. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for O-3 visa. Family members in the O-3 status may not work in the United States. The professional support staff of an O-1 visa holders are eligible for O-2 visas if their assistance is an “integral part” of the O-1 visa holder’s activity or is “essential” to the completion of the production where the O-1 visa holder works.

O-1A:

In order to qualify for an O-1A visa the applicant must have a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or he or she must demonstrate at least (3) three of the following:  

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor

  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field

  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought

  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field

  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought

  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence

  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought

  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

  




P1B: Member of Internationally recognized Entertainment Group

P visas are for internationally recognized artists, entertainers and athletes, who come to the United States to perform at a specific competition, event, performance, or for a series of events. For this visa category what is important is the group’s reputation rather than the individual achievements of the individual members. Therefore, Individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa classification. The P1B-1 visa is originally approved for up-to one year, but can be extended in increments of up to one year until the competition or event is complete. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for the P-4 visa. Family members in the P-4 status may not work in the United States.

The professional support staff of an P-1 visa holders are also eligible for P1 visas if their assistance is an “integral part” of the group’s activity and if their services cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker.

In order to qualify for a P1B visa the group must generally demonstrate at least three of the following:

·      It has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements

·      It has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material

·      It has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials

·      It has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications

·      It has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field

·      It has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence





E-2: TREATY INVESTOR

E2 visas are not for all foreign nationals; they are available only to citizens of countries that maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.

E2 visas are available both for “investors” (owners of US businesses) and their employees. Spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age are eligible for E2 visa.  Spouses may apply for work authorization. There is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted.  All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

To qualify for an E2-Investor visa:

·       The applicant must be a national of a “treaty country”

·       The applicant must have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States

·       At least 50% of the US enterprise must be owned by persons who have the nationality of the treaty country.

·       The applicant must own at least 50% of the enterprise or possess operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

·       The enterprise must not be “marginal.”

Marginal Enterprises: A marginal enterprise is one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family within five years from the date that the treaty investor’s E-2 classification begins. 

 To qualify for an E-2 Employee visa:

·       The applicant must be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)

·       At least 50% of the company or organization must be owned by persons who have the nationality of the treaty country.

·       The principal alien employer must have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States

·       The applicant must either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

 


O-1: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability (FOR CREATIVE FIELDS)

O-1 visas are available for people who have an extraordinary ability. O-1 visas are originally approved for three years but can be extended indefinitely. A US employer or agent may be the sponsor of an O-1 visa. There are two types of O-1 visas: O-1A, which is for people working in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics; and O-1B, which is for people working in the fields of arts or motion picture and television industry. The O-1 visa is originally approved for up-to three years, but can be extended indefinitely. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for O-3 visa. Family members in the O-3 status may not work in the United States. The professional support staff of an O-1 visa holders are eligible for O-2 visas if their assistance is an “integral part” of the O-1 visa holder’s activity or is “essential” to the completion of the production where the O-1 visa holder works.

O-1B:

In order to qualify for an O-1B visa the applicant must have received or nominated for a significant national or international award, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director's Guild Award, or he or she must demonstrate at least (3) three of the following: 

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements

  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications

  • Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.

  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications

  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary's achievements

  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence


J1: Exchange Visitors

J Exchange visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in Exchange Visitor programs in the United States.

J-1 Intern Program

Internship programs allow foreign college and university students or recent graduates to come to the United States to gain exposure to US culture and obtain hands-on experience in US business practices in their chosen occupational field. These internships bridge the gap between formal education and practical work experience.

Eligible interns are foreign nationals who are currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a foreign degree or certificate granting post-secondary academic institution outside the United States, or those who have graduated from such an institution no longer than 12 months prior to their exchange visitor program’s start date. 

J-1 Trainee Program

Trainee programs are designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the United States to gain exposure to US culture and receive training in US business practices in their chosen occupational field.  These programs enhance the skills and expertise of exchange visitors in their academic or occupational fields through participation in a structure and guided training-based program.

 Eligible trainees are foreign national who have a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States, or have five years or work experience outside the United States in the occupational field in which they are seeking training.