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Nonimmigrant Visas

Non-citizens temporarily visiting the United States generally require a nonimmigrant visa to enter a U.S. port-of-entry. The type of visa needed depends on the purpose of the visit.

The length of time someone can remain in the U.S. depends upon the visa status under which he is admitted. Additionally a person entering the US in one status can often change his status in order to stay longer or to perform different activities.

The immigration process is complicated and fraught with potential pitfalls. A successful visa application requires careful advanced planning and strict adherence to procedural steps. It is important to evaluate all contingencies prior to moving forward in order to ensure that the applicant's best interests and rights are preserved. Our firm will determine the appropriate visa category for you based on your individual circumstances, qualifications, and objectives. We will then expertly guide you through the entire process, providing experienced immigration assistance and confident legal counsel at all stages along the way.

Temporary Work Visa Categories

The following is a brief list of the most commonly used temporary work visa categories:

B-1 Business Visitor
The B-1 visa allows foreign nationals to visit the United States for business reasons that do not involve receiving salary or payment of any kind from a US source (other than reimbursement for incidental expenditures). The definition of “business” is limited and does not generally permit gainful employment. However if the purpose of the temporary visit is to consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional or business convention or conference, meet with clients or negotiate a contract, then a business visitor visa (B-1) may be appropriate. Applicants for business visas may apply directly to the US Embassy in their country of domicile.

B-2 Tourist Visa
The B-2 visa is the most widely used visa and is for foreign nationals who are coming to the United States as visitors for pleasure. A B-2 visa is appropriate fos such activities including touring, visits to friends and relatives, medical treatment, participation in conventions, conferences or convocations of fraternal or social organizations, and participation by amateurs in musical, sports and similar events (with no remuneration).

H1-B Specialty Occupation
This nonimmigrant visa classification applies to an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation (one which typically requires a Bachelor's degree or the equivalent) or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. Under current law, there is an annual limit of 65,000 aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status. As many as 20,000 additional H-1B slots are available to graduates of U.S. Master's degree (or higher) programs. Individuals who are currently in H-1B status (or who previously held H-1B status and have not exited the United States for more than one year) are NOT subject to the numerical cap. Moreover petitions for new H 1B employment are not subject to the annual cap if the alien will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization.

L-1 Intra-company Transfers
The intra-company transferee classification allows a multinational business concern having offices in the US and abroad to transfer managerial and executive personnel to the United States. An applicant for an L-1 visa must demonstrate that the alien has been employed in an executive/managerial or specialized knowledge position overseas by the transferring organization for at least one year within the past three years and that he will be performing duties in the United States for the same employer or an affiliate and the position to be filled is managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge. The overseas company and US company must be either 50% affiliates or a 50% owned subsidiary.

E-1 Treaty Traders
The E-1 visa allows an individual to enter the United States on a non-immigrant basis for the sole purpose of carrying on substantial trade between his or her country and the United States. The home country of the nonimmigrant must have a treaty with the United States.

E-2 Treaty Investor
The E-2 visa permits a foreign national to come to the United States temporarily to develop and direct an enterprise in which he or she has made a substantial investment. An employee of a treaty trader investor may also qualify as an E visa holder if his or her job duties require special qualifications essential to the business. The foreign national must have the same nationality as the foreign employer and the foreign national’s country of nationality must have a treaty with the United States.

The E-3 visa is for Australian nationals coming to the United States to work temporarily in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one which requires the individual to hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, for entry into the position.

A J-1 visa is for foreign nationals coming to the United States to pursue a temporary educational or cultural objective, including but not limited to medical residency or fellowship training, teaching, and conducting research. A J-1 is also for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. as a student, physician, camp counselor, au pair, or summer student in a travel or work program. Certain foreign nationals who enter the United States pursuant to a J-1 visa are required to return to their home country or country of last permanent residence for a period of two years after completion of the J-1 program before they may be eligible for an alternative non-immigrant status, or lawful permanent resident status. However, circumstances exist where the foreign residence requirement may be waived.

O-1 Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement OR O-2 Individuals Accompanying an O-1
The O-1 visa enables foreign nationals of extraordinary ability to come to the United States to be employed temporarily. Extraordinary ability in science, education, business or athletics is defined as a level of expertise indicating that the foreign national is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. Extraordinary ability in the arts is defined as distinction. A petition for an alien of extraordinary ability must be accompanied by evidence that the foreign national has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise. The foreign national must have a sponsoring employer or agent.

The P-1 visa is for foreign national athletes (and some coaches) and entertainers with significant international recognition. The P-1A is for an athlete individually or as part of a group that is internationally recognized. The P-1B is for a person who performs with, or is an integral part of, an entertainment group that has been internationally recognized as being outstanding for a sustained period of time.

TN Professionals and TD for spouse and children
These visas are limited to nationals of Canada and Mexico. If you are employed in one of the sixty-three listed professions in NAFTA, you can apply for nonimmigrant TN status. Most of the listed professions require either a Baccalaureate degree or licensure/experience in the field.

Visa Waiver
Citizens of designated countries may travel to the United States for business or pleasure without a visa provided they have a valid passport, a return or onward ticket, and will stay for no more than 90 days. They may engage in any activities consistent with those allowed under a B-1/B-2 visa (see discussion above). Tourists and business people who take advantage of this program may not extend their stay in the United States beyond 90 days and may not change their immigration status. There is no list of specific documents which must be presented. The only form required to use the waiver is form I-94W, which is obtained from the carrier at the time of boarding. Travel must be aboard a signatory airline or ship. Currently, 36 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Hungary, New Zealand Australia, Iceland, Norway, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, San Marino, Brunei, Japan, Singapore, Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, South Korea, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Malta, Sweden, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, Greece, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom.