Immigration Solutions - Work Visas

Work Visas

Temporary Employment Visas

Temporary employment visas allow employers to hire foreign nationals to work in a specific job for a limited time period.  Depending on the type of visa being sought and the nationality of the prospective employee, the employer may be required to file a petition for a nonimmigrant worker with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.).  If the petition is approved, a State Department consular officer will then determine the foreign worker’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa. 

Once the visa has been issued, the worker may travel to the United States to begin employment with the petitioning employer.  A Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P.) officer will inspect the worker upon the worker’s arrival in the U.S. to confirm eligibility for admission and to determine the specific length of stay.  The worker must depart from the United States upon expiration of this period of stay unless the period of stay is extended by U.S.C.I.S.    

Common Temporary Employment Visas

  H-1B H-2A H-2B L-1A & L-1B
Who is eligible? Highly educated foreign professionals in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. Temporary agricultural workers. “Seasonal,” non-agricultural temporary workers. An alien employed by an employer abroad for at least one year in the past three years in a capacity that is “managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge” and whose services in the United States are being sought in one of those capacities by the same employer in the U.S., or a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate thereof.
How many per year? 65,000 per year, plus 20,000 more for foreign professionals with a Masters or Doctoral degree from a U.S. university.  No annual limit.  The H-2A program usually places about 40-50,000 workers per year. 66,000 per year. No annual limit.
For how long? Three years, with a renewal for up to six years total. Up to one year, can be renewed yearly for up to three years. Up to one year, and may be renewed twice for a total of up to three years. One year if establishing a new office, otherwise for three years.  L-1A employees may be granted two year extensions for up to seven years (five years for L-1Bs). 
Permanent employment visa eligible? H-1B visa holders may be sponsored for permanent visas by their employers. H-2A workers cannot be sponsored for permanent visas for the same job by their employers. H-2B workers cannot be sponsored for permanent visas for the same job by their employers. L visa holders may be sponsored for permanent visas by their employers.
Need labor certification? No, but the employer must attest, on a labor condition application (LCA) certified by DOL, that employment of the H-1B worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.  The LCA must be posted at the worksite for ten days. Yes, the Department of Labor must certify that there is no qualified U.S. worker who can fill the position.  Yes the Department of Labor must certify that there is no qualified U.S. worker who can fill the position. No.
May they bring their spouses and children under 21? Yes, spouses and children under 21 may enter on an H-4 visa but may not work. Yes, spouses and children under 21 may enter on an H-4 visa but may not work. Yes, spouses and children under 21 may enter on an H-4 visa but may not work. Yes, spouses and children under 21 may enter on an L-2 visa and are allowed to work. 

Non-Immigrant Visas

  • E-1 and E-2 visas for citizens of certain foreign countries, based on various treaties with the United States;
  • H-1B visas for non-immigrant foreign professionals in specialty occupations recruited by U.S. employers for a specified period of time;
  • J-1 visas available to non-immigrants who fall under the designation of “Exchange Visitor;” and
  • L-1 visas for temporary non-immigrant employees of a U.S. subsidiary or parent company;
  • R-1 visas for temporary nonimmigrant religious workers;

Click on any of the links above for information about qualifications and requirements for those visas and petitions. Do not hesitate to contact Immigrations Solutions LLC for more details.

Permanent Employment Visas

A permanent employment visa (also known as a “green card”) allows a foreign national to permanently work and live in the United States.  Permanent residents are subject to fewer restrictions than nonimmigrant, temporary workers and generally may apply for U.S. citizenship after five years.  In order to obtain a permanent employment visa, the individual’s employer typically must file a petition with U.S.C.I.S.  If the individual is already in the U.S. on a temporary visa, he or she may apply for “adjustment of status” to permanent residence once U.S.C.I.S. approves the employer’s petition.  If the individual is outside the U.S., then a U.S. consular official will process the immigrant visa. 

Because of numerical and per-country limits (detailed below), some individuals must wait a significant period of time to apply for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa even after U.S.C.I.S. approves the employer’s petition.  The Department of State issues a monthly visa bulletin detailing the availability of visas for each preference category on a per-country basis.  Some visa categories are “current,” meaning that visas in that category are immediately available to individuals when their employer’s petition is approved by U.S.C.I.S.   Other categories are considerably backlogged, requiring the applicant to wait years for a visa to become available. 

The overall numerical limit for employment-based immigrant visas is capped at 140,000 per year.  This number includes the immigrants plus their eligible spouses and minor children, meaning that the actual number of employment-based immigrants is less than 140,000 each year.  The 140,000 visas are split between five preferences, detailed below:

Permanent Employment-Based Preference System

Preference Category

Eligibility

Yearly Numerical Limit

1

Priority Workers

“Persons of extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers, multinational managers and executives. 40,000* or 28.6%

2

Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability

Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business. 40,000** or 28.6%

3

Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers

Skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or “other” workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal. 40,000*** or 28.6%    

 

“Other” unskilled laborers restricted to 5,000

4

Certain Special Immigrants

Certain “special immigrants” including religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, translators, former U.S. government employees, and other classes of aliens.  10,000 or 7.1%

5

Immigrant Investors

Persons who will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full time U.S. workers.  10,000 or 7.1%
Total Employment-Based Immigrants 140,000 for principals and their dependents

*Plus any unused visas from the 4th and 5th preferences

**Plus any unused visas from the 1st preference

***Plus any unused visas from the 1st and 2nd preference

Additionally, each country is limited to 7 percent of the worldwide level of U.S. immigrant admissions, otherwise known as per-country limits.  This explains why intending immigrants from certain countries, such as Mexico and the Philippines, must wait considerably longer for employment-based immigrant visas to become available than intending immigrants from other countries. 

There are a number of different opportunities for both immigrants and non-immigrants seeking employment in the United States. These include:

Immigrant Visas

  • EB-1 visas for immigrants who are among the most able and accomplished in their respective fields within the arts, sciences, education, business, or sports;
  • EB-2 visas, also known as National Interest Waiver (NIW) or EB-2 NIW for immigrants who have a permanent job offer and an approved labor certification (although there are certain waivers of these requirements);
  • Foreign Nurse Immigration petitions;
  • EB-3 visas for “Skilled Workers, Professionals Holding Baccalaureate Degrees and Other Workers;”
  • EB-4 visas for Special Immigrants, such as religious workers and certain overseas employees of the U.S. Government;
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