While trying to live abroad in the US, you may have difficulty understanding the visa system. Applying on your own can be difficult, especially when there are so many visa scams running rampant. After you’ve applied for your visa, you may experience hardships trying to get approved.
Reaching out to a work visa lawyer can help expedite the process and resolve any issues that are delaying your visa application. Find out more by contacting IMM Solutions LLC now for a consultation with a Boston immigration attorney.
Who Can Petition for a Work Visa?
There are two ways that you can petition to obtain a work visa in the United States according to immigration law:
Employer-Sponsored Visa Petition
An employer can sponsor a foreign national for a work visa in the United States. The employer must demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the job and that the foreign worker has the necessary qualifications and experience to perform the job.
Certain individuals may be eligible to self-petition for a work visa in the United States, such as those who are applying for an EB-2 NIW visa or an O-1 visa. This is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
How Do I Apply for My Employment Green Card/Residency Through My Job in Boston?
The process for applying for an employment-based green card through a job in Boston can be complex and may require the assistance of Boston immigration lawyers. Here is a general outline of the steps involved:
PERM Labor Certification
The employer must first obtain a PERM labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. This involves a process of advertising the job to ensure that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position.
Once the PERM labor certification is approved, the employer can file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign worker.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
If you are already in the United States, you can file an application for Adjustment of Status to become a lawful permanent resident after the I-140 is approved. Otherwise, if you are outside the United States, you will need to go through Consular Processing to obtain an immigration visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy according to immigration law.
When applying for Adjustment of Status, you will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with other supporting documents and fees.
Interview and Background Check
You may be required to attend an in-person interview and pass a background check as part of the green card application process.
What Documentation Do I Need for an Employment Green Card/Residency?
The documentation needed for an employment-based green card or residency can vary depending on the specific type of visa and your individual circumstances. Here are some common documents that may be required:
This is the Arrival/Departure Record that shows a foreign worker’s legal admission to the United States.
A valid passport is required to establish identity and citizenship.
A certified copy of your birth certificate is needed to verify the date and place of birth.
If you are married, a certified copy of your marriage certificate is needed.
This can include your transcripts, diplomas, degrees, certifications, training, and other proof of education.
Your Work Experience
This can include letters of recommendation from previous employers, a resume or curriculum vitae, and other evidence of work experience.
Your Form I-140 is the Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers that an employer files on your behalf.
You may need to provide proof of financial support, such as bank statements or tax returns.
The foreign worker will need to undergo a medical examination by a designated physician to show that they are not a public health risk.
What Are the Legal Fees to Petition for an Employment Green Card?
Immigration attorneys typically charge an hourly rate, which can range from around $200 to $500 per hour or more. The total cost for legal fees can therefore depend on the amount of time required to prepare and file the petition, as well as any additional services that the attorney may provide.
Some immigration attorneys may offer a flat fee for certain types of employment-based green card petitions, such as the EB-2 or EB-3 categories. These flat fees can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the case and the attorney's experience.
Common FAQs for Your Immigration Attorney
Some common questions petitioners have for their immigration attorneys include:
What Happens If I Lose My Job While On a Work Visa?
If you have a nonimmigrant work visa, such as an H-1B or L-1 visa, you may be allowed a grace period of up to 60 days to find a new job and sponsor a new visa. During this time, you may remain in the United States, but you may not work unless you find a new employer to sponsor you.
What Types of Work Visas Are Available, and Which One Is Best for Me?
You will need to speak to an immigration lawyer about your visa petition to find out the best option. The following visas might be more applicable to you:
- H-1B Visa: This visa is for foreign workers who will be employed in a specialty occupation.
- L-1 Visa: This visa is for intra-company transferees who are coming to work in the U.S.
- E-2 Visa: This visa is for investors and entrepreneurs who are coming to the United States to invest in or start a business.
- TN Visa: This visa is for Canadian and Mexican citizens who will be working in certain professional occupations in the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
- O-1 Visa: This visa is for individuals who have extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- P Visa: This visa is for athletes, entertainers, and artists who will be performing in the United States
Can I Change Jobs or Switch to a Different Visa While On a Work Visa?
It is possible to change jobs or switch to a different type of visa while on a work visa, but it can be a complex process that requires careful planning and coordination.
Work with a work visa immigration lawyer in Boston for the best advice on managing your labor certification. With our Boston immigration attorneys, you can undergo the Boston visa petition in a reasonable amount of time to obtain permanent citizenship.
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.
Note: At this time our office is not processing H-2B Season Worker Visas.
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.|
- 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
Yearly Numerical Limit
|“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%|
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%|
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
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%|
|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:
- 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;