H1-B temporary work visas for professionals
H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows a US company to employ a foreign individual for up to six years. The initial visa may be granted for up to three years. It may then be extended further upto a maximum of six years. However, in certain limited circumstances, H-1B employees who have started a green-card process may be eligible to extend their status beyond six years, in one-year increments. The employee may be eligible for extension beyond six years if either an application for labor certification or an immigrant visa petition was filed on his or her behalf at least 365 days prior to reaching the 6-year H-1B limit. It is also possible to obtain extensions beyond the six years in three-year increments if an I-140 is approved and the individual is from a country for which the Visa numbers are not current..
H-1B classification applies to jobs in a "specialty occupation" , which term is deined a those occupations that require 'theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge'. Typically this is a twin requirement BOTH of which must be met- first the position itself should be a Specialty occupation, and secondly the candidate must possess qualification required to perform the specialty occupation.
'Specialty occupation' requires completion of a specific course of higher education (usually Bachalor's degree or higher in the Specialty occupation). For certain individuals with specialied skills and considerable work experience, equivalency evaluations can be obtained to meet the educational requirements.
H1B approval is specific to the petitioning employer and also extends only to the specific occupation named in the H-1B petition. However, USCIS regulations do permit employees to work with multiple employers simultaneously by filing 'Concurrent' H1Bs.
H1B status can also be transferred from one employer to another but only after the new company files a petition with USCIS to transfer the H1B employee. The new employer need not wait for actual approval to be received from USCIS to hire the H1B worker.
H-1B for new workers are subject to annual limits per fiscal year. Currently, the annual limit (quota) is 65,000 per year with an additional 20,000 available to H-1B applicants holding advanced degrees from US Schools (Masters or higher). The earliest filing for new quota can be done on April 1 each year for employment begining October 1. However, certain educational institutions and nonprofit or government research organizations are exempt from the cap. Out of the quota special cap number allocations (6800) are reserved for nationals of Chile or Singapore pursuant to special Trade Agreements with those countries.
Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of H-1B workers are eligible for H-4 dependent visas in the H-4 classification to join the H1 holder in the United States to stay for the duration of the H1B visa period. H-4 spouses and children may not work. However, effective May 26, 2015, USCIS is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Those H-4 dependent spouses will be eligible, whose spouses are H-1B nonimmigrants and are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition, or have been granted H-1B status under AC21. Eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765, with fee and documents after May 26, 2015.
IMPORTANT H1B ALERT : NEW WORK LOCATION
NOW REQUIRES AN AMENDED H1B PETITION
L-1 (Intra Company transfers Visas)
For our L-1 clients, we provide comprehensive end-to-end range of services covering review and advice on all related corporate matters in US & overseas country, including advice on overseas corporate structuring/ re-structuring, overseas corporate, financial, tax and payroll documents, US incorporation, immigration, accounting, tax and payroll services.
L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies operating both in the US and overseas to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the USA operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of any US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.
Spouses and children of L-1 workers are eligible for dependent visas in the L-2 classification. L-2 spouses are eligible for Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
There are two categories of employees who may qualify for L1 visas:
An executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer.
L1B -Specialized Knowledge Staff
This category encompassed those individuals who have sound knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Individuals under this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for one to three years extendible to a maximum of five years.
Blanket L-1 program
Certain multinational companies are eligible to process L-1 applications under the "Blanket L-1" program. The organization has to seek approval from USCIS under L-1 blanket program, and once approved under Blanket L-1 program, the organization does not have to go through the USCIS stage agin for individual candidates, allowing such candidates to apply directly for an L-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate.
L-1 visa status may usually be approved for up to three years, although for new US entities it may be approved for one year initially, but can be extended for up to a total of seven years for an L-1A (manager or executive) or five years for an L-1B (“specialized knowledge”). After the end of the maximum L-1 period of stay in the U.S., the candidate must reside outside of the U.S. for a full year before becoming eligible for another five or seven years of L -1 time.
USCIS regulations now prohibit the issuance of L-1B "specialized knowledge" visas when the U.S. employment is primarily at third party client sites if either the employee will be principally controlled and supervised by the client; or if the work does not involve the provision of a product or service that requires specialized knowledge specific to the L-1 sponsoring employer. However, L-1 employees are allowed to accomplish work at client sites when the employees remain under the L-1 employer's full control ad supervision and when the employer is implementing or using its own specialized product, service or knowledge at that client site.
J-1 Exchange Visitors
The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training. The Department of State designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. J-1 nonimmigrants are therefore sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science. Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to: Professors or scholars, Research assistants, Students, Trainees, Teachers, Specialists, Nannies/Au pairs and Camp counselors.
The Sponsoring agency has to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status to the proposed candidate. After obtaining Form DS-2019, the candidate then has to apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Employment is authorized for J-1 nonimmigrants only under the terms of the exchange program.
Certain J-1 exchange visitors may be subject to a two year foreign home residency requirement at the end of their period of stay, if they participate in programs which were financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by an agency of the U.S. Government or by the exchange visitor's government, or who are nationals or residents of a country which have been designated by U.S. Information Agency as requiring the skills of the exchange visitor.
Spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of J-1 candidate are entitled to J-2 classification. They are also entitled to work in the US; however, their income may not be used to support J-1 candidate.
O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
The O nonimmigrant classification further falls in following sub-categories:
O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts. To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
O-1 visas are based on a petition filed by a U.S. employer offering a specific job in the U.S. that requires a person of extraordinary ability. The petitioning employer must submit evidence that the prospective employee meets the established O-1 criteria, that the position offered requires an individual of extraordinary ability, and that the individual is coming to the U.S. to continue to work in the area of extraordinary ability. O-1 status may be granted for an initial stay of a maximum of three years, and may be renewed indefinitely in one year increments.
Spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s are eligible for O-3 visa.
P visa classifications
P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete -The P-1 classification applies to Internationall recognized Athletes who are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance. The athlete must be coming to the United States to participate in individual event, competition or performance in which he/ she is internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country.
If the athlete is coming to the United States to participate in team events he/ she must have achieved significant international recognition in the sport. The event in which his/ her team is participating must be distinguished and require the participation of athletic teams of international recognition.
P-1B A Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group - The P-1B classification applies to individuals if he or she is coming to the United States temporarily to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. At least 75 percent of the members of the individual's group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year. The entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members or the acclaim of a particular production, is essential. Individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa classification.
Alien circus performers and essential circus personnel are exempt the one year requirement and the internationally recognized requirement. The alien or aliens must be coming to join a nationally recognized circus. Certain nationally known entertainment groups may have the internationally recognized requirement waived if they can establish they have been recognized nationally as outstanding in its discipline for a sustained amount of time in consideration of special circumstances.
P-2 Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program - The P-2 classification applies to you if performers who coming temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. The performer must be an artist entering the United States through a government recognized reciprocal exchange program. In addition, you must possess skills comparable to those of the United States artists and entertainers taking part in the program outside the United States.
P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program - The P-3 classification applies to entertainers who are coming temporarily to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique. For a P-3 visa, the entertainers must be coming to the United States either individually or as a group for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. In addition, they must be coming to the United States to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of your art form. The program may be of a commercial or noncommercial nature.
R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers
An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.
To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition.
R-1 religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for R-2 classification. An R-2 dependent is not authorized to accept employment based on this visa classification.
Other Non-Immigrant Categories
H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers - The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. H-2A petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries of certain designated countries, unless, for nationals of other countires, the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that it is in the U.S. interest for him or her to be the beneficiary of such a petition.
H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers - The H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work, the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers and the need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.
I Visa - Representatives of Foreign Media - Representatives of Foreign Media may be eligible for I nonimmigrant visa, if they represent a foreign information media outlet (press, radio, film, or other foreign information media), are coming to the United States to engage solely in this profession; and have a home office in a foreign country. Occupations under this category include reporters, film crews, editors, and similar occupations. Any spouse and children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow to join an I nonimmigrant.
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