One of the more sought after visas is the temporary work visa. Temporary work visas allow foreign nationals who seek to work in the United States to do so for a finite period of time. The person seeking the visa must have their prospective employer file a petition for the visa with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency.
There are many different categories of work visas and due to the complexity of the application process, it is best to enlist the aid of an attorney if you would like to obtain a temporary visa. Immigration attorney Mona Tehrani has processed hundreds of applications for work visas and will be happy to assist you. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment.
H-1B Visas for Professional Workers in Specialty Occupations
H-1B visas are for temporary workers who are employed in a specialty occupation. U.S. immigration law defines specialty occupations in this category as occupations that require theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor. These occupations include architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts. Applicants for H-1B visas must also hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree, or a higher degree. Applicants must also hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certificate which authorizes them to practice a specialty occupation.
Also, although it is a nonimmigrant visa, the H-1B is one of the dual intent visas that allows the beneficiary to pursue permanent residency status while legally maintaining non-immigrant status. It can take many years to obtain permanent residency and because H-1B visas can be renewed in one or three year increments, the visa holder can stay in the United States while pursuing permanent residency. H-1B visas are also capped and are only available for a limited time. Accordingly, it’s important that your application is complete and error free before submitting it because if it’s submitted and rejected for any reason, it is possible that the application window will close before you have time to refile. For example, the Fiscal Year 2014 H-1B visa cap of 65,000 was reached in the first week of the filing period, which ended on April
The spouses and unmarried minor children of the H-1B visa holder can obtain an H-4 visa to follow the H-1B visa holder to the United States. H-4 visa holders can study in the United States, but they cannot work in the U.S.
H-2B Temporary Workers
Under the H-2B visa category, U.S. employers who meet specific requirements can bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs for which there are not enough U.S. workers to fill the jobs that are available. Temporary jobs are analyzed from the employer’s point of view and are considered to be any job for which the employer’s need for the foreign national is temporary, regardless of whether the job could be described as temporary or permanent. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, the employer’s need for temporary labor must be for one year or less and be either a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak-load need, or an occasional or non-recurring need. Furthermore, a temporary labor certificate from the Department of Labor must be granted before an H-2B visa petition can be approved.
Similar to H-1B visa holders, the spouses and unmarried minor children of an H-2B visa holder can also obtain an H-4 visa to enter and study in the United States. However, also similar to H-1B visa holders, an H-4 visa holder cannot work in the United States.
L-1 Visas for Intra-Company Transferees
An L-1A nonimmigrant visa classification permits a U.S. employer to transfer an employee who is working in an executive or managerial capacity from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. An L-1A visa also allows a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the U.S. in order to establish one.
The L-1B nonimmigrant visa classification permits a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge that relates to the organization’s interests, from one of its affiliated foreign offices to an office in the United States. The L-1B visa also allows a foreign company that doesn’t yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee with specialized knowledge to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing one.
An employee who comes to the United States to establish a U.S. office of a foreign affiliate is allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees are allowed a maximum initial stay of up to three years. An L-1A employee may be granted an extension in increments of up to two years. The maximum amount of time an L-1A visa holder can stay in the United States is seven years. An L-1B visa holder can be granted an extension in increments of up to two years and is allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of five years.
Two types of L-1 visas are available to qualifying organizations, an Individual L-1 visa, and a Blanket L-1 visa. For Individual L-1 visas, an employer files an individual petition on behalf of the employee with the USCIS. For Blanket L-1 visas, an employer files a blanket L petition with USCIS. This gives them the flexibility to transfer eligible employees quickly because they don’t have to file an individual L petition for each employee. If the blanket L petition is approved, then generally the employee only needs to file a shortened version of the L-petition, and submit a copy of the approved blanket petition notice, along with any applicable supporting documents, to the U.S. consulate or embassy.
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany the principal L-visa holder for the duration of their stay in the United States can seek to enter the country using an L-2 visa. Spouses of L-1 visa holders can also seek authorization to work in the United States.
O-Visas for Persons with Extraordinary Ability, Cultural Exchange Visitors
An O-1 temporary work visa is available to foreign nationals who possess extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. These abilities must be proven by sustained national or international acclaim and the O-1 applicant must be entering the United States temporarily to continue working in their area of extraordinary ability. O-1 visas are also available to foreign nationals who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the television or motion picture industry.
An O-2 visa allows essential support personnel to an O-1 visa holder to temporarily enter the United States to assist the O-1 visa holder. The assistance must be for a specific athletic or artistic event, or in the motion picture or television industry. O-2 visas are not available for foreign nationals who accompany or assist O-1 visa holders in education, science, or business. Also, the O-2 visa applicant must be an essential part of the O-1 visa holder’s actual performances or events and must also have critical skills and services for the O-1 visa holder that he himself, and others as well, do not have. With respect to film and television production, the O-2 visa applicant must also have a longstanding working relationship with the O-1 visa holder that is essential to the successful completion of a production that is taking place both inside and outside the United States.
Spouses and dependent children who wish to accompany an O-1 or O-2 visa holder are eligible to apply for an O-3 visa. The O-3 visa holder may not work in the United States but can engage in full-time or part-time academic studies.
P-Visas for Performing Artists and Athletes
The P-visa category is a temporary work visa for foreign athletes and entertainers and is divided into four different classifications.
A P-1 visa is for foreign athletes, entertainers, and artists who are coming to the United States on a temporary basis to perform at a specific event, engage in a specific performance, or take part in a specific competition. The competition can be an individual event or a team event and the performance must be at an internationally recognized level. P-1 visas are also available to foreign nationals entering the United States to perform with an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally for being outstanding in a particular area so long and as long as the applicant has had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for a significant period of time, generally considered to be at least one year.
A P-2 visa is for artists or entertainers who are coming to the United States on a temporary basis as part of a government recognized reciprocal exchange program. The program must be between organizations in the United States and organizations in one or more foreign states.
A P-3 visa is for artists or entertainers who are coming to the United States on a temporary basis to perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique.
The spouses and unmarried minor children of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder may obtain a P-4 visa to follow the principal visa holder to the United States. The P-4 visa holder cannot work without receiving authorization but can engage in full-time or part-time academic studies.
R-1 Visas for Religious Workers
The Religious Worker (R) visa is for foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States temporarily to work in a religious capacity. R-visa holders can remain in the United States for a maximum of five years to pursue their vocation. Religious workers include persons who perform ministerial activities, or who work in a religious vocation or occupation either for, or at the request of, a religious denomination which has a bona fide non-profit religious organization within the United States. The R-visa applicant must have been a member of the denomination for at least the two-year period immediately preceding their application for religious worker status.
The term “religious workers” includes “ministers of religion” who are authorized by a recognized denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties that are usually performed by clergy members of that denomination. A “religious vocation” means a calling to religious life, and is evidenced by the demonstration of a lifelong commitment. For example, the taking of vows demonstrates such a commitment. Examples of religious vocation positions include nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters. With respect to “religious occupations,” these are occupations whose primary duties relate to a traditional religious function and are recognized as carrying out the religious creeds and beliefs of the denomination. Positions that are primarily administrative or support-related are not included. Some examples of these include janitors, maintenance workers, clerks, fund raisers, and solicitors of donations. Lastly, lay preachers and persons who are not authorized to perform clergy duties are not considered religious workers.
Spouses and minor unmarried children may be granted R-2 visa status. This status allows them to accompany the primary R-1 visa holder to the United States. It also allows them to engage in full-time or part-time academic studies, but they are not permitted to work in the United States.
As you can see, there is a wide range of temporary visas that are issued to foreign nationals. Because of the number of visas and the complexity of the process, it is helpful to have an attorney assist you with obtaining a temporary visa.
Immigration Attorney Mona Tehrani has extensive experience with visa applications and would be happy to guide you through the process. Please contact us to learn more about the services that we offer or to schedule an appointment.