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Non-Immigrant visas are available to individuals who will be employed by a U.S.-based employer, or a foreign business affiliated with a U.S. entity, hence the term “employment-based” visa. Each such visa allows a foreign national, aka “alien worker” to live and work in the United States for a temporary period of time (measured in months to years). Upon obtaining an employment-based visa, alien workers can stay and live in the U.S. for the duration of the visa, as long as the same employer who petitioned the U.S. government on their behalf still employs them, and the employer is compliant with the visa’s regulated standards. For some categories, and if certain conditions are met, alien workers who are already living and working in the U.S., may be eligible for new or sequential employment by a new American employer.

The attorneys at Dearson, Levi and Pantz, can assist individuals and businesses with non-immigration visas in any of the following categories (a non-exhaustive list):

Category E-1, E-2 Visas: Treaty Traders, Investors & Immediate Families

The E-1 (Treaty Trader) and E-2 (Treaty Investor) visas are available to foreign nationals who are citizens of a country with which the U.S. has a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation (“Treaty Country”). As long as such a treaty exists between the two countries, (i) the trade of goods and services between treaty entities may justify the issuance of visa to their employees, or (ii) the investment by a Treaty Country national in an American entity will allow the issuance of an investor’s visa.

  • E-1 Visa: Treaty Trader Visa
    To qualify for an E-1 visa, there must be a substantial trade of goods, services or technology principally between the U.S. and the treaty country. For E-1 visa purposes, the item of trade and the title of that item must pass from one party to the other in exchange for consideration.
  • E-2 Visa: Treaty Investor Visa
    To qualify for an E-2 visa, there must be a substantial amount of capital invested in the U.S. and the investment must be in a real operating commercial enterprise; not “marginal.” The investor must have control of the funds and the investment must be “at risk”.

The Business Immigration attorneys at Dearson, Levi and Pantz assist clients in navigating the complexities and nuances of immigration law to develop an appropriate solution.

Category H Visas: Temporary Workers in Specialized Occupations
  • H1-B Visa: Workers in Specialized Occupations

An H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to hire foreign professionals in specialty occupations to work in the United States for a specific period of time. The initial H-1B visa may be issued for up to three years and extended for up to two years. Later, it may be extended for one additional year, for a maximum of 6 consecutive years.

H1-B visa holders may legally live and work in the U.S. for a total of six consecutive years. Their spouses and children (who are under 21 years of age) may accompany them and legally live in the U.S. on an H-4 visa. Barring certain exceptions, the number of H-1B visas issued each year is subject to an annual cap (known as an H-1B cap) that is determined by the U.S. Congress.
In the H-1B petition for a visa, the U.S. employer acts as the petitioner and the foreign employee is considered the beneficiary. To qualify for the H-1B visa, the position offered to the foreign professional must be a “specialty occupation,” and the employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor. The LCA attests that the H-1B worker will be paid prevailing wages for work performed, and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely impact the working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. Non-U.S. individuals themselves may not apply for the H-1B visa (only U.S. employers may do so).

Category L Visas: Intra-Company Transferees & Immediate Families

The L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows companies to relocate qualified foreign employees to a U.S. affiliate of a foreign company. The qualified employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the company for at least one year out of the last three years in order to be eligible.

Multinational companies wishing to develop new markets within the United States may use L-1 visas. The L-1 visa also grants entry to foreign employees with specialized knowledge to work at a newly established office. The L-1 visa is normally employed to promote interchange of ideas, diversity among high level employees, and regular rotation of key personnel.
There are two different L-1 Visa classifications: L-1A and L-1B.

  • L-1A Visa: Intra-Company Transferee – Executive or Manager
    The U.S. affiliate may obtain an L-1A visa for a foreign employee who will be transferred to the U.S. in an executive or managerial capacity. The L-1A visa may initially be issued for a period of three years and may be extended for up to a total of seven years.
  • L-1B Visa: Intra-Company Transferee Possessing Specialized Knowledge
    An L-1B visa may be obtained for a foreign employee who will be transferred to the U.S. to fill a position which requires specialized knowledge of the organization’s products, services, proprietary process(es) or other function(s), and has gained that specialized knowledge working for the related company abroad. The L-1B visa may be issued for an initial period of three years and may be extended for up to five years.

The Business Immigration attorneys at Dearson, Levi and Pantz assist clients in navigating the complexities and nuances of immigration law to develop an appropriate solution.