The United States has always been considered to be the land of opportunity. Working for an employer or starting a business in the U.S. can be a way for immigrants to earn a living for themselves and their family while contributing to the economy. There are lots of opportunities for highly skilled foreign workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) as well as temporary agricultural workers, full time nurses, and many more.
The first step in getting a worker visa is to have a job offer in the U.S. Your employer must be involved in the entire petitioning process and is the one who has to initiate the completion of the USCIS forms and pay the filing fees. The potential to obtain a green card through employment does exist if your employer can file a labor certification. The employer must certify that there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers who are willing to work for the wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage for that type of job. In all cases of work visas, your employer must demonstrate that you have the qualifications to meet the requirements of the job through your education and past work experience.
Many immigrants come to the United States to start a business or to invest in an already existing business. Whether you own a small foreign company or a large multi-national company, the opportunity to expand to the U.S. by opening a branch office or starting a subsidiary business can allow you and your family to live and work in the U.S. Other foreign individuals that have the financial means to invest substantially in a U.S. business where a significant income is generated can apply for an investor visa as long as the foreigner’s country has a Treaty Agreement with the United States.
Heitz Immigration Law can provide you with legal advice and administer all of the following employment and business immigration services. Affordable flat rates, flexible payment plans and stellar customer service are standard.
This visa category allows U.S. employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations. The most common types of occupations for this visa are in the fields of Information Technology, Engineering, Science, and Education however there are many more. The employee must work only for the sponsoring employer and the visa will be granted for an initial period of up to 3 years which can be extended to a maximum of 6 years. One key aspect to qualify for the H-1B visa is the requirement of having at least a Bachelor of Arts degree or higher. For a complete breakdown of how to qualify for this visa, read our blog post: Do You Qualify For A Specialty Occupation To Work In The USA?
This is a visa program that allows certain U.S. employers or agents to bring in foreign workers to fill temporary jobs in the agriculture industry. The key is that the job must be temporary and/or seasonal, therefore, ideal for farms where crops need extra laborers at certain times of the year. As with most other work visas, the employer must prove that there are not sufficient U.S. workers to fill the jobs. Only certain countries are eligible to participate in this visa program.
If you are a citizen of a Treaty Country, you may be able to live in the U.S. to oversee or work for your foreign enterprise that is engaged in trade between the U.S. and your country. You must own at least 50% of the foreign company and more than 50% of the trade must be between the two countries. Trade is not only limited to an exchange of goods, but also covers and exchange of services and technology, as long as the title of trade passes from one party to another. Some examples of trade, other than the obvious being tangible goods, are international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism and communications. Once granted, the E-1 trader visa can be extended for an unlimited number of times, provided that you maintain your intention to depart whenever the status changes such that you cannot or do not want to extend it.
Similar to the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa requires that you own at least 50% of your foreign enterprise, however, trade is not a factor here. This visa allows you to live in the U.S. to develop and direct your business. A substantial amount of investment in the U.S. is required where the committed funds are irrevocable and subject to loss if the investment fails. The meaning of “substantial” is defined by the nature of the business and will be evaluated based on how much it would cost to set up a similar business within the same industry. The capital investment must be large enough to show that you are committed to the successful operation of the business. Both the E-1 and the E-2 visa allow for a maximum stay of 2 years and can be extended for up to 2 years. But unlike the E-1 visa, the E-2 investor visa does not allow for unlimited extensions. However, neither the E-1 or the E-2 visas on their own, lead to a green card for the visa-holder.
If you worked for a foreign company at least one year out of the last three years, then your foreign company can relocate you to its U.S. subsidiary, branch or parent company. The L-1 visa is different from the E-1 and E-2 visas because the U.S. employer petitions on behalf of the alien employee. The idea is to allow a foreign business to expand into the U.S. by sending a qualified executive or manager (L-1A visa), or an employee with specialized knowledge (L-1B visa) to the U.S. to set up and run the new branch. The total stay allowed under the L-1 visa is 7 years. If the U.S. company is successful, there is the opportunity that the company can sponsor the L-1 visa holder for a green card. For more details on eligibility for this visa, read our blog post: Can My Foreign Business Get Me A Green Card?
An offer for employment can lead to lawful permanent resident status if certain requirements are met. The road to a green card through PERM (Permanent Electronic Review Management) labor certification is an extremely complex and time-consuming process. But, if all the criteria is met, it can result in the ultimate prize. The basic premise for approving a labor certification application is to prove that the employer has the financial ability to pay the alien employee the minimum of a pre-determined prevailing wage, and that there are no sufficient U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job being offered to the alien. The employer is the one who must hire the attorney and pay all costs for the special recruitment process and other fees that will be required. It’s crucial to hire an immigration attorney who understands this complex process.
If you have been a member of a religious organization for at least 2 years that has been present in the U.S. as a non-profit religious organization for at least 2 years, then you may qualify for a religious worker visa. This is most commonly used for ministers, rabbis, priests, and other workers like religious counselors and religious healthcare workers. The job must be full-time and if the position has a salary, the organization must prove they have the financial ability to compensate the employment.
If you have a nursing school diploma and a license to practice nursing in your home country, you may qualify for a nurse visa petition. This will require either a license to practice in the U.S. or a certification by passing specific U.S. examinations. You will also need to pass the English language testing if you were not educated in an English-speaking country. The nurse visa can lead to a Green Card for yourself and your eligible family members that accompany you.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the U.S. if they qualify as a Professional Worker and have a job offer from a U.S. employer. Only certain professions apply to this visa and in most cases the applicant must have at minimum a B.A degree. For Canadians, this TN visa can be applied for right at the U.S. border upon entry thus making it an efficient means of obtaining a work visa for those that qualify.
If you have the opportunity and qualifications to work on a cruise ship, international airline in the U.S. or other sea vessel, you may be able to get a Crewmember visa. You will need to show evidence of the purpose of the trip and have the intent to depart after the job is over. You may apply in advance for the visa before actually being employed by the ship or airline, however, you may not use the visa for entry to the U.S. until you have actually accepted the employment.
Heitz Immigration Law can provide you with legal advice and administer all of the above employment and business immigration services. Affordable flat rates, flexible payment plans and stellar customer service are standard.
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