B. Non Immigrant Visas and Other Benefits

 

1. Business

 

a. Labor Certificates

 

Employers, who wish to offer permanent full time employment to their foreign born employees immigrating to the US, need to file a labor certificate with the Department of Labor (DOL). What the certificate does is show that qualified U.S. workers are not available for the employment offered to the foreigner, and that the wages and working conditions offered do not adversely affect U.S. workers. Before filing the certificate, the employer needs to have already tried to hire U.S. workers at the prevailing wages by advertising, posting notice of the job opportunity, and by any other proper means. If the employer is unable to find a US worker, then it is allowed to file an application and ask the State workforce Agency (SWA) for a determination of prevailing wage and condition through a labor condition application. The process is now made easier and faster by allowing employers to file the application online. Once SWA determines that the employer has fulfilled the DOL requirements, it sends the file to the national DOL office which would either grant or deny the application. If the certificate is denied, the employer receives a notice of finding and has 35 days to appeals the decision with the DOL.

 

 

b. B-1 Business Visas

 

B-1 visas are visitors visas and are for those who wish to visit the U.S. temporally to conduct business. The visas are usually issued for a period, anywhere from 3 months to ten years. Those who wish to work or study in the U.S should not seek visitor visas.

 

c. H-1BTemporary Professional, Seasonal and Agricultural Workers Visas

 

The H-1 visas are the most common forms of employment visas and they allow a foreign national to legally work in the U.S. for a period of three years, renewable for another three years. Since it is quicker to obtain an H-1 visa than a green card, most employers obtain the H-1 visas for their employees and then apply for the permanent residency afterwards. The advantages of having an H-1visa is that it allows the holder to both work and travel outside of the U.S. It also gives (through the H-4 visa) family members the benefits of legally residing in the U.S. Note only employers are able to apply for the H-1. A foreign national cannot apply for him/herself. Also note that there is a quota of H-1 beneficiaries on any given year. Some H-1 visa holders such as those who are employed at institutions of higher learning are exempt from the quota.

 

 

d. J-1 and Q-1 Exchange Visa

 

J-1 and Q-1 visas are exchange visitors visas and are usually given to au pair, physicians, teachers, researchers and students. These visa holders participate in an exchange visitor program in the United States through a designated sponsoring organization. Spouses and minor children of J-1 visas holders are able to accompany the J-1 holder but may not work in the U.S. but they can study without having to obtain an F-1 visa. There is a two year foreign residency requirement for many people with J-1 or Q-1 visas and this means that such persons cannot adjust their status unless they have returned to their country for two years or obtained a waiver.

 

e. L1 Intra-company transferees

 

L1 visas allow businesses which are both in the US and abroad to transfer certain key employees from their foreign operations to the U.S for up to seven years. The L-1 visa holder must have worked for the business outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.

 

 

f. P-1-3 Entertainers Visas

 

The P-1 visa allows foreign nationals who are internationally recognized athletes, artists or entertainers to enter the U.S. for a specific occasion, competition or show. A P-2 visa allows the athlete, artist or entertainer to visit the U.S through an exchange program. While the P-3 visa is for those culturally unique performances conducted in the U.S. The P-4 allows spouses and minor children of P1 through 3 visa holders to accompany them to the U.S.

 

g. E1/E2

 

E-1 visas are for those foreign nationals who are key employees of businesses in countries which have entered into a treaty trade agreement with the U.S. Spouses and minor children of E-1 visa holders are able to accompany the E-1 person and are also able to work in the U.S.

 

E-2 visa holders are entrepreneurs whom are nationals of countries which have entered into treaties with the U.S. and who plan to invest substantially in a U.S. enterprise. Immediate relative of E-2 visa holders are able to accompany them into the U.S.

 

h. TN-1 Visas

 

Under NAFTA, Canadians have preferential treatments over other nationals. The TN1 visa is the same as the H-1 visa but it is only for Canadians. The TN visa is granted for a year and can be renewed indefinitely and it can be applied at the border as well as in the U.S.

 

2. Personal

 

a. Tourist Visas

 

Tourist visas are for those who plan to visit the U.S. temporally, for pleasure. Those who plan to scout for schools are able to use such visa but should let the consular service know beforehand of their intention. The visas are usually good for a period of three months to ten years, and once in the U.S. the visa holder can extend the visa for another six months.

 

b. F-1 and J-1 Visas

 

The F-1 visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to attend colleges, universities or high schools or language training programs full time. Note an F-1 visa holder is allowed to work at the school attended for 20 hours during school year and 40 hours during summer time but should be very careful with working without authorization outside of those parameters.

 

c. K-1 and K-3 Fiancee

 

K-1 visas allow U.S. citizens to bring their fiancé/e into the U.S. The citizen needs to marry said fiancé/e within 90 days of entry into the U.S. Unmarried minor children of fiancé/e are able to accompany the fiancé/e into the U.S.

K-3 visas are for the spouses of U.S citizens who are waiting in their country for an immigrant visa. This is a temporary visa which will allow them to enter the U.S and await the adjustment of their status.

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