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Soreff Law - Seattle Immigration Lawyers

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Employment & H1B Visas

An individual seeking to work in the U.S. may be eligible for a non-immigrant (temporary) or immigrant (permanent) visas. A temporary work visa permits an individual to work for a company in the U.S. for a specific period time (could be years). A permanent visa (green card) permits an individual to work permanently in the U.S. The eligibility, requirements, and the process for both temporary and permanent visas differ. Due to the lengthy immigrant visa process, companies usually seek temporary visas for employees first or at the same as they are seeking permanent visas.

Temporary Work Visas

There are many different ways to get permission to wok while in the U.S. temporarily. The temporary work visas for an individual depends on many factors including, but not limited to, the individual’s education, training, citizenship , the company offering the employment opportunity and the specific job offered. Below is a list of the most commonly used temporary work visas which our office specializes in. (Note, In addition to specific temporary work visas, there are other ways to obtain permission to work in the United States, e.g. through asylum, cancellation of removal, family-based applications, or DACA, etc.)

  • H-1B, Specialty Occupation
  • H-1B status is available to persons working in the U.S. in a position requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specialty occupation. The employee must have at least the required degree or the equivalent. There are a limited number of H-1B visas available each year.

    Initial validity is for three years and can be renewed for additional three years for total of six years. Extensions beyond six years are available if permanent residency (green card) has been sought. Dependents can accompany their family member, attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

  • B-1/B-2 (Visitors for Business/Pleasure)
  • The B is the most commonly utilized visa. It allows an individual to come to the U.S. to visit for either business or pleasure (such as for a vacation or medical treatment). Individuals can stay up to six months. Work is not permitted on a B-1 visa, but conducting business is allowed (such as meetings, conferences, and starting a business). Extensions of up to 6 months are possible. Dependent family members are not automatically included and must apply for their own B visas.

  • E-1/E-2 (Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor)
  • The U.S. has entered into trade and/or investor treaties with over fifty countries. The E-1 treaty trader allows citizens from treaty countries to conduct substantial international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. The E-2 treaty investor allows citizens from treaty countries to develop and direct the operations of a new or existing business in which he/she has invested, or is actively investing, a substantial amount of money. Key employees from the treaty country who are essential to the business can also obtain an E visa.
  • Admission is usually for two years and extensions are regularly approved if trade or investment continues. Dependents can accompany their family member to the U.S. and can attend school. Dependent spouses can work in the U.S.

  • E-3 (Australian), Specialty Occupation
  • E-3 status is available to Australian citizens working in the U.S. in a position requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specialty occupation. The employee must have at least the required degree or the equivalent.

    Initial validity is for two years and extensions are regularly approved. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school. Dependent spouses can work.

  • H-1B1 (Chile and Singapore), Specialty Occupation
  • H-1B1 status is available to Chilean and Singaporean citizens working in the U.S. in a position requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specialty occupation. The employee must have at least the required degree or the equivalent. There are alternative, more generous, requirements for the bachelor’s degree requirement for agricultural managers (Chile), physical therapists (Chile), management consultants (Chile and Singapore), and disaster relief claims adjusters (Chile and Singapore).

    Initial validity is for one year and one year extensions are regularly approved. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

  • L-1 (Intracompany Transferees)
  • The L-1 status is utilized by companies, large and small, to transfer managers, executives and employees with specialized knowledge, who have been employed for at least one year out of the last three years overseas, to a related entity in the U.S. There must be a relationship between the U.S. entity and the foreign company such as parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate. Personnel can also be transferred to start up U.S. operation.

    Initial validity is for three years (a new office would only be approved for one year initially), with extensions for up to 5 or 7 years depending on the category. There is a special track to permanent residence for managers and executives. Dependents can accompany their family member to the U.S. and can attend school. Dependent spouses can work in the U.S.

  • O-1 (Extraordinary Ability)
  • The O-1 is available to individuals with “extraordinary ability” to come and work in the U.S. The test of extraordinary ability is quite rigorous. Individuals who have “risen to the top of their field” can obtain permission to stay and work in the U.S.

    Initial validity is for three years and three year extensions are regularly approved. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

  • P-1 (Athletes, Artists, Group Entertainers)
  • P-1A is available to athletes and coaches (individually or as part of a team or group) that are internationally recognized. The category includes amateurs, professionals, and minor league members.

    Initial validity for P-1A athletes may be up to five years with extensions up to an additional five years, depending on the event. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

    Initial validity for P-1A athletic team or entertainment groups may be up to one year with extensions up to an additional five years, depending on the event. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

    P-1B is available to entertainment groups that have been recognized internationally for a sustained and substantial period of time. It is also available to individual performers who have had a sustained and substantial relationship with a group for over one year.

    Initial validity for P-1B athletic team or entertainment groups may be up to one year with extensions up to an additional five years, depending on the event. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

    P-2 is available to artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, who participate in a reciprocal exchange program.

    Initial validity for P-2 may be up to one year with extensions of up to one year, depending on the event. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

    P-3 is available to artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, who perform, teach, or coach in a culturally unique program.

    Initial validity for P-3 may be up to one year with extensions of up to one year, depending on the event. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

    The essential support personnel of the athletes, entertainers, or artists can accompany the principals to the U.S. if their work is integral to the success of the performance and cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker.

    Initial validity for essential support personnel may be up to one year with extensions of additional one year, depending on the event. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

  • R-1 (Religious workers)
  • The R-1 visa allows religious workers to work in the U.S. Individuals do not have to be a priest, rabbi, or nun to qualify for this type of visa; just a religious worker. The music instructor of a religious institution or school might qualify as their work involves religious teaching. Even fundraisers for religious institutions and members of the board of directors of the religious institution might be able to qualify for this type of visa as the religious values or instructions might be a significant component of their job. However, a janitor of a religious institution or school would probably not qualify.

    Initial validity is 30 months, with one extension for 30 months. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

  • TN (Treaty NAFTA for Canadians and Mexicans)
  • TN status is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens engaged in professional activities. A list of the professional activities is provided in the treaty. Although most of the jobs categories require the individual have a bachelor’s degree, there are some that do not.

    Initial validity is for three years and three year extensions are regularly approved. Dependents can accompany their family member and attend school, but they cannot work in the U.S.

Permanent Work Visas

Permanent resident status (also known as LPR status or a green card) can be obtained through employment. There are five preference categories. Some applications can be submitted by the individual and others require an employer.

The individual’s dependents (spouse and children) can also obtain permanent resident status. Their application is the adjustment of status application.

  • EB-1
  • Extraordinary Ability in the Arts, Sciences, Education, Business or Athletics An individual is eligible for this category if he or she can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics by sustained national or international acclaim. This can be demonstrated by either a major internationally recognized award (e.g. the Nobel Prize), or evidence of three of the ten criteria listed below:

    • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards (academic awards to students are given very little weight);
    • Membership in an association in the field for which classification is sought, which requires outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
    • Published material about the person in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
    • Participation as a judge of the work of others;
    • Evidence of original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance;
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field;
    • Artistic exhibitions or showcases;
    • Performance in a leading or cultural role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
    • High salary or remuneration in relation to others in the field; and
    • Commercial success in the performing arts.

    No labor certification or PERM is required in this category. An individual can file without an employer.

    Outstanding Professors and Researchers

    The EB-1, outstanding professors and researchers, category is available to an individual who is recognized as “outstanding” in a specific academic area, has at least three years of experience in teaching or research in that academic area, and seeks one of the following:

    • a tenure (or tenure track) teaching position at a college or university;
    • comparable position at a college or university to conduct research;
    • comparable position to conduct research with a private company. The private company must employ at least three full-time researchers and have achieved documented accomplishments in the academic field.

    No labor certification or PERM is required in this category. Research positions may be tenured, tenure-tracked, or a position with a permanent offer (i.e. an offer of indefinite or unlimited duration).

    Multinational Managers and Executives

    EB-1 status is available to an individual who has been employed for at least one year out of the last three years at an overseas company that wants to transfer the employee to their U.S. operations as an executive or manager. The company could transfer the individual to start a U.S. operation. Frequently, an individual seeking this visa first applies for the nonimmigrant L-1 visa.

    No PERM or labor certification is required in this category.

  • EB-2
  • Exceptional Ability in the Arts, Business, or Sciences (and National Interest Waiver)

    An employer can file for an individual with “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business whose employment will prospectively benefit the U.S. national economy, culture, education, or welfare. To show “exceptional ability”, the individual must meet any three of the following:

    • Degree relating to the area of exceptional ability;
    • Letter from current or former employer showing at least 10 years of experience;
    • License to practice profession;
    • Person has commanded a salary or remuneration demonstrating exceptional ability;
    • Membership in professional association;
    • Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organization.

    The job offer and the PERM may be waived if the employment is in the “national interest.” To qualify for a national interest waiver, the prospective employment must be in an area of substantial intrinsic merit, the benefit must be national in scope, and the national interest would be adversely affected if a PERM was required.

    Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degree (and National Interest Waiver)

    An employer can file for an individual holding an advanced degree or the equivalent (a bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive employment experience). The job offered must require such a degree or equivalent.

    The job offer and the PERM may be waived for persons holding an advanced degree if the employment is in the “national interest.” To qualify for a national interest waiver, the prospective employment must be in an area of substantial intrinsic merit, the benefit must be national in scope, and the national interest must be adversely affected if a PERM was required.

  • EB-3 – Professional, Skilled, and Other Workers
  • An employer can file for an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree (professionals); or who has at least two years of training or work experience (skilled workers); or who has less than two years of training or work experience (other workers). The job offered must require such education or experience listed.

    A job offer and a PERM are required.

  • PERM – Company files with Department of Labor
  • PERM (labor certification) is the first step in a three step process for an employer to sponsor an employee for LPR status (a green card) for the EB-2 and EB-3 preference categories.

    The employer must demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no U.S. workers able, willing, available, and qualified to perform the job to obtain the Department of Labor’s certification. This is called the PERM process. The other two steps are the I-140 Immigrant Petition and adjustment of status or consular processing.

  • I-140 Immigrant Petition – Company files with USCIS
  • For EB-1 and EB-2 National Interest Waiver applications, the I-140 petition is the first step of the process. For an EB-2 Advanced Degree and all EB-3 cases, an approved PERM is first required. The I-140 petition must be filed within 180 days of PERM approval.

    For the I-140 to be approved, the employer must demonstrate that the employer had the ability to pay the offered salary at the time the PERM was initiated, that the employer continues to have the ability to pay the employee until the green card is approved, and that employee meets the education and/or employment experience requirements set forth in the PERM.

  • I-485, Adjustment of Status –Individual and Dependent(s) File with USCIS or U.S. Embassy/Consulate
  • The final step of the employment-based permanent visa process is the I-485, if done in the U.S., or consular processing if done overseas. In some situations, this process can be done simultaneously with the I-140. It is at this stage of the process that the government ensures that the individual and his or her dependents are good people (i.e. not criminals, terrorists, drug addicts, etc.).

  • EB-4 – Religious Worker
  • The EB-4 category is available to religious workers to work and reside permanently in the U.S. Individuals do not have to be a priest, rabbi, or nun to qualify for this type of visa; he or she just has to be a religious worker. The music instructor of a religious institution or school might qualify as their work involves religious teaching. Even fundraisers for religious institutions and members of the board of directors of the religious institution might be able to qualify for this type of visa as the religious values or instructions might be a significant component of their job. However, a janitor of a religious institution or school would probably not qualify.

    Individuals seeking this classification must demonstrate they have been carrying on such work for at least two years preceding the application.

Permanent Visas for Investors (EB-5)

The EB-5 category allows individuals to stay permanently in the U.S. to manage their personal financial investment. It is designed to draw wealthy foreign nationals to invest in a U.S. business. The investment must be $1,000,000.00 dollars, although an investment of $500,000.00 in an underserved area or through a preapproved government-designated regional center will qualify. The funds being invested must have been legitimately obtained and must be personally at risk.

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Soreff Law

705 2nd Ave, Suite 1601
Seattle, WA 98104

Toll Free: (866) 722-4030
Local: (206) 452-4883
Fax: (206) 382-7074

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