Many foreign nationals enter the United States every year for business-related purposes. This movement of personnel internationally facilitates foreign investment in the United States and allows the best and the brightest to work in the United States and contribute to U.S. economic growth. Obtaining a work-related immigration visa for a foreign national, however, is a complex, technical and time-consuming task. Our Seattle immigration attorneys offer clients assistance in obtaining all types of nonimmigrant employment visas, including the E-1 trader visa, E-2 investor visa, H-1B specialty occupation visa, H-2B temporary visa, L-1A or L-1B transferee visa, O-1 and TN visas. Our attorneys help businesses work through the visa process quickly and successfully.

IMMIGRATION VISA CATEGORY DEFINITIONS

H-1B Specialty Occupations

The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov

H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers

The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. A U.S. employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on a prospective worker’s behalf.

To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification:

  • The employer must establish that its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as permanent or temporary. The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak-load need, or an intermittent need
  • The employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work
  • The employer must show that the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers
  • Generally, a single, valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or, in the case where the workers will be employed on Guam, from the Governor of Guam, must be submitted with the H-2B petition. (Exception: an employer is not required to submit a temporary labor certification with its petition if it is requesting H-2B employment in a position for which the DOL does not require the filing of a temporary labor certification application)

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov

E-1 Treaty Traders

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov

E-2 Treaty Investors

The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov

L-1A Intra-company Transferee Executive or Manager

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.  This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.  The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee.  The following describes some of the features and requirements of the L-1 nonimmigrant visa program.

General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee

To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

Also to qualify, the named employee must

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.  Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization.  It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.  See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for more complete definitions.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov

L-1B Intra-company Transferee Specialized Knowledge

The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.  This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.  The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee.

General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
Also to qualify, the named employee must

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Specialized knowledge means special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.  (See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(D).)  Such knowledge is beyond the ordinary and not commonplace within the industry or the petitioning organization.  In other words, the employee must be more than simply skilled or familiar with the employer’s interests.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov

O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:

  • O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry)
  • O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
  • O-2: individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1
  • O-3: individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s

General Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,www.uscis.gov