Business-based immigration

U.S. companies may wish to employ foreign national workers on either a short-term or a long-term basis. The criteria for petitioning for nonimmigrant work visas or permanent residence (“green cards”) for workers are specific, complicated and strict. Many of the immigration procedures involved in obtaining visas or permanent residence do not have much to do with business necessity even though these processes are supposed to help American companies employ much needed skilled employees from abroad. It is important for companies and foreign national workers to seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney early in the hiring process. Failure to properly plan, or to not follow the immigration laws and requirements, even if unintentionally, can result in liability for the company and disastrous results for the worker. Processing times can be lengthy for some immigration processes and thus should be started well before the company wishes to employ the foreign national.   Nonimmigrant visas for foreign national workers Foreign national workers may need a temporary work visa or nonimmigrant visa to pursue work in the U.S.  The U.S. offers an alphabet soup of different types of nonimmigrant visas — each with specific legal requirements and criteria.  The most common types of nonimmigrant work visas are: • B-1 Visas for Business Visitors: This visa allows foreign business visitors to enter the U.S. to confer with colleagues, attend board of director meetings, attend conferences and seminars, provide after-sales service and conduct preliminary work before setting up a U.S. office.  The B-1 should not be used for productive U.S. employment. • E-1 and E-2 Visas: Treaty Visas for Investment and Trade: These visas allow nationals of certain countries that have trade treaties with the U.S. to own and operate businesses in the U.S. as well as conduct trade within the U.S. • H-1B Visas for Professional Workers: The H-1B visa status authorizes employment of qualified individuals to work in positions that require a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the equivalent for entry into the position.  The biggest drawback to the H-1B program is that the demand for H-1B visas far exceeds the available supply. But, there are additional visas set aside for individuals from Chile and Singapore. Australians have an E-3 visa that is similar to the H-1B visa. • H-2B Visas for Seasonal Workers:  These are seasonal visas for unskilled labor where there are shortages of U.S. workers. Again, there are limits to the number of available visas and demand for these visas far exceeds supply.  Planning for H-2B visas should be started approximately 9-12 months before the workers are needed. • H-3 Trainee Visas: Valid for the period of training, or up to 18 months maximum, H-3 visas are used for foreign nationals who must obtain training in the U.S. that they will later apply outside the U.S.  • J-1 Visas of Cultural Exchange: This program may include students, trainees, interns, teachers and professors, research scholars and international cultural visitors. This program is administered by the U.S. Department of State.  • L-1A…

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