Companies desiring to hire professionals usually turn to the H-1B nonimmigrant visa category. While this is the most popular, it is also one of the most highly regulated. We have been successful in assisting employers in filing H-1B petitions for accountants, software engineers, teachers, optometrists, and landscape architects. Other professional petitions include international legal specialists, life science market research analysts, musical therapists, and acupuncturists. The list goes on. We can help you determine if your situation fits the requirements of this category.
The basic requirements of the H-1B category are that the position being offered is one that normally requires at least a bachelor's degree in a specific field, the foreign national has such a degree or its equivalent in work experience, and the employer is willing to pay the required wage as determined by U.S. Department of Labor. Employers must also be aware that there is a limited number of H-1B visas available each fiscal year. Therefore timing is critical.
In addition to the H-1B, individuals from certain countries may want to consider other visa options for professionals that offer employment authorization. These include the following:
- TN for Canadians and Mexicans
- H-1B1 for Singaporeans and Chileans
- E-3 for Australians
Count on your Clark Lau LLC team to navigate you through the requirements and different steps of each of these options. We can help you anticipate the challenges ahead and consider options that are most appropriate for your situation.
Companies who do business in the U.S. and abroad may transfer certain employees to the U.S. using the L-1 nonimmigrant visa category. The employee must have been employed abroad in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position for at least 365 days within the last three years. The position in the U.S. must also be managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge in nature. And, the foreign employer must be a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture of the U.S. company.
The landscape for L-1 petitions is becoming more challenging. About 50% of petitions filed are being questioned and many applicants are being turned away at the consulates, even after a petition approval from the immigration services. While the standards of what is acceptable in the L-1 category continue to shift, we monitor the trends and try to anticipate the information that the immigration services will require in advance. This saves you time and resources. And, when the government does ask for more, we will work with you to develop a strategy to respond.
An often overlooked area of immigration services is employer compliance. While individuals are responsible to ensure that they have proper permission from the U.S. government to remain and work in the U.S., employers are also responsible for ensuring that all of their employees have proper employer authorization to work for them.
Employers are required to have employees, regardless of immigration status, complete a Form I-9 upon the start of employment.
The Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are also jointly administering the E-Verify program. Contact our offices to help you determine what your requirements are.
O-1 visas are reserved for those with "extraordinary ability" and "sustained national or international acclaim" which is defined differently depending on the field. Our firm has been successful in representing individuals in the arts, sciences, music, and even in business to obtain the O-1 visa.
Evidence for all fields may include receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards; publication of articles in professional or trade publications or major media; documentation of original contributions to the field; evidence of serving as a judge or reviewer of the work of other professionals; descriptions of one's achievements in professional or major trade publications or major media; performance in a lead or critical role; or commanding an unusually high wage. While the requirements are very specific, those who qualify are not subject to a numerical limit or a limit on how long they may maintain their status provided they continue to do work requiring "extraordinary ability."
Contact our team to evaluate your accomplishments to see whether this visa classification is appropriate for you. You may be closer than you think!
Are you an entrepreneur? If your principle purpose for coming to the U.S. is to engage in commercial trade with your home country or to start up or invest in a business, the E visa option may be appropriate for you. E visas require a treaty between the U.S. and your country of nationality. Additionally, employees of the E companies who fill a managerial, executive job or one which requires specialized skills may also apply for the similar visa classification. A majority of the ownership of the company employing the E must be held by citizens of the treaty country.
E-1 Treaty Traders must be engaged in "substantial" trade between the U.S. and the treaty country and at least 50% of the trade must be between the two countries. Trade can include the exchange of goods, services, or technology.
E-2 Treaty Investors must have made or be in the process of investing a substantial sum in the U.S. business. The investment must be sufficient to assure the business will succeed and be adequate for the type of business involved. The business must provide a reasonable return on the investment beyond the wage of the investor within several years of the establishment of the business. There is no set dollar amount required, but your Clark Lau attorney can provide insight into whether a proposed investment will qualify. We have experience filing E visa applications in a wide variety of industries and a wide range of investment amounts. We can provide guidance on what is likely to work for your situation.