The USA remains one of the most popular countries in the world as an immigration destination. Let us help you on the road to getting your USA visa.
The US has over 60 types of non-immigrant (meaning non-permanent) US visas.Amcorp offers you full US immigration services if you need help. The US immigration process can be confusing and bureaucratic, but our experts are here to help.
We have a number of US immigration programs detailing various categories.
NON IMMIGRANT VISA
B1/B2 Visitor Visa
Business travelers may enter the United States using a B1, or 'Visitor for Business' Visa. In practice these visas are invariably issued as jointly with B2, or 'Visitor for Pleasure' (i.e. Tourist) visa. This practice means that, if a candidate has an old tourist visa, it may be valid for a planned business trip.
While in the US as a business visitor, an individual may:
- Conduct Negotiations
- Solicit sales or investment
- Discuss planned investment or purchases.
- Make investments or purchases
- Attend Meetings, and participate in them fully.
- Interview and hire staff.
- Conduct research.
The following activities require a working visa, and may not be carried out by business visitors:
- Running a business.
- "Gainful employment".
- Payment by an organization within the US.
- Participating as a professional in entertainment or sporting events.
Obviously there is a considerable 'gray area' in between what definitely is allowed and what definitely isn't. It is advisable to err on the side of caution when bringing overseas persons into the USA on business visitor visas. However, in certain strictly limited cases, paid employment may be possible using a 'H1B'
Those entering on visitor visas will generally be granted 6 months admission (the maximum allowable is one year) on entry. It may be possible to obtain a six-month extension to the visit visa as long as the candidate will be maintaining visitor status, and there are good reasons to do so. It is sometimes possible to change status to another longer - term visa whilst in the US as a visitor, as long the candidate advised the relevant US Embassy or Consulate of this possibility beforehand, or there was no pre-conceived intent to do so.
NB: Visit visas should generally be applied for in a country of which the candidate is a Citizen or permanent resident. Applications made in other countries often run a high risk of being turned down. The most common reason for refusal of B1/B2 visas is the applicant showing insufficient evidence of social, family or economic ties to his/her country of residence that would ensure that s/he would return there following the visit to the USA.
B1/B2 Visitor Visa
The US H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine. Under the visa a US company can employ a foreign worker for up to six years.
Individuals are not able to apply for an H1B visa to allow them to work in the US. The employer must petition for entry of the employee. H1B visas are subject to annual numerical limits. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa.
Current immigration law allows for a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas to be made available each government fiscal year. This number includes 65,000 new H-1B visas issued for overseas workers in professional or specialty occupation positions, and an additional 20,000 visas available for those with an advanced degree from a US academic institution.
The US H1-B visa is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations. The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor's or higher degree or its equivalent.
- 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.
Positions that are not specialty occupations, or for which the candidate lacks the qualifications/experience for an H1B visa, may be filled using an H-2B visa. Also, applicants that are not eligible for H-1B visas may want to check out the L-1 visa. The L-1 visa a non- immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to their US operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.
The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may then be extended to a maximum of six years.
Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few US visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning the H- 1B visa holder can apply for and obtain a US Green Card while in the US on an H-1B visa. If you are still in the US on an H-1B visa and wish to remain in the US for more than six years, you can apply for permanent residency in the US to receive a Green Card. If you do not gain permanent residency prior to the expiration of your H-1B visa, then you must live outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H or L visa.
Family and Dependents
H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H4 Visa category as dependents. An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status. While, an H4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US, they may attend school, obtain a driver's license and open a bank account while in the US.
The J-1 Visa
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 Visa Program) currently includes 13 different exchange program categories. Depending on the particular category chosen, a visa obtained under the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program will allow a foreign national to work, train, or travel legally whilst experiencing life in the United States. The J-1 Visa program also benefits US businesses by providing them with seasonal and other staff.
Each category of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program has sponsoring organizations designated by the US Department of State. It is their role to authorize the entry of a foreign national for the purpose of completing the objectives of a specific program which they approve on behalf of the Department of State.
An applicant's spouse and children should be able to obtain a J-2 Visa to accompany the applicant to the U.S. or to join him or her at a later date. A J-2 visa application should be submitted for each dependant either at the same time as the J-1 visa application or at a subsequent date.
An applicant and his or her dependants must:
- pay for round-trip air travel
- bring sufficient funds to cover all living expenses to be incurred in the U.S.
- purchase adequate health insurance which is mandatory for this visa.
They must also meet certain other specific criteria. The attorney at Workpermit.com will be happy to offer advice in this respect. At the conclusion of their program, participants are expected to return to their home countries.
The J1 Exchange Visitor Program cateogories
The various J1 Visa categories cover the Private, Academic and Government Sectors
- Alien Physician
- Camp Counsellor
- Student, Secondary School
- Summer Work/ Travel
- Trainee and Intern and Flight Trainee
- Government Visitor
- International Visitor
- Short term scholar
- Professor and research scholar
- Student College/University
The United States L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the USA operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.
Companies operating in the US can apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L1 visa to transfer someone to the US from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for USA L1 visas:
The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years.
L-1B Specialized Knowledge Staff
This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendible to a maximum of five years.
On completing the maximum allowable period in L-1 status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.
Green Card Employment Based Immigration
Most employment based permanent residence applications involve demonstrating that there is a shortage of US workers to fill the vacancy. The process of demonstrating such a shortage is called 'PERM Labor Certification'; hereafter, called 'labor certification'. Wherever labor certification is involved, the total processing time can take an average of two to six months. Where labor certification is not required, it is normally easier to transfer a candidate to the US using a non-immigrant visa, and then to apply for a green card once they have taken up their position.
PERM labor certification
Before you may obtain a green card for a foreign worker who does not qualify for exemption from labor certification, that company must demonstrate to the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the US Department of Labor that the job is one for which there are not sufficient United States workers who are willing, qualified, and available at the time of application for a visa.
The employer must also demonstrate that the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and/or working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.
Labor certification does not permit an alien to start work in the US. It is simply one of several requirements before for the grant of an immigrant visa. An application for labor certification is made using official form ETA 9089. While no supporting documentation is required with the ETA 9080, the employer may need to provide additional supporting documentation upon request.
The following may obtain a Green Card without labor certification:
- Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in Business, Sciences, Arts, Education, or Athletics
- Outstanding Professors/Researchers
- International Executives/Managers
- Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Business with a "National Interest Waiver"
- Registered Physical Therapists
- Registered Professional Nurses
Aliens of Exceptional Ability in Business, Sciences, Arts, or Education.
Applications for a green card for aliens of exceptional ability should be supported by:
- Labor certification - unless waived
AND: at least 3 (and preferably more) of the following:
- An official academic record showing that the candidate has a degree, diploma, or certificate,
OR: A Similar award from an institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
- Letter(s) from current or former employers showing that the candidate has at least 10 years of full-time experience in the occupation for which he/she is being sought;
- A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
- Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability;
- Evidence of membership of professional associations;
- Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry of field by peers, Governmental entities, or professional, or business organizations.
International Executives and Managers:
A multinational corporation with an established US office (i.e. one that has been in existence for at least one year), may obtain a green card for international executives who have worked in an executive or managerial capacity for a non-US branch of the corporation for at least one year in the last three.
Applications under this category will generally need to be supported by:
- A Letter from the employer confirming employment outside the US, the nature of the previous employment, and the dates of employment.
- If relevant, a letter from the US employer confirming the nature of the previous employment, and the dates of employment.
- A job description for the prospective employee.
- Tax returns showing employment of the candidate by the same employer outside of the U.S. for at least one year in the last three years.
- Accounts for the employer in the US.
Professionals with advanced degrees
Subject to labor certification, members of the professions who hold advanced degrees may practice in the US.
Applications for a green card for a Professional with an advanced degree should be supported by:
- Labor certification; and
- An official academic record showing that the candidate has a U.S. advanced degree or an equivalent foreign degree; or
- An official academic record showing that the candidate has a U.S. baccalaureate degree or an equivalent foreign degree with letters confirming five years of post-qualification experience.
Subject to labor certification, any qualified member of the professions may practice in the US; their applications will take longer to process than those of professionals with advanced degrees.
Applications for a green card for a Professional should be supported by:
- A labor certification; and
- Evidence that the alien holds a US Baccalaureate Degree or equivalent foreign degree;
- Evidence that a Baccalaureate Degree is required for entry into occupation. This could be a letter from a professional organization confirming the requirements for admission to the profession.
For US immigration purposes, a 'skilled worker' is one who will be engaging in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience; the worker must have the relevant experience, and a shortage of those particular skills must be demonstrated. It will take longer to process an application for a Skilled Worker than it takes for a professional.
Applications for a green card for a skilled worker should be supported by:
- A labor certification, and
- Evidence that the alien meets the requirements of the labor certification such as educational qualifications, and letters confirming employment and/or training. The minimum requirement is at least two years of training or relevant experience.
Where labor certification has demonstrated a shortage any particular type of skills in the U.S., it is possible for those with that skill to be granted a green card.
EB 5 INVESTOR GREEN CARD PROGRAM
Foreign investors must meet specific United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) requirements to obtain their permanent residency through this program. In general, the investor must meet capital investment amount requirements, job creation requirements, and ensure that the business receiving the investment qualifies for the EB-5 program. EB-5 visa applicants, their spouse, and their children under 21 will obtain their permanent residency green card once all requirements have been successfully met and approved by the USCIS.
Required EB-5 Investment Amount
EB-5 visa applicants are typically required to make either a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment amount into a U.S. commercial enterprise. The EB-5 investment can take the form of cash, inventory, equipment, secured indebtedness, tangible property, or cash equivalents and is valuated based on U.S. dollar fair-market value.
The minimum amount of capital required for the EB-5 visa program may be decreased from $1 million to $500,000 if the investment is made in a commercial entity that is located in a targeted employment area (TEA). The EB-5 project must either be in a rural area or in an area that has high unemployment in order to qualify for TEA designation.
High unemployment areas are geographic locations with an unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent of the national unemployment rate at the time of the EB-5 investment. Rural areas are geographic regions that are outside of a city with a population of 20,000 or more. Rural areas can also be geographic regions that are outside of what the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has designated as metropolitan statistical areas.
EB-5 Job Creation Requirements
The USCIS requires that EB-5 investments result in the creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. These jobs must be created within the two year period after the investor has received their conditional permanent residency. In some cases, the investor must be able to prove that their investment led to the creation of direct jobs for employees who work directly within the commercial entity that received the investment. However, the EB-5 investor may only have to show that 10 full-time indirect or induced jobs were created if the investment was made in a regional center. Indirect jobs are those created in businesses that supply goods or services to the EB- 5 project. Induced jobs are jobs created within the greater community as a result of income being spent by EB-5 project employees.
EB-5 Business Entities
There are several types of business entities in which an EB-5 visa applicant can invest. In general, the applicants can invest directly in a new commercial enterprise or in a regional center. New commercial enterprises are lawful for-profit entities that can take one of many different business structures. Such business structures include corporations, limited or general partnerships, sole proprietorships, business trusts, or other privately or publicly owned business structures. All new commercial enterprises must have been established after November 29, 1990.
However, older commercial enterprises may qualify if the investment leads to a 40-percent increase in the number of employees or net worth, or if an older business is restructured to such a degree that a new commercial enterprise results. In addition to individual business enterprises, EB-5 visa applicants can also invest in EB-5 Regional Centers. Regional centers administer EB-5 projects. It may be more advantageous for an investor to invest in a regional center-run project because the investor will not have to independently set up the EB-5 projects.
- $1 million capital investment, $500,000 in a TEA
- The investment must be made in a for-profit U.S. commercial entity
- The investment must create 10 full-time U.S. jobs for two years