Business immigration is essential for growing the United States economy, just as immigration is important for so many companies to grow their businesses. Employers and foreign workers, however, face complex legal requirements that can be time-consuming, confusing, and expensive.
World One Law Group solves business immigration issues with lawyers based in Washington State but able to advise companies all over the world. We help employers and foreign workers fulfill their goals to work and grow companies in the United States. Each client is treated with the utmost respect and responsiveness to their issue. Contact us at 425-250-8110 today to schedule a one hour consultation and to learn more about our business immigration services.
What is Business Immigration?
Business immigration is the visa framework allowing noncitizens who meet certain eligibility criteria to enter the United States to work on a temporary or permanent basis.
There is a range of business immigration visas available, many of which require a job offer from a U.S. employer or sponsor.
Business immigration visas can be nonimmigrant (i.e., temporary) or immigrant (i.e., permanent). Nonimmigrant visas allow a person to travel to the United States for a fixed period to obtain valuable experience and assist U.S. businesses or organizations. These nonimmigrant visas can be obtained for different purposes, including sports, entertainment or the arts, international cultural exchanges, and religious purposes. Immigrant visas, on the other hand, allow individuals to obtain a green card, providing a potential pathway to eventual citizenship.
Spouses and children of business visa holders can also obtain visas to live in the United States.
While the specific process and requirements for each visa are different, petitions are processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Common Types of Nonimmigrant Work Visas in Washington
Each business visa category has specific eligibility criteria, so it's important to check whether you meet these before applying. Here are some examples of nonimmigrant visa categories.
H-1B Visa Application
One of the most popular nonimmigrant visa categories, H-1B visa is for specialty occupations, meaning that the position generally requires at least a bachelor's degree in a specialized field. The H1B visa may be used for positions such as:
- Civil Engineers
- Database Communication and Network Administrators
- Graphic Designers
- Software Engineers
- Systems Analysts and Programmers
- University Professors
An initial H1B visa is for a three-year period. The H1B visa can be extended up to a maximum of six years. Longer stays beyond six years are possible if you've made an application for permanent residency before your 5 year anniversary in H1B.
This visa requires an offer of employment from a U.S. company or organization. The job position must also meet specific criteria which typically include a bachelor's degree.
The number of H-1B visas is capped, with only a limited number of visas available each year. The demand for this visa type quickly outpaces availability.
L-1 Visa Application
The L-1 visa is for multinational companies to transfer managers and executives (L1A visa) or employees with specialized knowledge (L1B visa). The L-1 visa allows international companies to transfer qualified employees to an existing U.S. office or bring them to the United States to establish a U.S. affiliate company.
Generally, an L-1 visa may be granted initially for three years. If they are setting up a new U.S. office, the initial period of an L-1 visa is one year. L-1 visas can be extended in two year increments up to a maximum of seven years for L1A multinational managers & executives, or five years for L1B specialized knowledge employees.
O-1 Visa Application
Another nonimmigrant visa, the O-1 allows individuals with extraordinary ability to work in the United States in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or motion picture or television industry. You have to demonstrate that you are one of the few people at the top of your field to qualify.
The O1 visa requires an offer of employment from a U.S. employer. The O1 visa holder may stay for an initial period of three years. The stay can be extended in one year increments.
TN Visa Application
The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa for certain qualified professionals from Canada and Mexico. This visa was created in the NAFTA agreement and modified in the Canada-Mexico-United States agreement. The position must be in an occupation listed in that treaty, which included lawyers, accountants, engineers, scientists, and teachers. The TN visa requires a job offer from a U.S. employer and allows an individual to live and work in the United States for an initial period of three years. The TN visa can be renewed in three year increments indefinitely.
Employment-Based Permanent Visas
Employment-based (EB) immigrant visas are also known as green cards. These visas may be obtained through employment with an American company. These visas are based on the preference system, which is the method used to distribute the limited number of immigrant visa numbers each year. EB visas are broken into five preferences: EB-1 through EB-5.
EB-1 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa category for individuals with an extraordinary ability in their area of expertise. There are three categories:
- Extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics;
- Outstanding professors and researchers in a particular academic field; and
- Certain multinational managers or executives.
These are first-preference visas with each occupational category requiring you to satisfy certain general criteria as well as criteria specific to each of the above three categories.
EB-2 visa is a second preference employment-based visa for advanced degree or exceptional ability. As such, these visas usually go to graduates with advanced degrees or foreign nationals with exceptional ability in their area of specialization.
A unique aspect of this visa is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW). The NIW does not require PERM or Labor Certification. It is essentially a fast-track application for foreign nationals who prove their specialty is of national interest to the United States.
EB-3 visa is a third preference employment-based green card that applies to:
- Skilled individuals, meaning they have two years of training, experience, or job education;
- Professionals, meaning they have at a minimum and at least the equivalent of a Baccalaureate degree; and
- Other workers, who may be skilled or unskilled and who may have training or experience (sometimes that training or experience could be less than two years), excluding temporary and seasonal jobs
This preference is less stringent than EB-1 and EB-2, but that results in longer wait periods. Employers must also complete the PERM Labor Certification process.
EB-4 visa is a fourth preference employment-based green card. This is a catch-all category to include workers, like religious leaders and non-citizen U.S. Foreign Service workers, who do not fall under any of the other preference groups.
EB-5 visa allows investors to permanently live and work in the United States. To be eligible, you must invest a certain amount in a U.S.-based commercial enterprise and demonstrate that you will create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
Permanent Labor Certification (PERM)
For many types of employment-based permanent residency applications, a foreign national may need to first get permanent labor certification.
Under the Permanent Electronic Review Management (PERM) system, an employer must seek permission via a permanent labor certification application from the Department of Labor to hire a foreign worker. This confirms that:
- There are no U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, or available to do the job; and
- Hiring a foreign worker will not negatively impact the wages or conditions of U.S. workers in similar roles.
An employer must do this before submitting a petition to USCIS on behalf of a foreign worker.
Common Challenges to Business Immigration
While many dream of immigrating to the United States to live and work, the business immigration system presents several challenges.
Restrictive Immigration Quotas
Most business visa categories are strictly capped and demand often outweighs availability.
High Barriers to Entry
The visa process itself can be expensive, while some visas, such as an investment visa, require significant amounts of capital. Employers' obligations under business immigration visas are onerous and not all businesses have the resources to support them.
Highly Complex Processes
Like most immigration laws, the business immigration visa system is complex. There are strict eligibility criteria to meet and navigating the system can be a challenging and lengthy process.
How Can a Business Immigration Attorney in Washington Help Your Company?
At World One Law Group, our business immigration attorney helps businesses and organizations meet their goals through our immigration services. As you may know, business immigration is a lengthy, complex process. We do the immigration work for you, ensuring that the workers you need are the ones you get, and that the required research, paperwork, and follow-up are timely and properly completed. At a minimum, we provide:
- Advice on the best business visa for your purpose
- Help with employment eligibility documentation
- Guidance during unannounced visa petition immigration audits
- Guidance with the image program and e-verification system
- Due diligence and care
There's much more we can do, too, for business immigration, family immigration, and more. The most important thing we offer is integrity and thoroughness during the immigration process.
Contact a United States Business Immigration Lawyer Today
Immigration is a way for many organizations and companies to grow their business. It's also a great way for foreign nationals to gain valuable experience and to develop their skills and careers. At World One Law Group, we are excited to help you through the process. Our business immigration attorney based in King County will represent your interests in the immigration process. If you want smart advice and confidence in the process, contact us today by either filling out our online form or calling us at 425-250-8110 to schedule a one hour consultation.