non-immigrant visas

Nonimmigrant Visas

permanent resident immigration visa

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant Visas

There are numerous categories of nonimmigrant visas for foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to work temporarily. Below, you can find brief descriptions of temporary work visa optionsContact us to help you decide which visa, if any, is right for you or for your foreign-born employee.

The Law Office of Kelly Wachs specializes in the following categories of employment-based nonimmigrant visas:

  • H-1B: Professionals, Specialists, Fashion Models
  • L-1: International Employee Transfers
  • O-1: Scientists, Educators, Businesspeople, or Athletes
  • P: Athletes, Athletic Teams, Support Personnel
  • E-1/E-2: Treaty Trade and Treaty Investor
  • TN: Mexican and Canadian Professionals and Specialists
  • E-3: Australian Professionals and Specialists
  • Q-1: Cultural Exchange
  • I: Representatives of Foreign Media
  • R-1: Religious Workers
  • F and M: Academic and Vocational Students
  • J: Educational and Cultural Exchange Visitors

H-1B Visas

The H-1B visa is for professional and specialty workers, Department of Defense project workers, fashion models, and nationals from Chile and Singapore in professional and specialty occupations. Applicants must have offers of employment in the U.S. Prospective specialty occupation and distinguished fashion model employers must complete a certification of a Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor.

H-1B nonimmigrants may be admitted for a period of up to three years, generally with the possible extension to a total of six years, or more if they are seeking permanent residence. H-1B1 visas for professionals from Chile and Singapore are generally granted in one-year increments, which may be extended.

H-1B Cap: The H-1B visa has an annual limit or “cap” of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. There are an additional 20,000 visas set aside for those with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.  H-1B workers at higher education institutions, related nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations, or government research organizations are generally exempt from the cap.

The H-1B filing period begins April 1 for the following fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, and the cap is typically reached very soon thereafter. Timely filing of a complete and correct petition is extremely important when seeking an H-1B visa. The government uses a computer-generated lottery to distribute the visas once the cap is reached.

H-1B visa for entrepreneurs and skilled professionals: Normally an H-1B applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. company, but it is sometimes possible for a business founder or a professional (such a lawyer, physician, architects, or engineer) to petition as a U.S. Company formed and owned by the visa beneficiary (self-sponsorship). Contact us if you would like to file an application for a self-sponsored H-1B visa.

H-1B Visa: Professional or Specialty Occupations

This visa is for people in professional occupations or specialty occupations, commonly requiring a degree or being so complex or unique that they can be performed only by an individual with a degree. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher degree (or equivalent), plus hold any applicable unrestricted licenses, registrations, or certifications. A certified Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor is required.

H-1B1 Visa: Nationals of Chile and Singapore in Professional or Specialty Occupations

The H-1B1 program provides for the temporary employment of nonimmigrant aliens in specialty occupations from Chile and Singapore, limited to 1,400 nationals of Chile and 5,400 nationals of Singapore. The H-1B1 program is governed by many of the rules that apply to the H-1B program. The period of employment is one year. Extensions may be obtained twice but only in one year increments. Further extensions can be obtained only with the filing of a new Labor Condition Application.

H-1B2 Visa: Specialty Occupations, Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers

This visa is for people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation or services relating to a Department of Defense cooperative research and development project. Qualifying projects must be provided for under a government-to-government agreement administered by the U.S. Department of Defense.  Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher degree (or equivalent), plus hold any applicable unrestricted licenses, registrations, or certifications.

H-1B3 Visa: Fashion Models

This visa category applies to people who provide services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability. The position must require a fashion model of prominence, distinguished merit, and ability. Labor Condition Application is required.

L-1 Visas

L-1 visas allow international companies to transfer a foreign manager, executive, or a “specialized knowledge” employee from one of its foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States, or enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to establish one.

The L-1 visa applicant must have been employed by a foreign business entity, working abroad for at least one continuous year within the past 3 years. L-1 visas for those who will manage a new office for the overseas employer provide for an initial maximum stay of one year, subject to extension based upon proof of the success of the initial start-up efforts. L-1 visas for positions with an established U.S. office can be initially granted for up to three years, with the possibility of two additional extensions of two years each for an “executive” or “manager” (L-1A status), or just one additional two year extension for L-1B “specialized knowledge” personnel.

L-1A: Intracompany 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 the United States.

L-1B: Intracompany 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 the United States.

O Visas

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. Applicants must provide evidence that they have received a major, internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize, Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, or Director’s Guild Award, or provide comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.

O-1A Visa: Scientists, Educators, Businesspeople, Athletes

This visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.

O-1B Visa: Motion Picture and Television Industry

This visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.

O-2 Visa: Support Personnel

This visa is for individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A and an O-1B in the arts, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the performance. For an O-1B in motion pictures or television, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the production. The O-2 worker must have 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 Visa: Spouse and Children

This visa is for individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s.

P Visas

The P nonimmigrant visa is for athletes, athletic teams, and their support personnel; performers and performing groups; and cultural artists or entertainers coming to the U.S. to perform or teach.

P-1 Visa: Athletes, Athletic Teams, Support Personnel

The P-1 visa is for athletes and teams coming to the U.S. to perform at a specific athletic competition, at an internationally recognized level of performance. Applicants must be internationally recognized with a high level of achievement, renowned, leading, or well known in more than one country.

For individuals, visas are granted for the time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance, for a up to 5 years with extensions for up to a maximum of 10 years. For teams, visas are granted for the time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance, up to 1 year with extensions of up to 1 year.

The P-1 visa is also for Essential Support Personnel such as coaches, scouts, trainers and other team officials and referees.
 These visas are granted for the time needed to complete the event, competition, or performance, for a up to 1 year, with extensions for up to a maximum of 10 years.

P-2 Visa: Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program

The P-2 visa is for artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country

P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program

The P-3 is for artists or entertainers coming temporarily to perform, teach, or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique. In addition, you must be coming to the United States to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of your art form.

P-4 Visa

This visa is for the spouse and unmarried children of P visa holders, who may attend school or college but not engage in employment.

E-1/E-2 Visas

E-1/E-2 or Treaty Trade/Treaty Investor visas allow foreign-born entrepreneurs to establish companies that they wish to operate in the U.S. The E visas are limited by a treaty to only specific nationalities. In the case of countries with treaties allowing for both types of E visas, the decision as to which visa to apply for becomes a business decision. The E visa is typically granted for 2 years, depending on the specific treaty. If the business is a success, extensions are for 5 years at a time, and can be renewed indefinitely. Spouses and dependent children of E visa holders attend school in the United States, and can also apply to work.

E-1 Visa: Treaty Trade

The E-1 visa is for those who trade goods or services with the United States, providing an option for an individual to travel to the United States to carry on trade between his or her country and the United States. The visa holder must own at least 50% of a business that conducts a substantial flow of trade between the U.S. and the visa holder’s home country.

E-2 Visa: Treaty Investor

The E-2 is for those who wish to establish a business in the United States, allowing individuals who qualify as “treaty investors” to travel to the United States. The visa holder must own at least 50% of a business in which a significant amount of capital has been invested or is in the process of being invested, and reside in the United States for the purposes of developing and directing the operations of this business. Executive, supervisory, and specialized knowledge employees of E companies who share the same nationality as the owners may also qualify for E-2 status, however moving from an E visa to a Green Card is often more tricky than moving from the L-1 to a Green Card. Please contact us to determine the best choice for you.

TN Visas

The TN nonimmigrant visa permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to engage in professional-level business activities in the U.S. The initial stay is three years, which can be extended. The spouse and dependent children of TN visa holders may be eligible for TD nonimmigrant status, and may study in the U.S. but may not work.

TN Visa: Mexican and Canadian Nationals for Professional or Specialty Occupations

This visa is for Mexican and Canadian nationals in professional occupations or specialty occupations, such as accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. Applicants must have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer, and the position must require a NAFTA professional.

Mexican citizens are required to apply for a visa to enter the United States at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. Once approved for a TN visa, Mexican nationals may apply for admission at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.

Canadian citizens are generally eligible for admission as nonimmigrants without a visa, and are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. Canadians may instead present required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.

E-3 Visas

The E-3 nonimmigrant visa permits qualified Australian citizens to engage in professional-level business activities in the U.S. Spouses of E-3 visa holders may work in the United States without restrictions, and the E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely (in two-year increments). A certified Labor Condition Application from the Deptarement of Labor is required.

E-3 Visa: Australians for Professional or Specialty Occupations

The E-3 visa is similar to the H-1B visa, the professional specialty occupation temporary nonimmigrant visa.

Q-1 Visas

The Q-1 visa is for people who want to participate in a cultural exchange program in the United States. The Q nonimmigrant exchange program is for the purpose of providing practical training and employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of your home country with the United States. The Q visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS.

Q-1 Visa: Cultural Exchange

The applicant for a Q-1 visa must be participating in an international cultural exchange program designated by USCIS. Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs are allowed to petition for Q nonimmigrants. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of your country. Q exchange visitors are paid by their employing sponsor at the same rate paid to local domestic workers similarly employed.

I Visas

The I visa is for representatives of a foreign information media outlet (press, radio, film, or other foreign information media) who are coming to the U.S. to work in this profession. A spouse and dependent children may accompany or follow to join an I nonimmigrant and my study in the United States, but are not eligible to work.

I visa: Representatives of Foreign Media

I visa applicants work for a foreign media outlet that have a home office in a foreign country and are in the U.S. to work as reporters, film crews, editors, and similar occupations. Applicants must demonstrate that they are a bona fide representative of foreign media whose activities are essential to the functions of their organization. There is no specific term for the visa, as long as the visa holder continues working for the same employer in the same information medium.

R-1 Visas

R-1 visas are for foreign nationals coming to the United States temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation in a non-profit religious organization in the U.S.

R-1 Visa: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

R-1 visa holders must be employed full- or part-time by a non-profit religious organization in the United States. This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion. To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.

F and M Visas

F and M visas are for those who wish to enroll full-time in an approved  “academic” educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program in the United States. Applicants must show that they have sufficient funds to support themselves, and must maintain a residence abroad. For both F-1 and M-1 students any off-campus employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorized by the Designated School Official and USCIS.

F-1: Academic Students

The F-1 visa allows a person to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. The program must culminate in a degree, diploma, or certificate and the school must be authorized by the U.S. government. F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept certain on-campus jobs and work off-campus after the first academic year through approved programs.

F-2: Spouses and children of F-1

The spouse and minor children accompanying an F-1 student are eligible for admission in F-2 status. Minor children may attend public schools but F-2 visa-holders may not seek employment.

F-3: Canadian or Mexican national academic commuter students

The F-3 visa allows residents and citizens of Mexico and Canada to enter the United States to attend an approved F school. F-3 visa holders can travel across the border to take classes in the United States. Students with F-3 visas may study on either a part-time or a full-time basis, but family members are not entitled to F-2 status.

M-1: Vocational students

The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training. M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.

M-2: Spouses and children of M1

The spouse and minor children accompanying an M-1 student are eligible for admission in M-2 status. Minor children may attend public schools but M-2 visa-holders may not seek employment.

M-3: Canadian or Mexican national vocational commuter students

The M-3 visa allows residents and citizens of Mexico and Canada to enter the United States to attend an approved F school. M-3 visa holders can travel across the border to take classes in the United States. Students with M-3 visas may study on either a part-time or a full-time basis, but family members are not entitled to M-2 status.

J Visas

The J visa program is for those who wish to participate in an educational or cultural exchange program in the United States, including students, trainees, scholars, teachers, researchers, exchange visitors, and cultural exchange visitors. Participants in the J exchange visitor program must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses, or funds must be provided by the sponsoring organization in the form of a scholarship or other stipend. The J visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the U.S. Department of State, Exchange Visitor Program and Designation Staff.

J-1: Educational and Cultural Exchange Visitors

The J exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs. J exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated program, including knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate non-English speaking participants.

J-2: Spouses and Children of J-1

The spouse and minor children accompanying a J-1 Exchange Visitor are eligible for admission in J-2 status. Minor children may attend public schools but J-2 visa-holders may not seek employment.