It is important to obtain information about the proposed employment, the ownership and nature of the employer's business, the complexity of the duties involved, the job's minimum educational and experience requirements, and the qualifications of the chef him or herself. Ask questions such as whether the position is temporary or permanent, what are the terms and conditions of the employment, will the job involve sharing uniquely cultural culinary information or techniques with the public?
Identify possible nonimmigrant visa categories
Explore eligibility for working temporarily as a chef in one of the following: H-1B (specialty occupation); Q-1 (cultural exchange); O-1 (chef of extraordinary ability); E-2 (treaty investor for key employees sharing nationality of the company); or H-3 (trainee).
Identify possible immigrant visa categories
If a permanent position, consider the EB-3 category for skilled workers; the EB-1 category for aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts; the EB-2 category for aliens of exceptional ability. Check to see visa availability in each of these categories, since some may be unavailable or backlogged for up to several years. Also determine if the prospective employee can immigrate in a family based visa category or if any of his or her parents were U.S. citizens from which he or she may have acquired U.S. citizenship.
Apply for the appropriate visa
Most of the nonimmigrant visa categories mentioned above require advance processing of visa petitions filed with the U.S. CItizenship and Immigration Services. An exception is the E-2 category, for which a visa application is submitted directly to the U.S. embassy or consulate. The permanent EB-2 and EB-3 categories require an employer to test the labor market and demonstrate a shortage of qualified, willing, able or available U.S. workers. This is done through the PERM labor certification process. The EB-1 category on the other hand does not require a PERM to be filed. So, for chefs of extraordinary ability, it is advantageous to file an I-140 petition and substantial supporting documentation with the USCIS.
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