There are many types of immigrant and non-immigrant visas, including work visas, student visas, and marriage visas.
Many types of work visas allow non-citizens to work in the United States. Some allow you to work for a temporary period of time, and others provide a path to permanent residence. Find out if you are eligible for a temporary or permanent work visa.
As a noncitizen, you may work in the US if you have either a temporary work visa or a permanent work visa. You may also work in the US if you are a foreign student, a refugee who has been granted asylum, or a lawful permanent resident.
Temporary work visas, also called non-immigrant work visas, allow you to work in the United States for a specified period of time. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides numerous types of temporary visas, including visas for:
Common types of temporary work visas include H1-B visas, L-1A visas, L-1B visas, and J-1 visas.
Though there are three types of H1-B visas, the H1-B1 visa is the most common. It allows non-citizens with bachelor’s degrees or higher to accept job offers in the United States. If you hold a foreign degree, it must be the equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree or higher. For this type of visa, the job that you wish to pursue must relate to the degree that you have. Your employer must petition for you by filing forms ETA-9035 and I-129.
L-1A non-immigrant visas allow US employers to transfer executives or managers from a foreign office to an employer’s US office. It also allows a foreign company that does not yet have a US office to send an executive or a manager to the United States in order to establish one. L1-B visas enable US employers to transfer employees with specialized skills in a similar manner as L1-A visas. For either visa, the employer must file form I-129 on behalf of the employee.
J-1 visas allow non-citizens to attend approved exchange programs to study education, arts, and science. Exchange visitors may include professors, scholars, research assistants, students, trainees, teachers, specialists, nannies, and camp counselors.
If you would like to work based on a J-1 visa, you must submit form DS-2019 with the Department of State, and your employer or school must sponsor you. If you are granted a J-1 visa, your spouse and children are also allowed to work in the US.
If you wish to immigrate to the US rather than work temporarily, consider applying for a permanent work visa, also called an immigrant work visa. Because the US only approves 140,000 immigrant work visas per year, the 5 types of permanent visas are organized into 5 preference categories.
Eligibility is determined by your education, skills, and goals. An immigration attorney who specializes in employment issues will help you choose which visa to apply for, and can even help you complete and file your application.
The United States has several dozen different types of visas, and processes millions of applications annually. However, most people enter on a small handful of the overall available visa types. Some of the most common include the B1 business visa and the B2 tourist visa (often issued together as a B1/B2), the F-1 student visa, the H-1B specialty occupation visa, the H-4 dependent visa, the J-1 exchange visa, and the K-1 fiancee visa.
Each of these visa types has their own requirements. You can learn more about them in the table below. However, because immigration law is constantly changing, it's always a good idea to consult an immigration lawyer before filing an application.
|Purpose||Length of stay||Application||Key requirements|
Tourism, visits, and business travel.
Up to 6 months.
Complete the online DS-160 application.
1) Evidence that your stay in the United States will be temporary.
Study in an academic or language-training program at a qualifying US college or university.
Until graduation or your last day as a student, plus a 60 day grace period.
Obtain an I-20 from your school, and complete the online DS-160 application.
1) Enrollment in an SEVP-approved school. 2) In an academic or language-training program (vocational programs do not qualify).
Employment in a specialty occupation.
Duration of employment relationship.
Your employer handles the application process.
1) Position in a specialty occupation. 2) Position related to your field of study. 3) Pay at or above the actual or prevailing wage. 4) Valid employment relationship. 5) Available at time of petition.
Family members of an H-1B worker.
Duration of the H-1B visa used as the basis for the H-4 visa.
Complete the online DS-160 application once the H-1B holder has received their I-797 notice of approval.
1) Spouse or child of an H-1, H-2, or H-3 visa holder.
Participation in an exchange visitor program.
Dependent on program. Ranges from 4 months to 7 years, plus a 30 day grace period.
Complete the DS-2019 form provided to you by your program's sponsor.
Varies by program.
Fiancee of a US citizen traveling to the US to marry that citizen.
90 days, during which marriage must occur.
US citizen completes the I-129F petition, then fiancee completes the DS-160 application.
1) US citizen petitioner. 2) Marrying within 90 days of fiancee's entrance. 3) Free to marry. 4) Has met fiancee in person at least once in the 2 years before application (with certain exceptions.)
The E-2 Visa has two main requirements: The applicant must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and/or navigation; and The investment must be substantial. If you are buying an existing business, the investment must be at least half the total value of the company. If you are starting a new business, the investment amount must cover the costs of establishing the business. If you are considering applying for an E-2 visa, here are some tips: Tip 1: Choose your business structure with the help of a business lawyer The business structure you choose for your E-2 business will have a significant impact on taxes and liability protection. It is crucial to consult with an experienced business lawyer who can educate you on the advantages and disadvantages of each of the business structures available and help you choose one. In Florida, the most popular business structures for the E-2 visa are Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and Corporations. The business structure you choose will depend on your unique business needs and goals. A qualified business attorney can help you make an informed decision. Tip 2: Make sure to set up your business entity properly Setting up your business properly is a crucial step in creating any business in the United States. Setting up a business entity in Florida entails much more than merely filing documents. Mistakes at this stage can have severe consequences in the future. Thus, why applicants are generally more comfortable retaining a business immigration attorney for the E-2 visa application process. Tip 3: Invest more than you think you need Although one of the main requirements of the E-2 visa is to invest a substantial amount of capital, the E-2 visa guidelines do not specify how much money applicants should invest. Whether an investment is substantial depends not only on the amount of money but on the business nature too. A clear business nature can make knowing how much to invest highly difficult. If you invest an amount of capital the USCIS does not consider substantial, they will deny your E-2 visa. This is why E-2 visa applicants should consider investing more than they think they will need. Better safe than sorry. Tip 4: Create a highly detailed business plan When you apply for an E-2 visa, very little things are more important than a detailed business plan. This document provides the USCIS with an idea of your business strategies for the future. Your business plan should: Explain what products and services you will offer; Describe your business assets, resources, and expenses; and Provide 5-year projections outlining your plans to increase profit and expand your business. Tip 5: Provide as much evidence of the source of the funds as possible Make sure to provide highly detailed documented evidence showing the legal means through which you obtained the investment funds. The more evidence you provide, the better. This step is crucial, as the USCIS will not approve your E-2 visa unless they are certain the funds you invested came from a legal source, and no criminal activities were involved. Tip 6: Work with an E-2 Visa Lawyer This is probably the most important tip we can give you. No matter what visa category you are after, the help of an immigration attorney who understands the nuances of the application process is the key to a successful application. At Jurado & Farshchian, P.L., no matter what visa you need, we can help you apply for it and teach you how to increase your chances of obtaining it. To learn more about our services, give us a call at (305) 921-0440 or send us an email to [email protected] or via WhatsApp https://wa.me/13059210440 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our immigration experts.
Be a Green Card Holder! The first step is to be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). If you are an LPR, your 3 or 5 year wait time begins the moment your residency begins. If you are a Non-Permanent Resident, you need to first get your Green Card. Most people get a green card either through a family based petition (Spouse, Children, Parents, or Brothers and Sisters) or through a work visa. There are more ways, but these are the most common. Be married to a U.S. Citizen! If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you only need to wait three years, either from the date of marriage (3 years married) or from the date of LPR Status. You will need 3 years in both of these categories. Be Eligible for Citizenship! To become eligible, you must be 18 years old, have at least one and a half years Physical Presence in the United States, Be able to read, write and speak english, Be able to pass the civics and history test, and be a person of Good Moral Character. Not be Ineligible! Some people are ineligible for citizenship based on unpaid or unfixed taxes, unpaid child support, or criminal records.If any of these apply to you, Chances are these issues may be resolved by good attorney. Many times, Attorneys can set you up with payment plans for child support and the IRS and document why certain criminal offenses do not make you ineligible for citizenship. Nobody is perfect, and you don't need to be in order to become a citizen. If you have any of these issues, we highly recommend reaching out to a qualified attorney.
Criteria Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability The U.S. created the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card category in order to attract individuals with talent and ability. Although many of the individuals who use this visa category are in the STEM fields, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the EB-1 category also applies to individuals in the arts. The Extraordinary Ability Green Card can be a great fit for any type of artist, whether their art form is in the fine arts, applied arts, or the performing arts. To qualify for a green card under this category as an artist, you must be at the very top of your particular field. This means that you have received sustained recognition at the international or national level and that other’s in your field recognize you for your artistic achievements. For those who receive a major internationally recognized award, such as the Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Golden Globes, or the Academy Awards, this alone may be used to demonstrate extraordinary ability. Although winning an Oscar would certainly be an extraordinary achievement, it is not the only way to show immigration officials that you are an artist with extraordinary abilities. There are ten (10) other criteria of which three (3) must be shown in order to qualify for the Extraordinary Ability Green Card. While the requirements may appear tailored to researches and academics rather than artists, with some skillful and creative argument artists can also explain how a particular artistic achievement fulfills the required criteria. Self-Petition for an EB-1(A) Green Card Individuals don't need an offer of employment to apply for the Extraordinary Ability Green Card. Individuals can submit an application on their own behalf and explain how they qualify for at least three (3) of the ten (10) criteria.
USCIS Policy USCIS issued a policy memo that went into effect on December 10, 2018, which provides guidance to USCIS officers on waiving the interview requirement for filing I-751 Petitions. Individuals who obtain status through marriage, in certain circumstances, receive a conditional Green Card for two years. The conditions must be removed in order to maintain valid legal status. The I-751 is an application to remove the conditions on a Green Card and if approved the individual would receive a regular 10 year Green Card. The new policy applies to all I-751 petitions received by USCIS on or after December 10, 2018. The policy is more expansive than the previous policy, which required interviews only when there was insufficient evidence of the bona fides of the marriage, and/or in waiver cases, there was inconclusive evidence to establish eligibility for a waiver. Additionally, the prior policy encouraged use of Requests for Evidence (RFE) to obtain additional information in lieu of transferring the petition to the local USCIS office for an in-person interview. What Does This Mean? For those who received their visa at a U.S. consulate overseas or entered the United States as a K visa holder and were never interviewed by USCIS will be required to attend an in-person interview, even if they are able to establish, through initial evidence, that the marriage is bona fide. This applies to individuals who file jointly with their spouse and to those who file individually and need a waiver because of divorce, death of the spouse, or other qualifying reasons. This new guidance suggests that more I-751 petitions will be transferred to local USCIS offices and scheduled for an in-person interview. The processing times for I-751 petitions are already facing substantial processing delays and have increased from an average of 12 months to 18 months. The increase in interviews is likely to cause significant delays in obtaining a final decision on the I-751 petition.
Defining “Substantial” As stated earlier, there is no minimum investment amount that will qualify for the E-2 Visa. Instead, whether an investment qualifies is determined on a case-by-case basis, as every business is different and, therefore, every business has different needs. Whether an amount is sufficient depends on: 1. The type of business the applicant will be running, and 2. The cost of turning the E-2 business into an operational enterprise. When it comes to the E-2 Visa investment requirement, the word “substantial” comes up very often. The U.S. government uses an elaborate series of tests to determine whether an E-2 investment is “substantial.” If you are planning to start a new business from scratch in the United States, your E-2 investment must be sufficient to ensure your business can operate successfully. For your investment to be sufficient entails that your E-2 investment must cover all costs of establishing the market and begin operations within a reasonable timeframe. On the other hand, if you are planning to purchase an existing business, if you purchase fair market value, your investment is likely to be considered substantial. However, the nature of the company remains an essential factor that the USCIS will take into account. The Problem with Low Start-up Amounts Some businesses require lower investment amounts. However, when it comes to the E-2 Visa, low startup expenses can hurt your chances of approval because only actual expenses of the E-2 business will count towards the investment. While a shoestring budget can be great for many startup founders, it probably will not be enough if you are a foreign investor looking to obtain an E-2 visa. The smaller the investment, the harder it is to prove it will be enough to ensure the E-2 business becomes operational and hires U.S. workers. The more significant the investment, the higher your chances of obtaining your E-2 Visa. This is why it is often a good idea to: 1. Get employees and co-founders on board early; 2. Prepay your lease and your suppliers; and 3. Include intellectual property assets when calculating the E-2 investment amount. The U.S. Government Will Ultimately Decide How Much is Sufficient Consular officers and the USCIS generally have much flexibility when it comes to approving or denying E-2 Visas. Typically, some consulates are more stringent than others when it comes to deciding whether an E-2 investment is substantial. While some investors have been granted E-2 Visas after investing only $25,000 into their E-2 businesses, the U.S. government will ultimately determine whether your investment qualifies. However, this should not discourage you. There are some things you can do to improve your chances of meeting the E-2 Visa investment requirement. The first step you need to take is to hire an experienced immigration attorney to help you prepare your E-2 Visa application. Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. can help you. Give us a call today at (305) 921-0440 or send us an email to [email protected] or via WhatsApp https://wa.me/13059210440 to learn more about our services and schedule an initial consultation with one of our E-2 Visa experts.
How to Stay Out of Marginal Territory To prove that you are not investing in a marginal business, you need to set forth precise projections regarding the number of U.S. workers your E-2 enterprise will be hiring within five years after it becomes operational. If you are starting a new business from scratch, this determination will typically be somewhat speculative. Thus, why hiring some U.S. workers immediately upon securing your E-2 Visa is a step in the right direction, as it bolsters to the credibility of your 5-year business projections. To prove that your E-2 investment will not be marginal it is vital to show the USCIS that you will run your E-2 business at such a scale that there is simply no way it can operate successfully without a workforce. Another relevant factor is the capacity to make a significant contribution to the economy of the United States. The USCIS will measure this economic contribution by looking at the projected return on the E-2 investment. When it comes to staying out of the marginal territory, having a comprehensive business plan is key. The business plan you include in your application should contain detailed information about the number of U.S. workers you will be hiring on a year-by-year basis, as well as profit and loss projections and business growth strategies for the next five years. Your goal here is to show the USCIS that your E-2 business will grow over the long run, and you must include your strategies to make this growth happen. To obtain the E-2 Visa, showing that your business has the potential to grow tells the USCIS it will generate enough money to hire more U.S. workers in the future and, therefore, have a positive impact on the economy of the United States. In addition, having other sources of income or a substantial amount of money in a savings account is a good idea. Such sources of income in savings accounts help establish that you will not be relying entirely on the E-2 business to support yourself and your family. U.S. Workers vs. Economic Contribution Often, demonstrating that your E-2 business will create a significant number of jobs for U.S. workers is enough to fulfill the marginality requirement of the E-2 Visa. However, other times, hiring a large pool of U.S. workers may not be necessary if you can show that your E-2 business will make a significant contribution to the economy of the United States. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) clearly states that substantial evidence on one of these two factors will suffice. Work with an E-2 Visa Attorney Marginality is subjective, which makes it hard to understand what it actually takes to fulfill this requirement. The help of an Immigration Attorney can maximize your chances of obtaining your E-2 Visa through a smooth application process. Hiring a lawyer is not a requirement – it is a necessity. Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. can help you. Give us a call today at (305) 921-0440 or send us an email to [email protected] or via WhatsApp https://wa.me/13059210440 to learn more about our services and schedule an initial consultation with one of our E-2 Visa experts.