Business immigration is integral to the United States economy as much as it is important for so many companies and organizations to grow their businesses. Employers and work visa applicants, however, face complex legal requirements that can be time-consuming, confusing, and problematic.
At Bravo-Bonetti Legal, our business immigration lawyers based in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico offer solutions. We help employers and foreign workers fulfill their goals and ambitions. Each client is treated with the same responsiveness and commitment. Contact us at 512-395-4338 today to schedule a 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
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 both nonimmigrant and immigrant visa categories.
H-1B Visa Application
One of the most popular nonimmigrant visa categories, H-1B is for specialty occupations and includes positions like:
- Civil Engineers
- Database Communication and Network Administrators
- Graphic Designers
- Mechanical Engineers
- Software Engineers
- Systems Analysts and Programmers
- University Professors
An initial H-1B visa is for a three-year period, which can be extended up to a maximum of six years.
This visa requires an offer of employment from a U.S. organization. The role must also meet specific criteria which typically include a bachelor's degree.
The number of H-1B visas is capped. The demand for this visa type quickly outpaces availability.
L-1 Visa Application
The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant business expansion visa. It allows international companies to transfer qualified employees to an existing U.S. office or bring them to the United States to establish one.
To be eligible for an L-1 visa, the applicant must work in a managerial/executive capacity or possess specialized knowledge.
If they are setting up a new U.S. office, the initial period of an L-1 visa is one year, and for a transfer, it is three years. L-1 visas can be extended up to a maximum of seven years.
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.
It requires an offer of employment from a U.S. employer and allows the holder to stay for an initial period of three years.
TN Visa Application
The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa for certain qualified professionals from Canada and Mexico, including lawyers, accountants, scientists, and teachers. It 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.
Employment-Based Permanent Visas
Employment-based (EB) immigration visas are also known as green cards. These visas are obtained through a family member or a proven employment-based need. 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 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 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 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 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.
The EB-5 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)
A precondition of nonimmigrant and some immigrant work visas is permanent labor certification.
Under the Permanent Electronic Review Management (PERM) system, an employer must seek permission via a permanent labor certification from the Department of Labor to hire a foreign worker. This confirms that:
- There are insufficient 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 Help Your Company?
At Bravo-Bonetti Legal, our business immigration attorneys 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 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 our Business Immigration Lawyers in Austin, Denver, and Santa Fe 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 Bravo-Bonetti Legal, we are excited to help you through the process. Our business immigration attorneys based in Austin, Denver, and Santa Fe 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 512-395-4338 to schedule a consultation.