Temporary Work Visas

Most temporary work visa cases are employer sponsored, meaning the foreign worker should have a U.S. employer who wishes to sponsor the person as their employee for a limited period of time. Many categories of temporary work visas are classified according to the foreign national’s profession, occupation, or field of research.

Some temporary work visa categories include:

H-1B Visa for Specialty Occupations

H-1B visas are for employment opportunities where the entry requirement is a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field. The U.S. employer must file a petition on the prospective worker’s behalf, and must pay all of the legal and filing fees associated with obtaining H-1B visa status.

The number of new H-1B visas granted each year is “capped” by Congress. Currently, H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 per Federal fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for applicants with a master’s degree or higher (there are also additional cap exemptions for special situations). Each Federal fiscal year begins on October 1, and since H-1B petitions may be filed a maximum of six months in advance the earliest possible filing date each year is April 1st, for H-1B visa status to take effect on October 1st of the same year.

Since the number of new H-1Bs available each year is so limited, in practice this means that the “cap season” is the three months leading up to April 1st, as petitions must be filed as early as possible to have a chance of being considered for approval.

There are certain exemptions to the H-1B cap based on a nonprofit employer’s affiliation with a university or institution of higher education. Our office has developed expertise in the analysis of possible cap exemption for certain employers. In addition, numerical limits are eased for H-1B applicants from Chile and Singapore based on U.S. treaties with those countries.

Many H-1B applicants begin their stay in the U.S. as F-1 foreign students who may be employed off-campus in jobs related to their major course of study, either:

  • On a part-time basis while still enrolled as a student;
  • Under Curricular Practical Training (CPT); or
  • On a full time basis upon graduation and with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) under Optional Post-Completion Practical Training (OPT).

Foreign student advisors generally coordinate applications for on-campus employment or practical training. Our office advises employers and graduating students on the timing and conditions of student employment, and the transition to H-1B status.

TN and E-3 Visas

TN and E-3 visas are similar to H-1B visas in that they are granted only for certain specialized occupations and require pre-arranged employment. However, they differ in that TN visas are only available to citizens of Canada or Mexico, and E-3 visas are only for citizens of Australia, and are based on trade agreements with those countries. These visas do not require a petition process with USCIS. Instead, the foreign national may present all required documentation at an American Consulate, or at a U.S. Port of Entry in the case of Canadians.

L-1 Visa for Intra-Company Transferee

These work visas are appropriate for a multinational company who wishes to transfer an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge, from outside the U.S. to a related entity in the U.S., or under special circumstances, to establish a new office in the United States. Employers must file a petition with USCIS for this visa category.

O-1 Visas

These are achievement-based nonimmigrant visas for those with “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, business or athletics. A petition must be filed with USCIS by a U.S. employer or agent who must provide a detailed itinerary of where work will be performed during the visa validity period. In the case of arts and athletics, the individual may demonstrate “distinction” above the ordinary. For the sciences and business, the applicant must show national or international recognition in their field. Case analysis regarding the type and quality of evidence is essential. A “consultation letter” or equivalent statement of support from a U.S. peer group or organization in the field must accompany the petition.

E-2 Visas

Foreign investors from certain countries that have treaties with the U.S. may qualify for an E-2 visa. The investor must develop and direct the enterprise, which must be:

  • Substantial;
  • Made with the investor’s own funds;
  • Involve at least a 50% ownership of the enterprise, or a showing of operational control.

Expert legal advice is essential for identifying the best evidence to prove that the investor’s funds have been placed at risk, the types of investments that will result in a successful visa application, and the timing and presentation of applications for the investor’s family members.

Other Related Services

In addition to the above-mentioned categories, our office can also assist with the following:

  • Change of status from B-2 visitor, F-1 student, J-1 trainee or other to H-1B, TN, L-1, or O-1, etc. or consular processing of any of these nonimmigrant visa categories
  • Change of employer within the same nonimmigrant visa category
  • Application for extension of B-1/B-2 visa status (*Please note this category does not allow employment or earning any income from a U.S. entity.)
  • B-1 in lieu of H-1B
  • J-1 Visa Waivers for Physicians under the Conrad 30 program
  • Analysis of OPT STEM extension options for F-1 student visa holders
  • J-1 Trainee visa options