H1-B visa classification is designed for foreign nationals who have a valid offer of employment from a U.S. company in a specialty occupation, for example, scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. H1-B visa holders can enter the U.S. and work for their employer for a temporary period of no more than six years. H1-B visas are issued in the increments up to three years and have to be renewed after that.
There is an annual cap on the amount of H1-B visas every fiscal year. It is currently 65,000 visas, plus 20,000 visas for advanced degree exemptions (a U.S. master’s degree or higher). The U.S. government’s fiscal year starts on October 1. H-1B petitions can be filed starting April 1. The cap for H1-B petitions for 2014 was reached within the first week of the filing period starting April 1, 2013.
• A valid employer-employee relationship between you and the petitioning U.S. company. Such relationship is possible even if you own the petitioning U.S. company, but only if control of your work is exercised by others.
• You must have a Bachelor’s or higher degree in a specialized field and such degree is related to and required for the position.
• You must be paid at least the prevailing wage for your occupation and geographical area where you will be employed. The prevailing wage database is maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor and can be accessed here. (insert link http://www.flcdatacenter.com/OesWizardStart.aspx)
• Employer must file a Labor Conditions Application with the U.S. Department of Labor and have it certified.
L-1 Visas are appropriate for certain intracompany transferees. Specifically, a U.S. company can temporarily transfer a manager/executive or an employee with specialized knowledge from a properly affiliated foreign company to one of its offices in the United States. A foreign company can also transfer its manager or executive to establish an office in the United States. The employer must file a petition to the USCIS of behalf of the employee.
The employee arriving in the U.S. to establish a new office is allowed to stay for an initial period of one year. All other employees are allowed to stay for an initial period of three years and can extend their status for seven years total.
• The employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate).
• The employer must be or will be doing business both in the United States and abroad for the entire duration of the employee’s stay in the United States.
• The employee must have been employed by the foreign company for at least a year within the three year period preceding his/her admission to the United States.
• The employee must have a managerial or executive position at the company or, alternatively, possess specialized knowledge of the company’s product, services or procedures.
E-2 visa allows nationals of countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States to come to the United States to invest a substantial amount of capital into a U.S. business. Certain employees of such persons or qualifying organizations may also be eligible for E-1 visa.
Treaty investors may enter the United States for an initial period of two years. Unlimited extensions of stay are permitted under this visa classification in increments of up to two years each.
• You must be a national of a country that has a treaty with the United States. A list of these countries may be obtained here. (insert link http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/treaty.html)
• You must invest a substantial amount of capital into a bona fide U.S. enterprise. The investment must be at risk with an objective of generating a profit.
• You must have at least 50% ownership of the U.S. enterprise or possess operational control over the enterprise through a managerial position or other type of corporate arrangement.