Immigration To The USA: Visa Options For Foreigners

Immigration To The USA: Visa Options For Foreigners

All foreign individuals seeking to enter the United States must receive the right visa to be granted legal entry upon arrival in the country. Broadly speaking, visa options for foreigners fall into 2 categories: non-immigrant and immigrant programs. There are 3 gateways that allow foreigners to enter the USA: Work, Business, and Immigration Visas. In order to obtain any one of these visa categories, an applicant must meet a set of requirements, for example, a foreign investor’s entity must be duly incorporated and validly existing in the USA, hold an IRS registration, and keep a US bank account. Let’s take a close look at these options available for those who want to immigrate to the US.

Immigration Visas

As a leader in the global economy, the USA is well aware of the attractiveness of its market for international investments. This is why the American government creates a favorable business climate for entrepreneurs seeking to invest. Immigrant visas to the US allow foreigners to enter the US for the purpose to reside and work without restrictions existing for holders of non-immigrant visas. This category includes the following visas: EB-1A/B, EB-1C, EB-2 and EB-3, and EB-5.

EB-1A/B Visas

EB-1A visa

EB-1A visa is appointed for persons with an outstanding reputation in art, education, commercial activity, sport, and science. The period for the procession of a petition is short comprising, in general, 15 working days. To initiate the application process for this category’s visa, a candidate must provide an I-140 form. Simultaneously, a petition for a Green Card may be filled, thus substantially reducing the amount of time for achievement of the US residency status. The more recognized applicant is; the less documentation is needed. For example, the Nobel Prize Laureate will find it easier to become a visa holder than lesser-known individuals with comparable expertise and talent.

The main precondition of issuing an EB-1A visa is a broad acknowledgment of the remarkable abilities of an applicant. He or she is obliged to confirm evidence at least 3 of the criteria (included are recipiency of rewards, being is a representative of associations that claim prominent achievements for entry, reputable organization memberships, recognition in a petitioner’s field, high remuneration, being an assessor of other’s works, publications, major achievements, participation in exhibitions, commercial success, etc.).

EB-1B visa

Classic EB-1B recipients are globally renowned professors and investigators with over 3-year internationally recognized experience. To become a visa holder, a candidate must have a job invitation from a sponsoring US employer who will file a petition on his/her behalf. It is necessary to prove that an investigator or professor is actively quoted and published in the field of his/her competence.

For EB-1B, a candidate needs to meet at least 2 of 6 requirements.

  • Evidence of recipiency of national and international rewards;
  • Participation in reputable organizations;
  • Printed material that is written about an applicant’s work by others in a renowned edition;
  • Involvement as an assessor of works of others in the certain field of competence;
  • Prominent investigation achievements;
  • Academic authorship of scholarly books or articles.

The time for a procession is normally 6 months or 15 days for an additional fee.

EB-1C Visa

The owners of highly profitable businesses have an opportunity to expand their market share in America and relocate to the USA on the EB-1C Visa. This is a sought-after alternative to the L-1 Visa. It is issued to employees in leading positions of large companies who are moved to work at a US subsidiary. This is only a work visa. The applicant’s company must own over 50% of the subsidiary company assets.

EB-2 Visa

Individuals with master’s or doctoral degrees or renowned achievements in the sciences, arts, or commercial activity satisfy the conditions of recipiency of an EB-2 visa. They must have an undergraduate degree and at least 5 years of continuous involvement in the field, or remarkable skills and talents in the field of sciences, arts, or commercial activity. Evidence requires at least 3 of 7 USCIS criteria (included are documents about an academic career, licenses, letters documenting the experience, professional organization memberships, recognition in a petitioner’s field, high remuneration, etc.).

Along with a master’s or doctor’s degree and remarkable skills, there is a third EB-2 visa subcategory: people who represent a national interest to the US (NIW). Opposite to the other EB-2 visa categories, these petitioners do not need an offer to be employed or a Labor Certification.

The family of a petitioner may be given E-21 and E-22 visas. While the process of receiving a Green Card is occurring, the husband or wife may petition for a USCIS identification card, which gives an official permit to him/her to operate within the territory of the US.

EB-3 Visa

Those individuals (employees of different skill levels) who do not fall under other employment-based classifications, can get an EB-3 visa. This classification allows immigrating to the US with the purpose of operating on a regular basis for a US proprietor. Based on the certain EB-3 visa category, there are unrelated criteria to be met:

  • Experienced specialists should possess an undergraduate degree;
  • Professionals should possess at least 2 years of training or work involvement;
  • Unskilled workers should have some experience of up to 2 years in order to become proficient. They must carry out activities for which no qualified US workers are available.

In most cases, EB-3 suggests sponsorship of an applicant’s future employer. The family of an applicant may apply for E-34/EW-4 and E-35/EW-5 visas.

EB-5 Visa

This is a great solution for big immigrant investors that allows getting permanent resident status through investment. This program was initiated in 1990 by Congress. Only about 10,000 visas are issued per year in the EB-5 category.

In order to become an EB-5 Visa holder, the business foreigner should follow the set of requirements as follows:

  • The contribution of capital shall be done in one of the forthcoming ways: starting the company in the USA or investing through 3rd-party firms or special agencies. If the contribution is done in a high unemployment area (HUA), the number of finances should not be lesser than $900,000. For other areas, this amount is $1,800,000. It should be noted that HUAs can be found in densely populated cities across America such as Los Angeles or New York.
  • The new establishment should form at least ten new full-time positions for American residents.
  • The funds should be proved that they come from a legitimate source.
  • An applicant has to provide corresponding documentation to the government proving an entity is established in a duly manner and including certificates of no criminal records or relations to terrorist groups, etc.

Benefits of the EB-5 Visa Program

Having an EB-5 Visa, an investor gets many advantages equivalent to those of US citizens: education, health care service, social assistance, etc. A visa of this category allows him/her to freely enter the continental United States with no requirements to personally run the company, have a specific education, be proficient in English. After the validity period expires (normally 5 years), an investor may divest his/her funds from the company.

This program also allows investors, on easier terms, to become a Green Card holder and in 5 years – a US citizen. In addition, the spouse of an investor can be taken to the USA and officially operate while unmarried children under 21 years can study as US residents.

Many entrepreneurs make contributions via Regional Centers. These organizations are involved in boosting the US economy via external capital contributions and job formation, and they are consequently qualified to receive funds from immigrant investors.

By choosing this option, an investor gets ready business plans for a variety of projects. They differ from a fast-food outlet to a residential estate. But many of such drafts may not be profitable for an immigrant investor.

Business Visas

The E visa category covers business people who enter the USA with the purpose to set up a business in the US. Such visas come in 2 types: E-1 and E-2. Relevant to this visa category are only citizens of countries that have signed special agreements with the USA. There are over 60 countries that have E-1 and E-2 treaties with America. A full list of countries can be found on the US Department’s Portal.

E-1 Visa

The E-1 visa admits foreign nationals to relocate to the US with the intention of conducting international trade. It may refer to commodities, services, tourism, and even banking. The size of such activity must be significant and comprise a minimum of 50% of the international trading to/from the US. The law does not set rules or minimum level of trade that is deemed substantial, but obviously, the lower trading size is the less likely a petitioner is to receive a status of a visa holder.

To receive an E-1 visa, an applicant must take a managerial position or have certain skills that make his/her services vital to his/her employer’s entity, and such an applicant promises to leave the US when this status changes. Also, a prospective E-1 visa holder must be a Treaty Foreign National or at least 50% of his/her company must be under the ownership of TFNs.

This visa grants a permit for staying up to 2 years. Further, the initial stay may be extended up to 2 years. Dependents of an E-1 visa holder can get a visa as well.

In case of changing the aim of a visit while living in the US on an E-1 visa, a petitioner must change his/her visa status.

E-2 Visa

For many business people, the $1 million investment requirement is far too high. In this case, E-2 Visa is a great alternative for small entrepreneurs because for only $100,000 an applicant can open his/her own business in the USA.

E-2 does not offer direct options to obtain a permanent residency. There is no specific validity period for this program. Basically, such a program is granted for the period from 3 months to 5 years. It is possible to renew the validity period an infinite number of times.

There is no defined minimum or maximum amount of investment. The size of the initial contribution can be different based on the fact that different levels of investment are needed to open a large establishment and a small office. Overall, the unofficial minimum comprises $100,000 but the visa can be granted even if the contributed amount of capital is lesser.

There is a set of mandatory requirements to be satisfied:

  • The establishment must be bona fide and the contribution must be large enough to support an investor and his/her dependents within 5 years.
  • An entrepreneur must be entering the US with the sole purpose of developing the commercial entity, so an E-2 capital contribution shouldn’t be regarded as a side project.
  • Capital must be generated from a legitimate source.

The visa provides an investor an opportunity to reside in the US for an unlimited time subject to the terms that remain valid. Also, the family may apply for immigrant visas too. The time for the procession is on average 4 – 6 months or 15 – 30 days for an expedited review.

An applicant cannot petition for E-1 or E-2 status from outside of the US.

Work Visas

Every year, thousands of green cards and work visas in the US are granted for multiple occupations or employment categories ranging from arts to agriculture. To operate in the US, an individual must get a work visa to be hired in a legal way. There are several US work visas available for immigrating professionals. This visa classification includes the following visas: H-1B, L-1, O-1, and R-1.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa allows US employers to take into employment foreign specialists when there are no competent Americans for a certain position. The H-1B visa holder can be engaged in certain activities only for the financing entity or otherwise the visa will be nullified. The employee should possess an undergraduate academic degree in fields such as IT, finance, engineering, architecture, or more. The list of criteria to be met for this visa includes:

  • A job offer from a US proprietor;
  • An undergraduate academic degree;
  • Proof that there is a lack of qualified US candidates for the job.

Employers must evidence to the DOL that workers will be paid a fixed or set amount of money that is at least equivalent to the virtual wage given to other workers with similar involvement.

H-1B visas are approved for an initial period of up to 3 years, however, work visas can be prolonged beyond that. Normally, the maximum term of an H-1B visa, including extensions, is 6 years, but there are exceptions in certain cases.

A worker can take his or her H-1B visa status from one employer to another. These portability provisions exempt the worker and the employer from having to await approval notification from the USCIS before starting new H-1B employment. The close relatives of a worker can obtain H-4 visas for the same period of stay. They cannot be employed in the US but may get an education.

L-1 Visa

L-1 Visa (business expansion program) is a non-immigrant visa that allows a company to move an employee with managerial roles from one of its subsidiary foreign offices to one of its offices in the USA. The main criteria of applying for this visa is that an applicant must hold a managerial position for at least 3 last years. An applicant must submit the information that proves the continuous business activity of an establishment, its ability to maintain a US office, and other related documents.

Advantages of L-1 Visa:

  • Period of the procession is only 15 days;
  • Permission to freely enter and exit the territory of the US;
  • Permission to stay in the US till the visa is valid;
  • The family can also move to the USA with an official permit for work and education;
  • The visa can be expanded and transmitted to the EB1C / EB2 visas and provides a good chance of obtaining US lawful permanent residence.

O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa is given for persons who have not only a job offer in the US but proven exceptional capabilities or attainments. It refers to individuals in science, sport, commercial activity, education or the arts and the TV industry. International acknowledgment of an applicant’s success in any field is a solid reason to appeal for this type of visa. In general, it is issued for 3 years but is tied to the time needed to perform the activity, for which a candidate is admitted.

When qualifying for the O-1 visa, the following documents must be submitted: advisory opinion, duplicate of a written contract between a prospective employer in the US and a summary of services an applicant is going to provide in the US.

In addition, the provision of evidence of an applicant’s highest qualification and prominent achievements is required.

R-1 Visa

The R1 category is a non-immigrant visa giving the permit to foreigners to enter the USA temporarily for employment by a US non-profit religious establishment as a minister, monk, priest, rabbi, imam, or another religious worker. To obtain an R-1 status, an individual must evidence his/her professional role and planned activities in the US.

The program in which an applicant participates must be part of an international mission program. Proof of salaried or non-salaried compensation, copies of the bank record or documents proving the sources of self-support, proof of membership (compensated or self-supporting) are necessary to submit.

Once granted, the R-1 visa is valid for 30 months. Further, it can be extended up to 30 months. The maximum period of stay of an R-1 holder in the US is 5 years.

Why Choose Us?

The lawyers of “Eternity Law International” help clients from different countries come to the USA and establish new enterprises, acquire operational companies and make investments in a manner that enables the clients to obtain an applicable visa. Contact us today & get your initial consultation. We look forward to helping you with your US visa requirements.

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