E-1 Treaty Trader Visa/ E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
E-1 and E-2 visas are issued to nationals of a country with which the U.S. has an appropriate treaty of commerce and navigation or equivalent pact. Aliens having an E-1 visa come to the U.S. to conduct substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, mainly between the U.S. and the treaty country. For the E-2 treaty investors, they enter the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested, or are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. An applicant may qualify as the trader or investor or as an employee of a qualifying trader or investor company having the same nationality.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
E-1 Treaty Trader Requirements:
Applicant must be an alien who is a national of a treaty country.
If applicant will be employed rather than doing business on his or her own account, employing company must have (same) treaty nationality.
Company must be at least 50% owned by persons with treaty country nationality who are not lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and, if in the U.S., are maintaining E-1 or E-2 status.
The trading company must be engaged in “trading”. “Trading” is defined as the exchange, purchase, or sales of goods or services which is intended to develop international commercial trade between the US and the treaty counties.
The trading company must be engaged in doing substantial trade with the US. The applicant must show numerous transactions over time and a significant monetary value of business.
Over 50% of the total volume of the trade must be between the US and the treaty country.
Who can apply E-1 Visa: Owners, managers, executives, or employees in essential positions of the company.
Length of Stay in the U.S. E-1 visa is generally issued for an initial period of stay of 2 years. The E-1 stay can be renewed continuously without a limit, as long as they meet the requirements and the treaty remains in force.
Family Members (spouse/children) of E-1 treaty trader can accompany or follow to join the principal E-1 with the same type of visa. E-1 spouse can work with authorization.
Countries Having Trade Treaties with the U.S.
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brunei, Canada, Taiwan, Columbia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.
* These countries are subject to change and may change.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
E-2 Treaty Investor Requirements
Applicant must be an alien who is a national of a treaty country.
If applicant will be employed rather than doing business on his or her own account, employing company must have (same) treaty nationality.
At least 50% of the company’s ownership must be in the hands of the nationals of the treaty country.
The investment is active, not passive.
The investment must be substantial in the U.S. Under the proportionate test, the amount invested must be weighed against the total value of the enterprise for established enterprises or the amount considered necessary to set up a viable enterprise for new business. For small to mid-sized firm, “substantial” means the investment must be more than half the value of the enterprise. For service business, the test is whether the amount is sufficient to establish a viable enterprise.
The investment cannot be marginal, in that the investment cannot be the individual’s sole income source. It should be able to create more jobs.
Who can apply for E-2 visa: Principal investors, managers, executives, or employees in essential positions of the company.
Length of Stay in the U.S. E-2 visa is generally issued for two years at a time, but can be renewed continuously without a limit on stay in E-2 status, as long as they meet the requirements and the treaty remains in force.
Family Members (spouse/children) of E-2 treaty investor can accompany or follow to join the principal E-2 with the same type of visa. E-2 spouse can work with authorization
Distinction between E-2 Treaty Investors and EB-5 Immigrant Investors
E-2 treaty investor is a nonimmigrant visa. EB-5 Immigrant Investor is an immigrant category authorizing permanent residence in the U.S. The amount of investment and number of employees required for EB-5 is higher than E-2.
Countries Having Investment Treaties with the U.S.
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Camaroon, Canada, Republic of China (Taiwan), Columbia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo, Dem. Rep. of the (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Japan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldovia, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Rep., Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia. * These countries are subject to change and may change.
H-1B Visa for Professional Workers
H-1B visa is a work type visa. Holders of such a visa or status can woke in the U.S. without applying separately for employment authorization. This visa is issued to professionals having a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent who come to the U.S. to work in specialty occupations.
Requirements and Process for H-1B Visa
There must be an established U.S. employer having a taxpayer identification number, who can offer a proper position to and pay the prevailing wages to the applicant.
The individual must have at lest a Bachelor degree or its equivalent in the relevant field of the employer’s business. Bachelor equivalent is decided on number of years of work experience. Three years of work experience can be counted as one year college education.
In order to establish that employer will pay the prevailing wages and the employment of H-1B worker will be conducted with the Department of Labor’s requirement of working conditions, and will adversely affect the U.S. workers similarly employed, the Labor Condition Application (LCA) must be filed whit DOL prior to the petition to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Once the LCA is approved by the DOL, the H-1B petition is filed with CIS. If the individual is in the U.S., s/he will request of change of status from other visa category (such as F-1, L-1, B-1/B-2) to H-1B, and receive the final approval in the U.S. If the H-1B individual is abroad, the INS will notify the Consulate in the foreign country where the individual resides of the approval. Then, the individual will apply the H-1B visa from the U.S. consulate abroad.
H1B work visa application conditions:
- The applicant must have at least bachelor’s degree or higher. Degree can be obtained in the United States; it can be to obtain a degree outside the United States. Degree obtained outside the U.S. rating agencies need to go through certification.
- The post applied for must be relevant to their professional degree.
- The employer must agree to pay not less than the minimum wage salary.
Immigration Law requires employers to put forward six months in advance H1B work visas. Therefore, each year from April 1 next year can start working those beneficiaries of H1B visa application. H1B visas each fiscal year from October 1 st.
H-2B Visa for Temporary Skilled or Unskilled Workers
H-2B visa is issued to those who will come to the U.S. to work on a temporary basis in skilled or unskilled nonagricultural position. The employment of such worker must be one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, or an intermittent need, such as entertainment company needs actors or performers for producing movies or special music festivals; establishing new production line, and expansion of business need workers with special skills, seasonal sport activities need instructors, etc. Employers should demonstrate that no U.S. workers capable of performing such service /labor are available in the U.S.
L-1 Visa for Intercompany Transferees
L-1 visa is issued to the aliens who worked abroad in a managerial or executive capacity or one who possesses specialized knowledge, and will work in the U.S. in one of these capacities. They are assigned by their foreign company to work for the same, subsidiary or affiliated company in the U.S.
What is required for L-1 Visa?
Employers for Which the L-1 Employee Worked before and Will Work in the U.S. To qualify for L-1 visa, there must be qualified organizations (employers) both abroad and in the U.S. such as a firm, corporation or other legal entity or its affiliate or subsidiary, including profit, nonprofit, religious charitable organizations. The organization must conduct regular business. The two organizations must have the required ownership and controlling relations. In the case of parent company and subsidiary, such relationship exists where the subsidiary is (1) a firm, corporation, or other legal entities of which a parent company owns more than 50% and controls the entities; (2) a 50-50 joint venture company in which the parent company owns 50% of the entity and has equal control and veto power over the entity; or (3) a firm, corporation, or other legal entity of which parent company owns less than 50% of the entity, but in fact controls the entity. The parent company can be an overseas company, and the subsidiary is a U.S. entity; or vice versa.
L-1 Employee. During the three years prior to the L-1 visa application or change of status, The L-1 Employee who will be transferred to the U.S. Company must have worked for the overseas company for one year (1 of the 3 years). S/he must work in the capacity that is managerial, executive or involves specialized knowledge, and will continue to perform the similar duties in the U.S.
Family Members (spouse/children). They can accompany or follow to join the L-1 transferees in the L-2 visa. However, they cannot work without authorization.
O Visas for Extraordinary Ability Entertainers, Athletes and Others
O visas consist of three sub-categories, O-1, O-2 and O-3.
O-1 visa is issued to aliens who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. This is a very broad category for aliens with extraordinary ability. It covers almost every area of social and natural science. Arts can includes any field of creative activity or endeavor such as fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. For example, an executive chef can apply for O-1 as an alien with extraordinary ability in the field of culinary arts. INS also defines arts to cover “aliens engaged in the field of arts include not only the principal creators and performers but other essential persons such as, but not limited to, directors, set designers, lighting designers, sound designers, choreographers, choreologists, conductors, orchestrators, coaches, arrangers, musical supervisors, costume designers, makeup artists, flight masters, stage technicians, and animal trainers.”
O-2 visa is issued to aliens who accompany or assist in the artistic or athletic performance by the O-1 aliens. The O-2 visa holders must be an integral part of such actual performance or events, and possess critical skills and experience with the O-1 aliens. Such skill and experience should not be a general nature and not possessed by other individuals. If the O-2 aliens come to the U.S. for movie or TV production, their skills and experience must be based on a pre-existing longstanding working relationship with the O-1 principal aliens. In the case of a specific move or TV production, a long-standing relationship is not required, if the aliens’ participation is essential to the successful completion of the production.
O-3 visa is issued to family members (spouse/children) of O-1 and O-2 aliens. They can accompany or follow to join the principals. They cannot work without authorization.
Distinction between O-1 and EB-1A Aliens with Extraordinary Ability
Although both the O-1 and EB-1A requires aliens to have extraordinary ability in the field of sciences, arts, education, business or athletics etc., O-1 category is a nonimmigrant visa permitting limited period of stay in the U.S., EB-1A is an employment-based immigrant first preference category. Aliens under this EB-1A category are eligible to apply for permanent residence status (green card).
Length and Extension of Stay in the U.S. O visa is granted for the length of time necessary to provide for the event or activity for which the O-1 alien’s service is required, up to three years? Extension of stay can be granted in increments of one year. As long as his/her service is required extension can be applied consecutively.
P Visa for Artists, Entertainers and Athletes
P visas consist of four sub-categories, P-1, P-2, P-3, and P-4.
P-1 visa is issued to alien athletes who come the U.S. to participate in specific athletic competition individually, or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level or performance (P-1A); or to alien entertainers/performers who performs with, or is an integral or essential part of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time (P-1B), and the performers has had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (for at lest one year) and provide functions integral to the performance of the group.
P-2 visa is issued to artist and entertainers who will participate in a reciprocal exchange program between overseas and the U.S. organizations which provide for the temporary exchange of artists, entertainers or groups. They come to the U.S. to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, or as an integral part of the performance of such a group.
P-3 visa is issued to alien artists and entertainers who will come to the U.S. to perform, teach, or coach under a commercial or noncommercial program that is culturally unique. They can come individually or as part of a group, or as an integral part of the performance of the group.
P-4 visa is issued to family members (spouse/children) of the P-1, P-2 and P-3 principals. They can accompany or follow to join the principals with P-1 visa. They cannot work without authorization.
Length of Stay and Extension
P-1 individual athlete may be granted a period of five years, and an extension of another five years, up to a total of ten years. For other P-1 aliens, athletic team, or entertainment group, the period of stay is limited to the time necessary to complete the performance or event, but not to exceed one year. Extension of stay can be authorized in increments of 1 year in order for them to continue to complete the same event.
P-2 and P-3 artists and entertainers are granted for a period of time necessary for them to complete the event, activity, or performance, but not to exceed one year? Extension of 1 year can be applied annually.
Q Visa for International Cultural Exchange
Q visa is issued to aliens who will come to the U.S. to participate in an international exchange program. The main purpose of the program is to provide practical training, employment and share the history, culture and traditions of the country of the aliens’ nationality. The alien participant must be treated the same as the U.S. worker with respect to wages and working conditions.
Cultural Component. The exchange program must have a cultural component which is an essential and integral part of the cultural visitor’s employment or training. This component must be designed on the whole to exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy or tradition of the person’s country of nationality. A cultural component may include standard instructional activities such as courses or lecture series, or language camps.
Length of Stay and Extension. Q visa can be granted for 15 months of stay in the U.S. If the initial approval is less than 15 months, extension of stay can be approved up to a total of 15 months. Alien who has spent 15 months in the U.S. with Q visa can not come back with the same category unless he/she physically outside the U.S. for 1 year. Brief trips to the U.S. with B-1/B-2 do not break the continuity of the 1 year foreign residence requirement.
Family Members (spouse/children). They cannot come to the U.S. under Q category. However, they can come under B-2 visa, staying the same length of time as the Q alien does. They cannot work without authorization.
R-1 Visa for Religious Workers
R-1 visa is issued to aliens who are ministers or religious workers who come temporarily to the U.S. to carry on the activity of a religious worker. The main purpose of their visit is to solely carry on the vocation of a minister or the religious denomination; work for the religious organization at the request of the organization in a professional capacity, or to work for the organization, or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination, at the request of the organization in a religious vocation or occupation.
Length of Stay and Extension. The total period of stay for R-1 visa is 5 years. The R-1 worker is initially granted a stay of 30 months, with the eligibility of applying for extension of stay for another 30 months, up to a maximum period of stay of 5 years. After having spent 5 years in the U.S., the R-1 worker must reside physically outside the U.S. for 1 year before s/he can be readmitted under the same category. However, brief visit to the U.S. for business or pleasure (B-1/B-2) is allowed.
Distinction Between R-1 and EB-4 Ministers & Religious Workers. R-1 category of religious worker is a nonimmigrant visa which authorizes only certain limited period of stay in the U.S. EB-4 Religious Worker is an employment-based fourth preference immigrant category, qualified aliens under which will receive permanent residence status (green card) in the U.S.
Family Members (spouse/children). They can accompany or follow to join the R-1 worker with R-2 visa. They cannot work without authorization.
TN Status under NAFTA, Canada/Mexico Professionals
The TN is a category designed under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for Canadian and Mexicans citizens who come temporarily as business persons to engage in business activities at a professional level. As a TN professional, s/he must have at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional in a profession. This INS regulation specify various categories that qualify as TN professions such as account, architect, computer systems analyst, economist, engineer, graphic designer, hotel manager, industrial designer, management consultant etc.
Length of Stay and Extension. The TN professional is granted a period of stay of 1 year initially. Extension of stay can be requested in increments of 1 year consecutively each year without limitation.
Distinction between TN professionals and H-1B professional workers. TN status is only granted to Canadian and Mexican citizens, while H-1B is granted to qualified aliens of all nations. TN status has no statutory limitation on stay in the U.S., but H-1B requires the 1-year abroad residence after the alien has spent 6 years in the U.S. in order to continue to have his/her H-1B status. The requirement for TN application is less complex than H-1B.? TN aliens cannot have dual intent (immigrant and nonimmigrant), however, such intent is applicable to H-1B workers.
Family Members (Spouse/Children) of TN Professional. They can accompany or follow to join the TN alien with TD visa. They cannot work without authorization.
B-1 Visa Issued to Business Visitors
V, Spouse/Child of U.S. Green Carder Holder
The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments established a new nonimmigrant category (V) that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) to live and work in the United States in a nonimmigrant category. The spouse or child can remain in the United States while they wait until they are able to apply for lawful permanent residence status, or for an immigrant visa, instead of having to wait outside the United States as the law previously required.
Eligibility for V Visa
A person may be eligible to apply at a U.S. consulate abroad for a V-1 or V-2 visa or seek V-1 or V-2 nonimmigrant status while in the United States, if that person:
is lawfully married to a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)of the United States (V-1), or is the unmarried child (under the age of 21) of a Lawful Permanent Resident (V-2); and
is the principal beneficiary of a relative immigrant petition that was filed by the LPR spouse/parent on or before December 21, 2000; and
has been waiting at least 3 years since the petition was filed for status as a LPR because the petition is still pending, or has been approved but:
an immigrant visa is not yet available; or,
there is a pending application to adjust status or application for an immigrant visa.
The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2 nonimmigrant is eligible for a V-3 visa or for V-3 status.
Eligibility to Work in the U.S.
Persons in V-1, V-2, or V-3 status are eligible to work when they get the work permit from USCIS. They should use USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) to apply for a work permit
K-3/K-4, Visa for Spouse or Child of a U.S. Citizen
The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments established a new nonimmigrant category that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen to be admitted to the U. S. in a nonimmigrant category. The admission allows the spouse or child to complete processing for permanent residence/green card while in the United States. It also allows those admitted in the new category to have permission for employment while they wait processing of their case to permanent resident status.
Eligibility for K-4/K-4 Visa
A person may receive a K-3 visa if she/he:
- has concluded a valid marriage with a citizen of the United States;
- has a relative immigrant petition filed by the U.S. citizen spouse for him/her;
- seeks to enter the United States to await the approval of the petition and subsequent lawful permanent resident status, and,
- has an approved K-3 visa Petition for Alien Fiancé, forwarded to the American consulate abroad where the alien wishes to apply for the K-3/K-4 visa. The consulate must be in the country in which the marriage to the U.S. citizen took place if the United States has a consulate which issues immigrant visas in that country. If the marriage took place in the United States, the designated consulate is the one with jurisdiction over the current residence of the alien spouse.
A person may receive a K-4 visa, if that person is under 21 years of age and is the unmarried child of an alien eligible to be a K-3.
K-1 Visa for Fiancés/Fiancées
K-1 visa is issued to fiancés/fiancées of the U.S. citizen. The purpose of the alien’s visit to the U.S. is to marry a U.S. citizen fiancés/fiancées. Within three months after entering the U.S., the alien must be married to the U.S. citizen who petitioned the K-1 visa for him/her, otherwise the alien must leave the U.S. After marriage the alien is eligible for adjustment of status to Permanent Residents/Green Card in the U.S. on the bases of immediate relatives of U.S. citizen.
Minor children of K-1 alien fiancés/fiancées will be issued a K-2 visa.
Work Authorization. During the 3-month period of stay in the U.S., the alien fiancés/fiancées can work with employment authorization.
J-1 Visa Issued to Exchange Visitors
J-1 visa is issued to business trainees, students, professors or scholars, short term scholars, non academic specialists, foreign physicians, international visitors, government visitors, etc. The main purpose of J-1 visa program is to promote cultural exchange. The exchange visitors participating in such a program may engage in teaching, lecturing, studying, observing, and conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills or receiving training. Some programs may permit employment.
Period of Stay. The length of stay in the U.S. depends on the fields of programs, ranging from 4 months to 3 years or even longer time.
Family Members (spouse/children). The exchange visitors’ family members can accompany or following to join the visitors with J-2 visas. Spouse or child of the visitors can work in the U.S. with employment authorization.
F-1 Visa for Academic Students
F-1 visa is issued to students who are seeking to study in the U.S. The applicant must: be admitted to a school which is authorized to issue I-20 to him/her, have a foreign residence with no intention of abandoning it, be a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study, seek to enter the U.S. as a student “temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study at an established institution of learning or other recognized places of study in the U.S., and have sufficient financial support.
Under the newly amended immigration law, the F-1 students cannot attend a public elementary school or publicly funded adult education programs. If s/he attends public secondary school, s/he must pay tuition to the school board. The attendance must not exceed 12 months.
Period of Stay. The period of stay for F-1 student is the durational period of study in the U.S., depending how long it takes she/he to complete the study.
Change of Status. During or before the expiration date of practical training, students may apply for change of status from F-1 to H-1B Professional Workers, if an U.S. employer will provide them with a job offer which is related to the courses of their studies. The job can be a part-time or full-time position.
F1 visa materials
- I-20 Form
- OF-156 form that is “non-immigrant visa application form”
- The marriage certificate and child birth certificate (if accompanied by family members)
- If married and have accompanying family members, are required to submit original marriage certificate, divorce certificate or death of a spouse as proof of
- The applicant can prove that after the completion of their studies to return to their country of residence proof, such areal estate documents outside the United States, stocks, industrial inheritance, relationships outside the family, returning home to jobs or promotion, etc.
- Academic qualifications, such as diplomas, transcripts, etc. However, some consulates do not require
- English proficiency, such as T0FFL examination transcripts, embassies and consulates this requirement may vary depending on the circumstances.
- source of income proof. Such as deposits, scholarship, parents or bank guarantee and the ability to proof.
B-2 Visa Issued to Visitors
B-2 visa is issued to foreign nationals who come to the U.S. is for pleasure, such as sightseeing, visiting to friends/relatives, seeking medical treatment; participating in conventions of social organizations; participating in amateur musical, sports or similar events with no remuneration, etc.
B-1 Visa Issued to Business Visitors
B-1 visa is issued to those who come to go the U.S. for business purpose not involving gainful employment, such as negotiating contract, litigation, consulting with clients or business associates; participating in scientific, educational, professional, religious or business conventions/meetings.