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The USA remains the country that most immigrants want to make their new home. In the IT sector, it remains the centre of most technological innovation, and it continues to enjoy the highest per-capita income in the world.The US has over 60 types of non-immigrant US visas, and many different routes to an US immigration visa - US green card. We have focused our US immigration on-line guides on US work visa. We also cover US green cards, although the long processing times for green card applications mean that it is normally expedient to obtain a non-immigrant (temporary) USA visa first.


US Work VISA

General Introduction to US Work Visa

If you are not certain about what you need to do when bringing a non-US national to work for you, don’t worry – this is entirely normal. There are almost 60 different types of temporary US visas in addition to several routes to permanent residence ‘the green card’. This guide will not make you an expert, and is no substitute for professional advice, but it should make you familiar with the territory.

If you have not researched this area before, you may be thinking in terms of getting a ‘green card’ for your staff. Unfortunately, ‘green card’ applications usually take a long time so, even if this is the ultimate goal, you will probably need to begin by applying for a temporary work visa (once the candidate arrives in the US, you can begin working on the long term project of arranging the ‘green card’).

If you are going to need someone for less than 6 months, a sensible first question is – can the work be done by someone on a visitor’s visa (or visa-waiver), or will I need to get a ‘proper’ work visa? Visit visas in the US are called B1 or B2 visas.

The other ‘easy way out’ is if the candidate you want to hire is a Canadian. Treaties between the US and Canada mean that it is far easier to get a work visa if the candidate is Canadian. Unfortunately, Canada suffers from many of the same skills shortages as the US, so you will probably need to look at the ‘mainstream’ visa types for non-Canadian citizens.

There are three main categories of US work visa for professionals. The H1B visa is probably the most famous – or rather ‘infamous’ given the constant battles in Congress over the controversial issue of how large the H1B quota should be. If it were not for the fact that these quotas can run out rather early in the fiscal year, then the H1B visa would probably be the most useful type of US work visa as virtually any US enterprise can use it for either hires or intra-group transfers.

The problem of H1B quotas means that you will probably want to familiarize yourself with the other main type of visa used to bring alien workers into the US. This is the L1 visa; these visas can be used to transfer staff who have been employed for at least one year in the last three by your parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies outside the US.


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Visa

Designation

Uses

Max stay
B1
Business visitor
For business people making sales, conducting negotiations, attending meetings and seeking investments.
6 months
H1B
Speciality Occupation worker
For individuals having the equivalent of a US bachelor degree (Foreign degrees and/or work experiencemay be found to be equivalent to a US bachelor degree).
6 years
L1A
Intra Company Transferee
For executives or managers who have worked for at least one year in the past three for a foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office of the US company that will employ them.
7 years
L1B
Intra Company Transferee
For specialized knowledge employees who have worked for at least one year in the past three for a foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office of the proposed US employer.
5 years
E1
Treaty trader
For staff to direct and develop import / export trade between the US and the treaty country.
Indefinate (2-yesr increments)
E2
Treaty Investor
For staff to direct and develop investments made in the US by a treaty country national/company
Indefinate (2-yesr increments)
Permanent residence
First preference priority worker
Professionals with advanced degrees or those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.  
Permanent
Permanent residence   
Second Preference Priority Worker
Professionals with advanced degrees or those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
Permanent
Permanent residence   
Third Preference Worker
Professionals with basic degrees, and skilled workers. Also "other workers" who have less than two years of relevant experience.
Permanent 
The table below provides an ‘at a glance’ summary
Greencard

Green Card (employment based)

In most cases where you are looking to fill a vacancy quickly, it is not feasible to apply for lawful permanent residence.

Most employment based permanent residence applications involve demonstrating that there is a shortage of US workers to fill the vacancy. The process of demonstrating such a shortage is called 'Labor Certification'.

Wherever 'Labor Certification' is involved, the total processing time invariably exceeds six months, and may take years. Even where 'Labor Certification' is not required, it is normally easier to transfer a candidate to the US using a non-immigrant visa, and then to apply for a 'Green Card' once they have taken up their position.


The following may obtain a 'Green Card' without 'Labor Certification':



Aliens of Exceptional Ability in Business, Sciences, Arts, or Education:

Applications for a 'Green Card' for aliens of exceptional ability should be supported by:

AND: at least 3 (and preferably more) of the following:

OR: A Similar award from an institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;



International Executives and Managers:

A multinational corporation with an established US office (i.e. one that has been in existence for at least one year), may obtain a 'Green Card' for international executives who have worked in an executive or managerial capacity for a non-US branch of the corporation for at least one year in the last three.

Applications under this category will generally need to be supported by:


Professionals with Advanced Degrees

This category is detailed below; it can only be used following 'Labor Certification'

Professionals
This category is detailed below; it can only be used following 'Labor Certification'

Skilled Workers
This category is detailed below; it can only be used following 'Labor Certification'

Other Workers
This category is detailed below; it can only be used following 'Labor Certification'

Labor Certification
Before you may obtain a 'Green Card' for a foreign worker who does not qualify for exemption from 'Labor Certification' , that company must demonstrate to the local office of the US Department of Labor that the job is one for which there are not sufficient United States workers who are willing, qualified, and available at the time of application for a visa.

The employer must also demonstrate that the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and/or working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.

Labor Certification is a difficult and time-consuming process, but, in itself, it does not permit an alien to start work in the US. It is simply one of several requirements before for the grant of an immigrant visa.

An application for Labor Certification is made using official form ETA 750; this form comes in two parts, Part A, and Part B. Each part must be accompanied by documents as outlined below:

Documentation to be included with ETA 750, Part A

Documents to be included with Form ETA 750, Part B

Professionals with advanced degrees
Subject to labor certification, members of the professions who hold advanced degrees may practice in the US.

Applications for a 'Green Card' for a Professional with an advanced degree should be supported by:



Professionals
Subject to labor certification, any qualified member of the professions may practice in the US; their applications will take longer to process than those of professionals with advanced degrees.

Applications for a 'Green Card' for a Professional should be supported by:



Skilled workers
For US immigration purposes, a 'skilled worker' is one who will be engaging in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience; the worker must have the relevant experience, and a shortage of those particular skills must be demonstrated. It will take longer to process an application for a Skilled Worker than it takes for a professional.

Applications for a 'Green Card' for a skilled worker should be supported by:



Other workers:
Where labor certification has demonstrated a shortage any particular type of skills in the U.S., it is possible for those with that skill to be granted a 'Green Card'. However, where the workers are not officially deemed to be 'skilled workers' (see above) the process takes several years; such delays render this option unattractive to employers.

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