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“B” visas are nonimmigrant visas for non-U.S. foreign nationals who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2). Unless the foreign national who wishes to enter the United States as a visitor is citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program the foreign national is required to obtain a non-immigrant B visa. Applicants for such visas are required to make it clear to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy that they do not intend to remain permanently in the United States.
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Foreign nationals may apply for several categories of temporary worker visas. These visas are non-immigrant visas meant for those who seek to work temporarily in the United States. Certain categories of visas, such as the H-1B visa category, are limited in number, with strict annual quotas.
In order to obtain a temporary employment visa, generally a U.S. employer or agent must first file a Petition for Non-immigrant Worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If this petition is approved, it is the foreign national's responsibility to obtain a temporary employment visa.
Specific types of temporary employment visa categories include:
E Treaty Visa
E visas are for those entering the U.S. to engage in trade or investment services or activities.
"E-1" (Treaty Trader) visas are for people who own or work for companies that do a substantial amount of trade with the United States, and who will be working for that company in the United States for an extended period of time. E-1 visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that their company carries on well-established and significant trade in goods and/or services between the treaty country and the United States.
"E-2 " (Treaty Investor) visas are for people who personally invest a substantial amount of their own money in ventures within the United States. These visas can only be issued if the U.S. has a treaty with the alien's country.
"E-3 " visas are for Australian specialty occupation workers performing services in a specialty occupation.
“H-1B” visas are reserved for “specialty occupations” meaning professional positions which require a Bachelor’s degree at the entry level. Additionally, the employer must pay prevailing wage in the area of employment as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Currently, there are only 85,000 H-1B visas available to be issued every year (with 20,000 of those reserved for graduates from U.S. institutions with Master's degrees or higher).
H-1B visas are usually granted for periods of three years, with a maximum duration of six years, though a person's H-1B visa status period can be extended past the 6 year limit in situations where that individual has an approved employment-based permanent residence petition. There are also special provisions for applicants from Chile and Singapore.
An H-1B employee's spouse and children may accompany him/her to the U.S. as H-4 dependents, but the H-4 spouse cannot apply for employment authorization in the U.S. except in limited circumstances where the H-1B spouse has an approved immigrant petition.
“H-2A" visas for temporary agricultural and "H-2B” visas for temporary non-agricultural labor are available for employees performing services that are of a temporary or seasonal nature.
“H-3” is available for certain kinds of trainees.
Members of foreign press/media who report on news events and who need to travel to the United States to gather information for the media may be eligible for an I-visa if they:
Journalists and media workers can also obtain an I-visa if they are being assigned to reside in the U.S. as representatives of a foreign press, radio, film, or other information medium which as a home office in a foreign country and the applicant’s government allows for reciprocal visas to American information media.
The L-1A and L-1B visas are two types of work visas that allow for intracompany transfer for employees in managerial positions or have specialized knowledge who work for companies operating both in the United States and abroad.
To qualify for an L visa:
The P is designated for entertainers, circus artists, and athletes who are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific competition or event. The P visa classifications that are available based on the specific purpose of the applicant's temporary travel to the United States include:
The O-1 visa is designated for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The O-1 visa is very helpful for artists, athletes, entertainers, high-end chefs, and business people lacking professional degrees. There is no prevailing wage requirement, the O-1 visa may be extended indefinitely and there is no numerical limit to the number of O-1 visas issued.
An F-1 visa may be obtained for a student who wishes to pursue full-time academic studies in a college, university, seminar, conservatory, private academic high school, other academic institution, or language-training program. An M visa is issued to international students who are coming to the US to pursue full-time course study at an established vocational school or other nonacademic school that has been approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply for a student visa, an individual must be already accepted to the university / vocational school and be able to provide a letter from the university establishing enrollment.
The “J-1” visa is designated for educational and cultural exchange programs and is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. This visa is commonly used by foreign doctors who wish to train in the United States.
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