Foreign workers are valuable because they often have highly specialized knowledge in their fields, as well as the ability to add cultural diversity to the workplace. They also enhance U.S. employers’ business and help to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace throughout the world, when there are no U.S. based workers qualified or able to fill these positions.

Employers will therefore aim to obtain one of two business or work-related visas on behalf of their employees: Temporary work visas (non-immigrant visas) and employment-based permanent residency visas (immigrant visa). Temporary work visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time and are not considered permanent or indefinite.

How Zepeda Law Can Help With Your Employment Immigration Process

Our firm has experienced attorneys who have a detailed knowledge of United States citizenship and immigration law.  As a result, we can assist you with the entire employment immigration process, whether you need help with the hiring process, or the transfer of foreign workers. In addition, if you need help with exploring options for your employees for work authorization, we can help with that as well.  Lastly, we can coach you on the requirements necessary to obtain the appropriate visa documentation.

Below is a list of temporary work visas an applicant could possibly obtain depending on their skilled or unskilled work, education, etc.

H-1B Specialty Workers Visa

One option available to employers is the H-1B Visa which allows businesses to sponsor highly skilled foreign nationals in specialized occupations to come work in the United States on a temporary basis. These specialty occupations include, but are not limited to: IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Engineering, Teaching, Medical, Legal, and Telecommunications. To qualify for the H-1B Visa, foreign nationals must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in their specialized field. 

In order to obtain an H-1B Visa, the United States Government places a cap on the number of foreign workers, issuing a limited number of H-1B Visas per year. Most people will have to be put into a lottery system and if they’re selected, they are able to continue with applying for their H-1B visa. An employer would have to navigate the many systems of USCIS and the Department of Labor to be able to apply for an H-1B visa for their employee.

With great demand and limited supply, it is important that you consult an attorney who understands the extremely detailed process of obtaining work authorization in the U.S. We assist in the preparation of the petition, application, and review of all supporting documentation to ensure that you do not fall victim to the common H-1B Visa pitfalls which lead to the rejection of many applications each year.

H-2 Temporary or Seasonal Work Visa

The H-2 Visa allows employers to bring temporary workers to the United States to fill a job opening for a specified time period up to one continuous year. The employment must be a one-time need due to a labor shortage in the United States, or be fulfilling a temporary or seasonal need. In order to obtain H-2 Visa, the employer must obtain a Temporary Labor Certificate from the United States Department of Labor asserting that no American workers will be displaced by the hiring of foreign nationals and that the foreign national will be paid the prevailing wage for American workers in the same position. Once the employer has obtained the Temporary Labor Certificate, a petition must be filed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services verifying that the position is temporary. The H-2 Visa process varies depending on whether the foreign worker is an agricultural or non-agricultural worker.

H2A: Temporary Agricultural Work Visa:  The H-2A program helps employers bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs where there are no U.S.-based qualified employees to fill those positions.  The type of labor can include, but is not limited to, planting, cultivating, or harvesting labor.

H2B: Temporary Non-Agricultural Work Visa: H-2B temporary non-agricultural program helps employers to also bring foreign workers to fill positions where there is a shortage of available and qualified employees to do non-agricultural work that is temporary or seasonal.  This visa is good up until 1 year and can be renewed in 1 year increments, for up to 3 years.  Renewals can be difficult.  Spouses and children may come in as dependents and attend school, but cannot work in the U.S. The type of work can include business trainers, entertainers, athletes, camp counselors, ski instructors, waiters, construction workers, landscapers, cooks, home attendants for terminally ill patients, and other individuals in hospitality, amusement parks, retail, resorts, among others.

Contact our firm to discuss the necessary requirements to obtain temporary worker authorization through the H-2 Visa program.

H-3 Professional Training Visa

Companies that have training programs to educate individuals in a specific industry are able to sponsor foreign participants by obtaining the H-3 Visa. The H-3 visa allows foreign nationals to temporarily live in the United States for a specified period of time (the duration of their training) in order to train with a U.S.-based company in various occupations including commerce, agriculture, finance, government, and business. It is important to note that individuals receiving medical training are not eligible for this Visa program.

In order to qualify for the H-3 Visa, an individual must be invited by an organization, company or American citizen for training that is not available in the foreign national’s home country. Applicants seeking the H-3 Visa must file a petition proving that they will not be employed in the United States beyond what is necessary for their training and that the experience will benefit the trainee in pursuing a career outside the U.S. upon the completion of the program.

E1 and E2 Visas

The U.S. has special treaties related to commerce with a number of countries.  These treaties allow individuals from such countries who need to travel to the U.S. for substantial trade and business-related activities. Individuals who want to apply for an E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Treaty Investor Visa generally apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Applicants must submit a myriad of documents and forms and go through an interview process:

  1. Treaty Trader (E-1)
  2. Treaty Investor (E-2) visas.

E-1 Treaty Trader

Individuals from qualifying treaty countries who want to apply for an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa must meet certain requirements, such as:

  1. The company that is seeking to conduct trade in the U.S. must be based in the same treaty country of the individual.
  2. There must be a significant amount of international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.
  3. The individual must have specialized skills and be in a management position of the company which is conducting trade.

E-2 Treaty Investor

The United States offers a variety of business investment visas designed to encourage economic growth and attract foreign investors. Among the most prominent are the E-2 Treaty Investor Visas, which allows individuals from treaty countries to invest in a U.S. business; the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, providing a pathway to permanent residency for substantial investments that create jobs; and the L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa for managers, executives, or specialized knowledge employees transferring to a U.S. branch of their company. Business investment visas not only facilitate the entry of capital and expertise into the U.S. but also provide investors with opportunities to expand their business horizons.

An E2 Treaty Visa allows investors to live and work in the U.S., manage their investments, and travel freely. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 can accompany the investor. This visa can be issued for two to five years and be renewed indefinitely. Individuals from qualifying treaty countries who want to apply for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa must meet certain requirements, such as:

1. There must be a sufficient amount of investment to ensure the success of the underlying business.  It should also have a significant economic impact in the U.S.

2. The investment must be for an active, operating business and not a passive or speculative investment.

3. If the individual applying for the visa is not the investor, he or she must be in a management position at the company making the investment.

L-1 Multinational Corporation Employee

An L1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa (and a type of investor visa for companies) whereby multinational companies with multiple locations in the United States and abroad may sponsor foreign employees to join their U.S. branch by obtaining the L-1 Visa. In order to be eligible for this visa, an individual must have worked abroad for the company for at least one continuous year prior to relocating to the United States. Two types of employees may be eligible for the L-1 Visa:

  • Managers and Executives who hold a supervisory role within the company may apply for the L-1A Visa for a maximum of seven years.
  •  Employees with specialized knowledge of the company’s products, services, research, systems, management, operations or procedures which is not widely held or available in the United States may be eligible for the L-1B Visa. These individuals may remain in the United States for a maximum of five years.

Investment Opportunities: The L1 visa allows business owners to establish a business in the US without having to invest a significant amount, as required by the EB5 immigrant investor scheme (where over a 1 million dollar investment is needed).

This type of visa allows for the pursuit of permanent residency while on a non-immigrant visa. In addition, the spouses of L-1 visa holders can apply for work authorization.

Employers may petition for foreign national employees through the regular L-1 Visa procedure, submitting a petition for each individual employee, or by filing a Blanket L-1 Visa petition which allows the employer to apply for the L-1 Visa on behalf of multiple employees under a single petition. Generally, blanket petitions are only available for larger corporations as certain criteria must be met. Once the Blanket L-1 is approved, employers have greater flexibility in transferring employees to the United States.

Religious Worker Visa

There are several options available to foreigners who are called to do religious work in the United States. Which option is most appropriate depends on the nature of the work and its duration.

Visitor B Visa for Temporary Religious Activity

Certain religious-related activities can be undertaken using a visitor (B) visa, which is relatively easy to obtain.

People who wish to travel to the United States for religious activities – such as worship, prayer, meditation, informal religious study, or attendance of religious services or conferences – can typically obtain a regular visitor (B) visa.

A visitor visa is also appropriate for ministers seeking to come to the United States temporarily, if their wages will be paid by their own religious group outside the United States.

R-1 Visa for Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

Religious workers who will only be in the United States temporarily may be eligible for an R-1 Visa. Both the worker and the organization he or she is working for must meet certain criteria. In short, the worker must prove he or she will work at least part time, and the organization must prove its legitimacy and explain how the worker will be compensated.

An R-1 religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be able to accompany the R-1 worker.

P Visa

A temporary U.S. work visa known as the P visa is available to outstanding athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment companies with a job offer from a U.S. employer. This visa also extends to artists, entertainers, and their support staff. 

P1 – Internationally Recognized Athletes or Athletic Teams

The P-1A classification applies to you if you are coming temporarily to the United States solely for the purpose of performing at a specific athletic competition as:

  • An individual athlete at an internationally recognized level of performance;
  • Entertainment company (group or team) at an internationally recognized level of performance;
  • A professional athlete; or
  • An athlete or coach, as part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association. 

P2 – Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform in a Reciprocal Exchange Program

You must be an artist entering the United States through a government-recognized reciprocal exchange program. At the present time, five P-2 reciprocal agreements have been negotiated between the following organizations:

  • The American Federation of Musicians (U.S.) and the American Federation of Musicians (Canada);
  • Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association;
  • Actor’s Equity Association (U.S.) and the British Actors’ Equity Association;
  • The International Council of Air Shows and the Canadian Air Show Association.
  • The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Screen Actor Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

If a reciprocal agreement is submitted other than these five, USCIS will review the agreement to determine if the agreement adheres to the regulatory standard.

P3 – Artists, entertainers, and essential support staff

The P-3 visa is designated for those looking to come to the U.S. to either perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique. Artists, entertainers, and their essential support personnel get to showcase their talent and share their traditions with the American audience. The initial period of stay is up to 1 year. Extensions can be granted for increments of up to 1 year to continue or complete the event, performance, or production.

P3 Visa must meet certain requirements, such as:

  1. The participation in the U.S. must be that of a culturally unique program.
  2. There must be proof from the beneficiary’s country or around the world showing the credibility and authenticity of the performance as well as their knowledge of skills.
  3. The beneficiary must provide an itinerary showing the dates and locations of the performances they will be doing in the U.S.

Spouse and unmarried children under 21 of a P-3 artist or entertainer can seek admission under P-4 status.

TN, Trade NAFTA Visa

A TN visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico who work in specific professional occupations the ability to work in the U.S. Under this visa. It allows both Canadians and Mexicans to remain in the U.S. and work as long as their job falls under one the NAFTA professions. The validity period ranges from 1 to 3 years and can be renewed for unlimited time. Spouses and children are allowed to join the TN Visa applicant. The children are able to attend school, but the spouses are not allowed to work.

TN Visa must meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Proof of your Canadian or Mexican citizenship
  • Qualifications to practice, such as a bachelor’s, license, or the equivalent in experience
  • The job falls under the list of 60 NAFTA professions such as:
    • Accountant – Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.PA, C.A., C.G.A, or C.M.A
    • Architect – Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
    • Dentist –D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental or state/provincial license.
    • Engineer – Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
    • Graphic Designer – Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate and three year’s experience
    • Lawyer – L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., or Licenciatura degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar
    • Psychologist –state/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
    • Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution) – Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
    • Social Worker – Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

O-1 Extraordinary Ability Work Visa

Businesses may hire foreign employees with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics” to come work temporarily in the United States. A genetic engineer who has written extensively on modified food or an Olympic athlete who has won multiple medals in their respective sport are examples of qualified applicants for the O-1 Visa.

Although it is technically classified as an employment visa, the Extraordinary Ability Visa is not tied to a job, but to an individual. Successful applicants are truly unique individuals that have a world-class mastery in a particular field.

The applicant must show “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” To demonstrate “extraordinary ability” an applicant must either have won a top-tier award, such as a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, Oscar, or Olympic Medal, or provide 3 of the 10 items below:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  • Evidence of membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  • Evidence of published material about the individual in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Evidence that he or she has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
  • Evidence of his or her original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field.
  • Evidence of his or her authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Evidence that his or her work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Evidence of his or her performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
  • Evidence that he or she commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  • Evidence of his or her commercial successes in the performing arts.

The O-1 Visa is granted for an initial stay of three years; however, the Visa may be extended in one-year increments for the duration of the foreign employee’s work in the United States. Unlike most temporary nonimmigrant visas, there is no maximum length of stay in the U.S. for holders of the O-1 Visa.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa

Exchange visitor (J) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. The Visa gives international applicants looking to gain experience in the United States the opportunity to teach, research, study, train, or demonstrate special skills.  However, some exchange visitors are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement whereby you must return home for at least two years after your exchange visitor program ends.  There are waivers in some instances.  Please contact our firm to assist you.

Categories of J-1 Visa Jobs/Positions:

  • Au Pair and Educare
  • Camp Counselor
  • Government Visitor
  • Intern
  • International Visitor (Dept. of State use)
  • Physician
  • Professor and Research Scholar
  • Short-term Scholar
  • Specialist
  • Student, college/university
  • Student, Secondary
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Teacher
  • Trainee

I-9 Compliance Assistance

The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires that all U.S. employers verify the identity and eligibility of all workers, whether they are American citizens or not, by completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.  An employer must retain these forms for all employees either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.

At any time, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, and/or the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practice of the Department of Justice may request all I-9’s on file for any given U.S. employer. During review, if errors are found in the I-9 documentation, or forms are missing, or if it is discovered that an employer “knowingly” continued to employ an unauthorized worker, the employer may be subject to serious penalties.

In recent years, the Department of Homeland Security has increasingly targeted the workplace as a way to keep an eye on foreign nationals. The civil fines for paperwork violations can be hefty, with a single Form I-9 error costing as much as $1,100 per employee. The number of criminal prosecutions of employers found to be in violation of I-9 employment eligibility verification has also risen steadily over the past few years. With stricter enforcement efforts, it is important that you consult an immigration attorney who can provide your business with I-9 compliance assistance.

Our attorneys can protect you and your employees in the following ways:

  • Develop and maintain an I-9 compliance plan for your business
  • Perform an internal audit of all I-9 forms to ensure that your business has the ability to promptly comply with an audit from the governmental agencies listed above
  • Correct any errors found on your employees’ I-9 paperwork
  • Train your staff on I-9 procedures and verification
  • Prepare your I-9 documentation for audits from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and/or the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practice of the Department of Justice

Why Choose Zepeda Law Firm

It is critical to remember that each of these temporary employment visa categories has specific requirements and complex criteria that must be met. An attorney experienced in immigration law can assist applicants in preparing and submitting their applications. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the accompanying rights to these temporary employment visas and to seek help if you or someone you know has encountered violations or abuses​​​​​​​. Once you have a consultation with Zepeda Law Firm, we are confident that you will be convinced that you have come to the right place for your immigration law needs. Our firm prides itself on crafting strategies carefully to suit your particular case, and we will offer constant legal, as well as moral support to you, and your family if they are involved as well. Contact Zepeda Law Firm today for your initial complimentary consultation.