U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues up to about 140,000 immigrant visas and many more temporary worker visas to foreign nationals on the basis of employment or job skills. Some of these individuals may intend to settle in the United States and establish a new home. Other individuals may simply wish to come to the United States temporarily to pursue a business venture, job opportunity, or to oversee an investment. Typically individuals coming to the United States for employment-based immigration purposes find their most direct path to citizenship through the EB series of visas. Workers, investors, and others who wish to live and work in the United States only temporarily can typically have their needs met by a temporary worker visa.
Understanding your immigration goals is the first step in understanding the appropriate visa or visas for you. Selection of an appropriate visa can provide you both peace of mind and, potentially, some degree of flexibility in pursuing your goals.
Visas For Workers Intending to Immigrate to the United States
Workers who expect and intend to make the United States their permanent home are typically better served by the Visa preference categories reserved for permanent workers. Workers who are provided a pathway to citizenship in this fashion must typically undergo the labor certification process before their immigration petition . The labor certification process requires a job offer from a U.S. based employer who sponsors the immigrant. The labor certification process is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and ensures that there are insufficient U.S. workers available to fill the position and that the hiring of this foreign worker will not harm the working conditions or compensation of similar U.S. workers.
Once the labor certification process has been completed for the visa, if applicable, the immigration petition may be filed for the intending immigrant. For most visa types, the petition is filed by the employer although there are some limited circumstances where the intending immigrant may self-petition. The potential permanent worker visa preference categories are:
- EB-1 First Preference – This preference category does not require a labor certification, but it applies to only a relative few. The EB-1 preference is intended for immigrants possessing extraordinary ability in business, athletics, arts, education, or sciences. Distinguished professors and researches along with a multinational manager or business executive could potentially qualify under this category.
- EB-2 Second Preference – This category is intended for immigrants holding advanced degrees or other individuals with exceptional abilities. Unless a national interest waiver is obtained, labor certification is required.
- EB-3 Third Preference – Professionals, skilled workers, and some other non-seasonal workers can qualify for a visa under this category. Labor certification is required.
- EB-4 Fourth Preference – This category is reserved for an array of individuals the U.S. government considers “special immigrants.”
- EB-5 Fifth Preference – This preference level is also known as the immigrant investor program. Immigrants may invest in a new U.S. commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs to obtain a pathway to citizenship.
Temporary Visas for Workers not Intending to Make the United States Their Home
Individuals wishing to come to the United States to work on a temporary basis must be authorized to stay and work by the U.S. government. Typically, your employer must file a petition for a temporary worker visa on your behalf. Types of temporary worker visas include:
- E-1 visa for treaty traders
- E-2 visa for treaty investors
- E-3 visa for Australian professionals
- I visa for foreign press representatives and others
- L-1A visa intended for intercompany managerial transfers
- L-1B visa intended for intercompany specialized knowledge transfers
- O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, education, athletics, or business
- P-1A visa for internationally recognized athletes
- P1-B visa for internationally recognized entertainers or entertainment groups
- TN visa for NAFTA temporary professionals coming from Canada and Mexico
Temporary worker visas do not traditionally provide a pathway to citizenship so the immigrant must maintain the intent to leave the country at the expiration of the visa. However under some circumstances the concept of dual intent can allow the individual to simultaneously intend to leave the United States and pursue an opportunity for a green card should it arise.
Rely on Our Employment-Based Visa Experience
The experienced immigration attorneys of Colombo & Hurd are dedicated to providing strategic immigration solutions for businesses and individuals. To schedule a legal consultation to discuss your immigration concerns call our firm at 800-659-7142 or contact us online today.