Work Visas

Below is a list of common work visas:

H1B Visa:  The H1B visa is a work permit allowing U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.  A “specialty occupation” includes, but is not limited to accounting, arts, architecture, biotechnology, business specialties, education, engineering, law, mathematics, medicine and health, physical sciences, social sciences, and theology.  This visa can be granted for a maximum period of six years with the option to be extended indefinitely if a Labor Certification Application has been filed on behalf of the foreign worker before the expiry of the fifth year of the H1B visa.  The number of new H1Bs issued each year in the U.S. is subject to an annual congressionally mandated quota, which is currently 65,000 H1B visas per year.  All H1B visa holders are allowed to bring their immediate family members (spouse and children under 21) into the U.S. under the H4 visa dependent category.

L1 Visa:  An L1 visa is granted to foreign workers who are entering the U.S. to work for the same employer, its affiliate or subsidiary that he or she had worked for in his or her home country.  The foreign worker must have been employed for one year of the past three years by the parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the U.S. company prior to filing the L1 application.  In order to receive an L1 visa, the foreign worker must prove that he or she has specialized knowledge that is required for the job (L1B) or that he or she is an executive or manager of the company (L1A).

E1/E2 Visa The E visa is given to individuals who are either entering the U.S. for the purpose of trade (E1 treaty trade) or who are from an investor country (E2 treaty investor). The E1 visa is for individuals from countries with which the U.S. has a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation and who are coming to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and their home country.  The E1 visa employee must hold a supervisory or executive position or have skills which are essential to the successful operation of the enterprise.  The E2 visa is available to individuals who have made a substantial investment in a U.S. company and come from a country which has bilateral investment, commerce, and navigation treaties with the U.S.  The E2 visa holder must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the business operations of that company.

O-1 Visa The O1 visa is granted to individuals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (O1A visa), or extraordinary ability in the arts, motion picture, or television industry (O1B visa).  A U.S. employer must employ the individual in his or her area of extraordinary ability.

TN Visa:  A TN visa is granted specifically to Canadian and Mexican citizens who are coming to the U.S. to engage in professional activities.  A “professional activity” is defined by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as requiring “at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional.”  TN applicants must prove their intent not to immigrate.

J-1 Visa:  This visa permits foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to gain exposure to U.S. business culture and to receive training in their chosen field.  To qualify for the J-1 Trainee visa, the foreign national must have a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior foreign work experience in his or her field; or at least five years of prior foreign work experience in the field in which they are seeking training.  To qualify for the  J-1 Internship visa, the foreign national must be currently enrolled in and pursuing studies at a foreign degree- or certificate-granting post-secondary academic institution; or have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to their training program start date.