What are the different employee visa available to my business?

It can be argued that your business is only ever as good as the people who work for it. So, it is only natural that you will want to build the best team that you can to enable your business to scale and succeed.

If you haven’t originated from the U.S yourself, you may find that you are drawn to workers from your native country.

This could be because these workers have the skills that your business requires. Or they may fit in better with your businesses ethos and culture.

Whatever the reason, it is possible to employ citizens of foreign countries and they can come to the U.S in immigrant or non-immigrant visas.

Here is a summary of a few of the different types of U.S work visas that are available to foreign workers.

H1-B Speciality Work Visa

If you are looking to employ workers at a professional level that would normally require a bachelor’s degree or higher, then you will probably want to consider the H1-B Speciality Work visa.

The H1-B Speciality work visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows you to employ workers in roles that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as architecture, engineering, IT and finance.

If you have a potential employee in mind but they do not have a bachelor’s degree, you will have to be able to show a degree equivalence through other qualifications and/or work experience.

Individuals are not able to apply directly for this visa, so a company needs to petition for entry on behalf of the employee.

The H1-B Speciality Work visa is subject to a visa cap. Due to its popularity amongst employers, this can result in a lack of available visas – meaning your petition has a higher chance of being unsuccessful. For this reason, you may want to consider other types of visas as a back-up.

The H1-B can be transferred into a green card.

L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa

If your business has a base outside of the U.S., you can apply for a L-1 Intra-Company Transfer visa if you wish to transfer a current employee from that base to your U.S. one.

The U.S. L-1 visa is a non-immigration visa which allows overseas businesses to transfer their employees for up to five years into a new or existing U.S. office.

To qualify for the visa, your employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch of your business outside of the U.S. for at least one year.

Unlike the H1-B Speciality visa, the L-1 visa is not subject to a visa cap, so an unlimited number of L-1 visas can be issued. The downside of this visa is that a considerable amount of documentation will need to be filled for each visa petition.

The L-1 can be transferred into a green card.

E-2 Treaty Investor and E-1 Treaty Trader visas

The U.S. has signed treaties with various Countries across the world to promote trade and investment.

If your native country has signed one of these treaties, you may want to consider E-1 or E-2 visas. If you are unsure if your native country is included, you can find a list of countries here:

Under the E-2 or E-1 visas schemes, you will need to be able to show that your business is at least 50% owned by a national or nationals on the list of E-2 and E-1 countries. To hire employees under visa E-1 or E-2, your company will first need to obtain the E-1 or E-2 visa.

If your chosen employee is going to be joining you in an executive or management role, they will need to be able to demonstrate their executive or management experience. However, unlike the L-1 visa, they do not have to have worked for you previously.

If you want to employ native workers for specialist or skilled roles, then the visa may be harder to obtain. You will need to be able to demonstrate that:

•   A U.S. worker could not fill the position.
•   The employment of this worker is necessary of the running of your principle trade.
•   U.S. workers will be trained to replace your chosen worker and details of this training must be given.

While the criteria for the E-2 and E-1 visas are tighter than those for the H1-B and L-1 visas, there are benefits should the job role you wish to fill ticks the required boxes.

These visas are not subject to a visa cap and can usually be obtained far more cheaply and faster than the H1-B and L-1 visas. They can also be renewed as often as needed, meaning there is no cap of the time your employee can spend in the U.S.

If your employee’s visa petition is successful, their spouse can also obtain a visa and work in the U.S. Their children will also be able to join them, although this is restricted to study only.

J-1 Temporary Exchange Visitor Visa

If you are after seasonal staff, the J-1 Temporary Exchange visa will allow a foreign national to work, train or travel while experiencing life in the U.S.

The J-1 visa covers the Private, Academic and Government sectors but it is likely that the J-1 Visa Program for Interns may be the best fit for your business.

The purpose of the J-1 Intern category is to give foreign students and recent graduates the opportunity to develop their skills as well as obtaining an insight into businesses within the U.S.

You are only allowed to offer your potential worker an Internship; this cannot fill the role of a regular employee. Your intern is also forbidden to accept any form of employment outside of your internship.

Your intern must pay for their own air travel into and from the U.S., purchase adequate healthcare insurance and bring with them sufficient funds to cover their living expenses.

So, while the J-1 visa may not solve your employment needs, it could prove a useful alternative if you wish to give a native graduate some work experience within the U.S.

How can you get started?

Here a Nipren we specialize in helping foreign entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses, with services ranging from finance, to admin and human resources.

If you know that you would like to employ workers from your native country but are not sure where to start, we can help you to make sense of the different options available to you.

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