H-1B Specialty Occupation
The H-1B classification permits a foreign national to work in the United States for a temporary period of up to six years (visa issued in increments of up to three years). It is available for offers of U.S. employment that are in a specialty occupation. H-1B visas are numerically limited every year (referred to as the H-1B CAP). The H-1B application period begins on April 1st of each year and an approved application is valid from October 1st that year when employment can begin.
- The employee must have a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience.
- The employer must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor before filing the H-1B petition with the USCIS.
- The employer must confirm that the employee will be paid the minimum prevailing wage rate (obtained through U.S. Department of Labor approved wage surveys in order to ensure that employers pay foreign employees similar wages as U.S. citizen/Permanent Resident workers).
- An employee who was presently employed under the H-1B status may utilize the portability provisions of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act to transition their H-1B to a different employer.
- The employee’s dependents (spouse and minor children) are authorized to live in the United States, and to study, but are not permitted to work.
L-1 Intracompany Transfer
The L-1 classification permits a U.S. company to temporarily transfer certain employees from an affiliated foreign company (such as parent, branch, subsidiary). The employee must be offered employment in either an executive/managerial position (L-1A), or in a specialized knowledge position (L-1B). Certain organizations may be eligible to file blanket L-1 petition with the USCIS, rather than filing individual petitions for each potential employee.
- The U.S. employer filing the petition must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company employer. Qualifying relationships include parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate.
- The transferred employee must have been employed by the foreign company employer for at least one continuous year within the three years prior to coming to the United States.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1 classification is for individuals who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. The O classification includes the following subcategories:
(1) O-1A for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry); (2) O-1B for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry; and,
(3) O-2 for individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance.
- A consultation, which is a written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability. Some exceptions to this requirement apply when the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group doesn’t exist.
- A contract between petitioner (employer) and beneficiary (worker) must exist. This may be in the form of a summary of terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
- An itinerary must be provided explaining the nature and dates of the events along with any applicable specifics.
P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete
The P-1 classification applies to applicants coming to the United States temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
- The applicant must participate in an individual event, competition or performance in which the applicant is internationally recognized with a high level of achievement.
- The applicant must have achieved significant international recognition in the sport.
P-1B Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
The P-1B classification is for applicants coming to the United States temporarily to perform as members of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time.
- At least 75% of the members of the group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year.
- The entertainment group must be internationally recognized, having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered.
- Individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa classification.
P-2 Individual Performer/Group Member Performing Under Reciprocal Exchange Program
The P-2 classification is for applicants coming to the United States temporarily to perform as artists/entertainers, individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country.
- The applicant/artist must enter the United States through a government recognized reciprocal exchange program.
- The applicant/artist must possess skills comparable to those of the artists and entertainers taking part in the program outside the United States.
P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program
The P-3 classification is for applicants coming temporarily to the United States to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique.
- The applicant must be coming to the United States either individually or as a group for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation.
- The applicant must be coming to the United States to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of the artist’s art form. The program may be of a commercial or noncommercial nature.
R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Worker
The R-1 classification is for a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week). The employer can be (1) a non-profit religious organization in the United States; (2) a religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or (3) a non-profit religious organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.
- This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion.
- The applicant must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.
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