What You Need to Know Before Coming to the U.S. to Work

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Each year millions of people come to the United States to work. But before you arrive in the United States to begin employment, there are several things that you need to know. The Chicago employment-based immigration lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group are dedicated to helping foreign nationals obtain the appropriate work visas and other immigration documents.

In order to enter the U.S. to work, most foreign nationals must first obtain a visa to enter the country – either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary states or an immigrant visa (green card) to live and work in the U.S. permanently. The following summarizes some of the most commonly-issued temporary work visas:

  1. L-1 visa for intra-company transfers. Generally, an applicant must have worked abroad as an executive, manager or specialized employee for at least one continuous year within the previous three year period in order to qualify for the L-1 intra-company transfer visa.
  2. H-1 visa for specialty occupations. Foreign workers who are employed by U.S. companies in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers, may qualify for an H-1B visa. The H-1B visa is subject to strict quota caps, however, so it is highly recommended that H-1B visa applicants submit their petition on April 1, 2014 when the application period opens.
  3. TN visas for residents of Canada and Mexico. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), TN work visa status is available for Canadian and Mexican citizens who will enter the U.S. to be engaged in activities at a professional level, which is generally defined as a job that requires at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials. Unlike other visas, there are no caps on the number of TN visas that can be issued each year.
  4. E visas for business investors. An E-1 or E-1 visa is available for traders and investors who are citizens of countries with which the U.S. has a treaty of trade and commerce. The EB-5 investor visa is available for foreign nationals who invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise, or $500,000 in a regional center. In order to qualify, the commercial enterprise that receives the investment funds must have been established after November 29, 1990 and must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission into the United States.
  5. O visa for workers with extraordinary ability. The O visa enables people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or the motion picture and television industry to enter the U.S. for temporary periods of time.

In most cases, prior to filing an employment-based immigrant visa application on the employee’s behalf, employers must receive approval of a Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification.