Types of Visas
There are two (2) types of visas: (1) immigrant visas (for individuals who wish to become legal permanent residents of the US; and (2) non-immigrant visas (for individuals who intend to come to the US for a limited time, generally for employment purposes, and then to return to their home country).
An individual who is legally in the US as a non-immigrant can change or adjust his/her visa to an immigrant visa if: (a) that person did not have the intent to immigrate at the time they entered de US as a non-immigrant; and (b) that person meets the requirements for the immigrant visa they are seeking.
The most common types of non-immigrant visas are:
- “A or B” – 1 or 2 “Tourist Visa” – These visas can generally be gotten at local consulates without the assistance of an attorney. If, after coming to the US on a Tourist Visa, a client wishes to remain in the US, and most likely be able to extend his/her “B” visa.Alternatively, be able to adjust his/her status to another visa with longer duration.
- An “E” Visa – “E” visa can be used to conduct trade between the US and countries with which the US has treaty (an E-1 Visa “Treaty Trader Visa”), or to oversee the investment of money in the US from a treaty country (an E-2 Visa “Treaty Investor Visa”). A treaty must exist between the US and the country of the person seeking an “E” visa. An E-1 visa should be considered if a foreign national wishes to come to the US to set up a company to engage in substantial trade between the US and the foreign national’s country. An E-2 visa should be considered if a foreign national wishes to come to the US to invest.
- An “H-1B” Visa is appropriate if you have a client with a college degree or equivalent experience (three years of work experience equals 1 year of college) in a “specialty occupation” or, in other words, an occupation requiring a specialized body of knowledge. To be eligible for an H-1B, a US employer must be willing to sponsor/employ the client.
- An “L” Visa allows foreign companies to transfer employees temporarily to the US in order to aid or initiate operations in the US. The person(s) being transferred to the US must have been employed by the foreign company for at least one (1) year within the last three (3) years, and must have been employed in a managerial or executive capacity. If a client who owns a business in another country and wants to start a business (or purchase an existing business) in the US and “transfer” himself to the US to run that business, the “L” visa should be considered.
- An “EB-5” Visa would generally be available to national who marries a US citizen or to a foreign national who has an immediate relative who is a US citizen. Additionally, in some instances a US employer can sponsor a foreign national for legal residence.
Finally, an individual can sponsor him/herself for legal permanent residence if their residence is deemed to be in the national interest of the United States. The following factors are considered by INS to determine if an individual is eligible for a National Interest Waiver:
- Will he or she help to improve the economy?
- Will he or she help to improve wages and working conditions for American workers?
- Will he or she help to improve education and training programs for Americans?
- Will he or she help to improve healthcare?
- Will he or she help to provide more affordable housing for Americans?
- Will he or she help to improve the environment? or
- Has he or she obtained a request for assistance from an interested U.S. government agency?
National interest waivers are broadly applicable and should be considered for research scientists, home builders, business leaders, healthcare specialists etc.