Frequently Asked Questions
Working in the USA
Aside from a B1 visa, what are my options to stay longer in the USA?
In order of popularity, ease, and cost:
L-1 Multi-National Transfer Visa
An L-1 Visa enables foreign companies to transfer executive, managerial or specialist-knowledge employees to a US subsidiary, affiliate, or branch who have been employed at the foreign company for at least one year. If the foreign company wishes to open a new US branch, affiliate, or subsidiary, immigration laws allow for the transfer of one managerial or executive employee to open and manage the new US entity through the initial start-up phase.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
An E-1 visa holder is only allowed to work in the activity for which they were approved for when the visa was issued. To qualify for an E-1 visa, you must be a citizen of a country which maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the USA. An E-1 visa holder is required to create significant value for their company with regards to the legal trading of goods, services, and banking. There is no set limit to the amount of trade that must take place, although the USA puts a greater emphasis on the number of transactions over total value of the actual trade. An E-1 visa also covers immediate family members (legal spouse and unmarried children under 21). The spouse of the visa holder is permitted to work, but the children are not. The E-1 visa is valid for two years. However, if you meet your visa qualifications, you can prolong your stay with unlimited two year status extensions or five year visa extensions.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
The E-2 visa allows you to travel in and out of the USA, and work legally in the business that is your primary “investment vehicle.” The E-2 also allows you to bring over your spouse and any dependents (children) under 21. More countries are qualified under treaties for E-2 investment visa compared to E-1 visas. E-2 visa holders must have control over the money that’s being invested in the US business and arrive in the US with the specific goal of developing the business in question. Both E-1 and E-2 visas allow employees who are considered essential for trading and investment. E-2 applicants are expected to create more income than is needed to sustain themselves and their families. E-1 visas do not list this as a requirement. E-2 visas are valid for a period of five years and can be renewed with two-year extensions as long as you maintain the necessary qualifications. As it stands, there are no limits on the number of extensions you can take.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to hire and employ workers from specialized fields such as finance, accounting, IT, engineering, medicine, science, architecture, etc. Holders of H-1B visas are required to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or a foreign equivalent. The degree requirement for the job is typical for the job, though applicants can bypass this requirement if they have at least 12 years of specialized work experience. The visa applicant must work in a field that requires a professional in a specialty occupation, and applicants must have intricate knowledge in the required field of employment. One final caveat is that the applicant’s employer must demonstrate the lack of qualified US applicants for the position. An H-1B visa is valid for three years, but can be extended to up to six years. Some visa holders are allowed to extend the visa for up to 10 years depending on their work expertise.
EB-5 Job Creation Visa or Permanent Residency Visa
The EB-5 visa is a very expensive option for investors. The basic requirements to get an EB-5 visa are that you must invest at least $1,800,000 in a USA business and create 10 jobs for US workers over 2 years. Based on your investment, you are eligible for a green card for yourself, your spouse, and your unmarried children under 21 years old. This amount can be reduced by half ($900,000) if you invest in a business that is located in a targeted employment area (TEA). Areas that qualify as TEA areas are any areas with high unemployment. In short, if you’re rich, the EB-5 is the way to go. EB-5 visa holders are allowed to apply for US citizenship 90 days prior to their five year visa anniversary.