There are many different types of non-immigrant visas for those looking to have a temporary stay in the U.S. Feinbloom Bertisch can guide you through obtaining any of the visas described below.
B-1 / B-2 (Visitors): For brief visits to the U.S. involving business or pleasure for an initial stay of less than 180 days. Nationals of certain countries may be permitted to visit the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days.
E-1 / E-2 (Traders or Investors): For persons from certain countries that have a bilateral commerce treaty with the U.S. to visit for business purposes. Applicants for these visas may be employed in the U.S. for 2-year increments.
E-3 (Australian Professionals): A special classification for professionals from Australia seeking temporary employment in the U.S. to fill a position which requires a bachelor’s degree in a “specialty occupation” or its equivalent in work experience.
F / M (Students): For students entering the U.S. in order to engage in a full course of academic or vocational study at a school/institution approved by the U.S. Attorney General. Certain students may be eligible for employment authorization for practical training in their fields.
H-1B (Professionals): For workers with a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in work experience seeking temporary employment in the U.S. to fill a position which requires such a degree. H-1B visa applicants must demonstrate that they will be paid at or above the prevailing wage in the industry. The length of stay will correspond to the period of time required by the employer, but generally may not exceed 6 years (up to 3-year increments). Fashion models, foreign medical graduates and certain health-care workers may also qualify for H-1B classification.
H-2A / H-2B (Agricultural and Other Workers): For workers seeking to fill temporary positions as agricultural and other unskilled laborers. Applicants must demonstrate that both the job and term of employment are temporary, and that there is a shortage of U.S. workers to fill such a position.
H-3 (Trainees): For foreign employees of U.S. companies/institutions to visit the U.S. for a temporary period in order to participate in an established company training program.
I (Media Workers): For temporary visits by representatives of the foreign news media.
J (Exchange Visitors): For students, scholars, business or vocational trainees, specialists, foreign medical graduates, international visitors, government visitors, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs and others coming to the U.S. as an "exchange visitor" through a U.S. government-approved exchange program for the purpose of training, research or gaining experience in the field.
K-1 (Fiance): For fiancés of U.S. citizens who intend to marry within 90 days of admission to the U.S., and certain spouses of U.S. citizens who are awaiting processing of an immigrant visa.
L-1 (Multi-National Business Transferees): For executives, managers and specialized knowledge personnel being transferred to a U.S. office or affiliate of a foreign company. The length of stay will correspond to the period of time required by the employer, but may not exceed 7 years for executives or managers (up to 3-year increments) and 5 years for specialized-knowledge personnel.
O-1 / O-2 (Extraordinary Ability): For persons who can demonstrate "extraordinary ability" in the arts, sciences, business, education or athletics; and certain people accompanying or assisting such persons.
P-1 / P-2 / P-3 (Athletes, Entertainers & Artists): For athletes, entertainers and artists who are members of a group or team, part of a reciprocal international exchange, or performing in programs that are culturally unique.
R (Religious Workers): For visits of 5 years or less by qualified religious professionals or other religious workers.
TN (NAFTA): A special classification for professionals from Canada or Mexico seeking to enter the U.S. pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to engage in certain professional business activities.
T / U (Trafficking or Crime Victims): For victims of human trafficking or certain other crimes who have cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
Spouses and children of persons who qualify under any of the above categories may also be admitted to the United States. Numerous other non-immigrant visa classifications exist and we recommended that individuals interested in coming to, or remaining in, the United States on a temporary basis consult with a qualified U.S. immigration attorney prior to departure or expiration of status.
IMMIGRANT - FAMILY BASED
Parents, spouses, children and certain other relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents may obtain permanent residency ("green cards") in the U.S.
“Immediate Relatives” of U.S. Citizens: Parents, spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of United States citizens may obtain lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. (a "Green Card") through the filing of a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) by their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative. These "immediate relatives" are not subject to automatic waiting periods and may obtain their Green Cards once processing of the required paperwork is complete.
Other Relatives: Certain other relatives of U.S. citizens who cannot be classified as “immediate relatives” as well as certain relatives of lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) are subject to limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year and are thus categorized into the preference classifications listed below. Such relatives will encounter processing delays corresponding to the “priority date” (i.e., date on which the relative petition is filed) and the particular preference category to which the relative belongs. Higher preference classification typically entails less delay.
1st Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters (over age 21) of U.S. citizens.
2nd Preference (2A): Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of lawful permanent residents.
2nd Preference (2B): Unmarried sons and daughters (over age 21) of lawful permanent residents.
3rd Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
4th Preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
Relatives who cannot be classified within the above preference categories are not eligible for family-based immigrant visas to permanently reside in the U.S.
IMMIGRANT - EMPLOYMENT BASED
Through an offer of employment by a U.S. sponsor, certain workers may obtain permanent residency ("green cards") in the U.S.
Aside from close family ties to a United States citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR), the most common way to obtain permanent residency (a “Green Card”) in the U.S. is through an offer of employment by a U.S. sponsor. Often a complex and time-consuming process, permanent resident status may be secured by individuals who fall into three basic employment-related classifications, also denoted by preference category, as explained below.
First Employment-Based Preference (“Priority workers”)
Multi-National Managers and Executives subject to international transfer to an affiliate U.S. office who have worked in a managerial or executive capacity for the overseas entity for at least 1 year within the 3-year period immediately preceding the proposed admission to the U.S. This category closely parallels the L-1 non-immigrant classification discussed in section I (above).
Outstanding Professors and Researchers from qualifying universities or private employers with established research departments.
Individuals with “Extraordinary Ability” in the Arts, Sciences, Education, Business or Athletics. This category parallels the O-1 non-immigrant classification discussed in section I (above), but is unique in that no offer of employment is required and qualifying individuals may “self-petition” USCIS for permanent resident status. No labor certification is required under the first employment-based preference category, which typically lessens the processing time and expense of these applications.
Second Employment-Based Preference
Individuals with “Exceptional Ability” in the Arts, Sciences or Business.
Advanced-Degree Professionals. A labor certification (as well as a job offer) is required under the second employment-based preference category, unless it is waived by USCIS in accordance with the “national interest” of the U.S.
Third Employment-Based Preference
Professionals with a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
Skilled Workers filling positions requiring at least two years of training and/or experience in the field.
Unskilled Workers, although not all such workers are eligible for immigrant classification. A labor certification (as well as a job offer) is always required under the third employment-based preference category. Individuals hoping to qualify in one of these categories are often subject to long and uncertain application periods before a labor certification is approved, immigrant classification is granted, and a visa is issued.
CITIZENSHIP & NATURALIZATION
Qualifying persons 18 years or older who have been lawful permanent residents of the U.S. for 4 years and 9 months (or 2 years and 9 months) may file for naturalization.
Qualifying persons 18 years or older who have been lawful permanent residents of the U.S. (LPRs) for a continuous 4 years and 9 months may file for naturalization. If married to and living with a U.S. citizen (USC), the LPR may file for naturalization after 2 years and 9 months of continuous residence in the U.S., so long as the spouse has been a USC for at least 2 years and 9 months. Continuous physical presence in the U.S. must be established, as well as good moral character, loyalty to the U.S. and proficiency in U.S. government, history and language. Certain of these criteria may be waived for elderly applicants or those who served honorably in the U.S. military during a time of war.
POLITICAL ASYLUM / REFUGEE
If unable to return to your home country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, you may qualify for asylum or refugee status.
A refugee or asylee is a person outside his/her home country who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. For persons who are physically present in the U.S., the application must typically be filed within one year of arrival.
If you are in deportation or removal proceedings, or wish to challenge a decision by USCIS, an Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals, you are encouraged to immediately seek the assistance of qualified immigration counsel.
Certain petitions/applications, if denied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and certain decisions by an Immigration Judge and/or the Board of Immigration Appeals, may be appealed in federal court. Because the law limits the time within which you may seek to challenge these decisions, you are encouraged to immediately seek the assistance of qualified immigration counsel if this applies to you.