Helping you hire the employees you need:
Non-immigrant visas

If you plan to hire staff who are not U.S. citizens, there are many applicable visa categories. We will advise you on the most suitable categories when we begin working with you. Here we have prepared a brief guide to the common non-immigrant visa categories.

United States Non-Immigrant Visas

B-1 (Business Visitor)

Key Points
  • Foreign National must demonstrate ties abroad (ie: employment abroad).
  • Foreign National must not be employed in productive capacity in the U.S.
  • No remuneration from U.S. source.
  • Examples of B visa purposes:
    • Conducting research for an enterprise in another country;
    • Completing commercial transactions for an enterprise in another country;
    • Engaging in market research for a foreign company looking to expand; or
    • Attending conventions and meetings to consult with business associates.
  • B-1 in lieu of H-1B: special version of B Visa that allows for productive work on short duration projects.
Time Limit Maximum of 6 months per entry.
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(b); 9 FAM 41.31

E-1/E-2 (Treaty Trade Investor)

Key Points
  • Underlying Treaty Agreement between U.S. and Nation of corporate’s nationality.
  • Business in U.S. must be at least 50% owned by Foreign National of Treaty Company.
  • Business in U.S. must demonstrate:
    • Substantial Trade with Foreign National’s country (E-1).
    • Substantial Investment in United States (E-2)
Time Limit Unlimited (issued in up to 5-year increments).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(e); 9 FAM 41.51

E-3 (Free Trade Worker)

Key Points
  • Foreign National is a citizen of Australia.
  • Specialty Occupation requiring a U.S. Baccalaureate Degree (or foreign equivalent).
  • Field of study must be related to intended position.
  • Wage must be set by requirements determined by the Department of Labor (prevailing wage).
  • 100% Non-Immigrant intent.
Cap Limit 10,500/year (Has never been reached).
Time Limit Unlimited increments of 2 years (as long as Non-Immigrant intent remains).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(e); 9 FAM 41.51

F-1 Optional Practical Training

Key Points
  • Completion of U.S. studies pursuant to valid F-1 status.
  • Intended position must be related to field of study.
  • Must obtain Employment Authorization Card (EAD) to commence employment.
Time Limit 12 months (allowed to obtain 17 month extension if Foreign National holds a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics [STEM] Degree AND employer is enrolled in E-Verify).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(f)(1); 9 FAM 41.61

H-1B (“Specialty” Professional Worker)

Key Points
  • Specialty Occupation requiring a U.S. Baccalaureate Degree (or foreign equivalent).
  • Field of study must be related to intended position.
  • Wage must be set by requirements determined by the Department of Labor (prevailing wage).
  • Cap Limit: 65,000/year (additional 20,000 for Foreign Nationals with U.S. Master’s Degree).
  • Expensive: $1,500 ACWIA Training Fee, $500 Fraud Fee, and $320 Base Fee.
  • H-1B Visa manifests “dual-intent” (while it is a non-immigrant visa, can still apply for permanent residency simultaneously).
Time Limit 6-Year Maximum (can acquire up to 3 years at a time); if in Permanent Residency process, there are means for exceeding this limit until permanent residency is reached.
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(h); 9 FAM 41.53

H-1B FTA

Key Points
  • Same as H-1B, except Foreign National is a citizen of Singapore or Chile and must also demonstrate 100% Non-immigrant intent.
  • Cap Limit: 1,400 (Chile), 5,400 (Singapore); set aside within the H-1B Cap Limit.
Time Limit Unlimited (issued in 18-month increments).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(h); 9 FAM 41.53

H-2B (Temporary Non-Agriculture Employees)

Key Points
  • Foreign National employed temporarily in one of four capacities: 1. Seasonal 2. Intermittent 3. Peak-load 4. One-time occurrence
  • Must acquire a “Temporary Labor Certification” from the Department of Labor and provide evidence that U.S. workers are in short supply within the designated industry.
  • Cap Limit: 33,000/half-year.
Time Limit 364 days (usually last less than 10 months), except if “1 time occurrence” (can request up to 3 years).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(h); 9 FAM 41.53

J-1 (Trainee/Exchange Visitor)

Key Points
  • Two Versions of J-1 Visa:
    1. J-1 Trainee: Foreign National must have completed a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution with at least one year of prior related work experience outside of the U.S. OR 5 years of qualifying experience.
    2. J-1 Intern: Foreign National must be currently enrolled in a post-secondary academic institution outside of the U.S., preferably studying in a related field, OR have graduated from such an institution no more than 12 months prior to start date.
  • Certain Training Programs require “2 year Residency Program” when J-visa ends.
  • Foreign National must not be employed in a productive capacity while on J-visa.
Time Limit J-1 Trainee: minimum of 6 weeks; maximum of 18 months.

J-1 Intern: minimum of 6 weeks; maximum of 12 months.

Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(j); 9 FAM 41.62

L-1A/L-1B (Intra Company Transferees)

Key Points
  • U.S. and Foreign entities must share a qualifying relationship (>50% common ownership).
  • Foreign National must have qualifying 1 year of employment with Foreign affiliate (w/in past 3 yrs).
  • L-1A: Intended position is Managerial or Executive in nature (fast path to permanent residency).
  • L-1B: Intended position requires Specialized Knowledge of company’s products, policies, and procedures.
  • L Visa manifests “dual-intent” (while it is a non-immigrant visa, can still apply for permanent residency while holding an L visa).
Time Limit L-1A: 7-Year Maximum (3-year initial period with 2-year extensions).

L-1B: 5-Year Maximum (3-year initial period with a 2-year extension).

Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(l); 9 FAM 41.54

O-1 (Extraordinary Ability Foreign Nationals)

Key Points
  • Professional has extraordinary credentials of “sustained national or international acclaim.”
  • Can self-petition through Agents.
  • Need discrete project or itinerary.
  • Lower threshold standard for artists as opposed to those in Science or Business industries, as well as Athletes.
Time Limit Unlimited (3-year initial period with 1-year extensions with same employer).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(o); 9 FAM 41.55

TN (NAFTA)

Key Points
  • Professional is a citizen of Mexico or Canada.
  • Intended Position is listed in the NAFTA Schedule (Limited – not every occupation will qualify).
  • 100% Non-Immigrant intent.
  • Canadians apply for admission at the border.
  • Mexicans apply for visa at U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
Time Limit Unlimited (available in 3 year increments).
Reference 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(s); 9 FAM 41.59