Employment-based Nonimmigrant Visas

Introduction

Sometimes permanent residence in the U.S. isn’t the right fit.  Our clients often want only to dip their toes in the U.S. labor market, or avoid permanent resident taxation, or them might just have been born in countries with severe backlogs in green card issuance.  At Abrams & Abrams, we assist those employers and individuals with the entire alphabet soup of employer-sponsored or employment-related nonimmigrant visas: B, D, E, H, I, J, L, O, P, Q, R, and TN.  The most common in our practice are E-2 treaty trader and treaty investor visas, H-1B temporary workers in specialty occupations, L-1 multinational managers and executives, and O-1s for persons of extraordinary ability.  But we’ve done them all.

Each nonimmigrant application or petition requires research, planning, and execution, now more than ever.  With our multiple decades of experience preparing and filing them, we have weathered every storm.  Our system, in which each application or petition goes through multiple levels of review and our attorneys brainstorm before filing, has been the source of our success.  

In 2019, we have successfully obtained nonimmigrant status for, among many others, journalists and comedy writers (O-1), a consultant to tech startups (O-1), several restaurants (E-2), many engineers (H-1B), musicians (P-3), and a priest (R-1). 

  • [They] call this minefield of onerous paperwork an “invisible wall,” designed to make legal immigration as difficult as possible. ProPublica, September 11, 2018

Categories

Certainly the most common are the ubiquitous H-1B petitions for specialty occupation workers, but this category also covers H-1B1 filings for Chilean and Singaporean citizens, and temporary and seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural workers.  We recently have many inquiries from H-2A and H-2B employers seeking means of obtaining permanent residence for their H-2A and H-2B workers.

Foreign businesses seeking to transfer executives, managers, or individuals with specialized knowledge to related U.S. entities (even brand new ones) will look first to L-1 visas.  In recent years, the definitions of “executive” and “manager” have become a moving target, adding difficulty to the L-1 process.

E-1 and E-2 visas are for qualifying traders or investors who are nationals of countries which have entered into a treaty with the U.S.  Naturally, certain thresholds relating to substantial trade or investment must be met in order to qualify. 

This category also covers employees who are nationals of the same country as the qualifying trader or investor, coming to the U.S. to fill executive or supervisory roles, or with essential skills. At Abrams & Abrams we represent a major European watchmaker which routinely brings its essential skills workers to the U.S.

Lastly, though technically “treaty” visas, the excellent E-3 visa is quite different.  It permits Australian citizens to work in specialty occupations, similar to an H-1B but with less challenge from the government.

Soon to be replaced by USMCA, but retaining the immigration provisions of NAFTA, this category includes temporary visas for Canadian and Mexican professionals.  TNs require the professionals to enter the U.S. to work in one of the listed professions.  At Abrams & Abrams, we obtain TN status for many of the professions, including not only engineers and lawyers, but some of the more difficult fields like scientific technicians and management consultants.

Visitors: by nature they can’t work, but we encourage all applicants to know what activities are permissible on a B-1 business visitor visa (or ESTA for those from countries not requiring visas).  At Abrams & Abrams we routinely have clients gain admission to the U.S. at a port of entry by presenting CBP with their proposed activities in the U.S.  A little knowledge goes a long way; did you know that “looking for employment” is a valid B-1 purpose?  As long as, should you find it, you depart the U.S. and then obtain the proper work visa.

O-1s are for those who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, arts, business or athletics.  Some of their assistants are eligible to accompany them as O-2s. 

At Abrams & Abrams we are specialists in O-1s sponsored by self-owned entities.  An O-1 can’t sponsor his- or herself, but can usually form a company that can do just that!  This process permits the O-1 to work for multiple employers after approval of the petition.  

These visas are subject to a great deal of scrutiny and involve mandatory site visits at the places of worship, but are very gratifying to attorneys and their clients.  At Abrams & Abrams we have undertaken R-1 petitions for workers in several faiths.

In our practice we most commonly work on P-3 visas for performers in culturally unique art forms, but P visas are also available for athletes and even performers from countries with which we have a reciprocal labor union.  These last types, P-2s, are rare but are when applicable are excellent visas.

At Abrams & Abrams we’ve undertaken many P-3s and have researched various and obscure art forms.  A P-3 has to be an artist or performer, but doesn’t have to be coming to the U.S. to perform.  He or she can actually teach or coach.

Exchange Visitors are admitted to the U.S. to participate in international exchange programs.  There are various types, from visiting scholars to trainees and even au pairs who care for children in private homes.

At Abrams and Abrams we have assisted many host companies in designing their training plans and in liaising with the State Department’s sponsoring organizations.  We’ve even hosted our own J-1 exchange visitor.

This visa is one of our favorites at Abrams & Abrams, and in fact in recent years the State Department has even expanded its definition. I status is no longer only for credentialed journalists working in the U.S. for the foreign press, but even for freelance documentarians and travel bloggers. 

All I Media Representatives are admitted to the U.S. “D/S”, meaning they can stay as long as they like provided they continue working.

Crewmembers can be airline flight attendants, deckhands on some vessels, even cruise ship workers.  At Abrams & Abrams we assist these individuals in obtaining these visas, as well as in navigating the treacherous waters when they seek permanent residence (many are barred from doing so).

Another visa that is rarely used, but in certain situations is the only option.  With a Q-1, similar to a J-1, the organization filing has to create an exchange program, but this time the State Department is not involved.  Rather, the petitioner designs the program and sends it directly to USCIS (Department of Homeland Security).  

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