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Visa Categories for your Foreign Employees

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Firm News

Hiring foreign nationals can be an excellent choice for companies in the United States. With today’s technology and norms, it is easier than ever to ensure that vacant positions are filled by excellent candidates, no matter where that candidate was born.

However, few companies understand their options completely when it comes to hiring foreign nationals. The term “work visa” is commonly used to describe the sponsorship of foreign nationals for employment within the United States, but this phrase could refer to any number of employment-based visas, and wouldn’t describe any of them very accurately.

So, how can a foreign national obtain the right status to work in the United States?

The list below includes many distinct immigration classifications, all of which are considered “non-immigrant.” This means that each classification is only temporary in nature, and will never allow the individual to acquire a green card on the basis of this classification alone.

Read on to discover just how many temporary visa classifications are available in the world of employment-based immigration.

Nonimmigrant, Employment-Based Visa Classifications At a Glance

  • B-1 Visas
    • While the B-2 visa is for tourism only, B-1 visas permit holders to engage in business activities like conferences, trainings, meetings, and other legitimate activities of a professional nature.
  • D-Visas
    • Crewmembers working on sea vessels or airplanes travelling internationally may use D-visas to enter the United States if they will depart the United States by vessel within 29 days.
  • E-Visas
    • E-visas are only available to nationals from countries with which the United States has an international trade treaty. E-1 visas are for Traders and E-2 visas are for Investors. E-1 Traders must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, and E-2 Investors must be coming to develop and direct a company into which the individual has made a substantial investment.
  • CPT and OPT (F-1 Visas)
    • While international students holding F-1 status cannot work based on their F-1 status alone, they may be permitted to engage in certain employment if it relates to their program of study. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) takes place during the student’s course of study as an integral part of the school’s curriculum. Optional Practical Training (OPT) takes place after the student’s course of study is complete.
  • H-1 Visas
    • H-1 visas are for specialized workers who hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and who are coming to the United States to fill a position which requires a Bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent).
  • H-2 Visas
    • H-2 visas are for seasonal or temporary workers who are coming to the United States to fill positions for which there are no available United States-based workers.
  • H-3 Visas
    • H-3 visas are available for trainees who are coming to the United States to participate in a training program which will benefit their employment outside the United States. H-3 visas are also available for participants in certain training programs which provide practical training and experience in special education for children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
  • I-Visas
    • The I-visa is for press representatives of foreign media companies including print media, film, and radio.
  • J-Visas
    • J-visas are for participants in exchange visitor programs including study and exchange programs, internship programs, camp counselor programs, au pair programs, and others. In some cases, physicians, researchers, teachers, and other specialists may qualify.
  • L-Visas
    • L-visas are for intracompany transfers. When a United States company has a qualifying affiliate or subsidiary relationship with a foreign company, the foreign company may send its employees to work at the United States company for a fixed period of time. The L-1A visa is for executives and managers, and the L-1B visa is for employees with specialized knowledge.
  • M-Visa
    • Like the F-1 visa, the M-1 visa is for international students. While F-1 students are engaged in academic programs, M-1 students are engaged in vocational programs or other nonacademic programs (with the exception of language training).
  • O-Visas
    • O-visas are for those who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field and have secured a job offer in the United States.
  • P-Visas
    • P-visas are for athletes and coaches entering the United States to participate in a specific competition. This includes internationally recognized athletes and teams, professional athletes, athletes or coaches in foreign leagues.
  • A-Visas
    • A-visas are for diplomats and certain government officials and their families and/or employees.
  • R-Visas
    • R-visas are for ministers and other religious workers who are coming to the United States to perform their religious vocations or occupations.
  • TN Visas
    • TN visas were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and are available to Canadian and Mexican nationals. TN visa holders are only available to qualified members of certain professions who have job offers in the United States.

If you need guidance in determining whether one of these visa classifications may work for you or your employee, David Hirson & Partners, LLP is here to help. We offer free consultations to discuss any and all possible immigration pathways for you and your goals.

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