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Employment-based Temporary Visas

H-1B Specialty Occupation Worker Visas
H-1B visas are designed for foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. for a temporary period to engage in employment in a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation is one requiring the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and one which requires the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the U.S.

H-1B visas are generally granted for three-years at a time and are renewable for a total of six years (unless a permanent residence case is in progress in which case additional extensions beyond six-years may be obtained). Employers must first file a petition with USCIS and once approved, the foreign national may obtain a visa at a U.S. consulate.

H-1B1 Specialty Occupation Workers (Nationals of Chile and Singapore)
The H-1B1 is almost identical to the H-1B visa, but it is only available to nationals of Chile and Singapore pursuant to bilateral trade agreements with those countries. There is a special reserve of H-1B1 visas set aside for nationals of these countries.  

E-3 Australian Special Occupation Visa
The E-3 is also identical to the H-1B in terms of its requirements, but is only available for Australian nationals. E-3 visas are issued for two years at a time and are indefinitely renewable, although dual intent (the intent to enter as a nonimmigrant and the intent to obtain permanent residence at the same time) is not permitted.

TN Professional Visas (Pursuant to NAFTA)
The TN category was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The TN is similar to the H-1B in terms of its requirements, although it is only available to foreign nationals from Canada and Mexico who are engaged in specific professions.

Other differences between the TN and the H-1B visa categories are: TNs can be obtained directly at the border (for Canadians) and from a consulate (for Mexicans) without having to file a petition with USCIS first, and TNs are not permitted to have dual intent (the intent to enter as a nonimmigrant and the intent to obtain permanent residence at the same time). TNs are generally granted for three-years at a time and are renewable indefinitely.

O-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
The O-1 visa is available for persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. The O-1 may be granted up to 3 years stay initially, with the ability to seek indefinite extensions in one-year increments. O-2 visas are available for persons accompanying and assisting an O-1 artist or athlete for a specific event or events.

L-1 Intra-company Transferee Visas
L-1 visas are available to permit the temporary exchange of personnel by international companies or organizations. Foreign nationals must show that they have been employed abroad by a foreign firm in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity for at least one year during the previous three years and that they will be employed by a legally related U.S. company in one of the above-mentioned capacities in the U.S.

L-1 visas are generally granted for an initial period of three-years and can be renewed for one or two additional two-year periods depending on whether the foreign national is employed in the specialized knowledge capacity or as a manager/executive.  

E-1 Treaty Trader/E-2 Treaty Investor Visas
The purpose of E visa is to enhance or facilitate economic and commercial interaction between the U.S. and certain countries that have entered into commerce and navigation or bilateral investment treaties with the U.S. Foreign nationals from such countries may enter the U.S. to carry on substantial trade or to develop and manage capital investments.

E visa holders may apply for E status directly at the consulate and may remain in the U.S. indefinitely as long as the qualifying investments or trade continues.  

B-1 Business Visitor Visas
The purpose of the B-1 visa is to permit foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for short business trips that do not constitute employment. B-1 visas are available for foreign nationals who intend to enter the U.S. temporarily to engage in business activities and to return to their foreign residence thereafter.

B-1 visitors may apply for their visas directly at the consulate. At the port-of-entry, they are generally given no more than six months to remain in the U.S.

Dependents of Nonimmigrant Workers
Dependents (spouses or unmarried children under age 21) are generally permitted to accompany the principal nonimmigrant worker. Spouses of Ls, Es, Os, and E-3s may work in the United States once authorized to do so by USCIS. Dependents of Hs, TNs, and Bs may not work in the United States.