Business travelers may enter the United States using a B1, or ‘Visitor for Business’ Visa. In practice these visas are invariably issued as jointly with B2, or ‘Visitor for Pleasure’ (i.e. Tourist) visa. In order to qualify for a B-1 visa an applicant must:
- Have a residence in a foreign country, which they do not intend to abandon;
- Intend to enter the United States for a period of specifically limited duration; and
- Seek admission for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate activities relating to business.
Although “temporary” is not specifically defined by either statute or regulation, it generally signifies a limited period of stay. The fact that the period of stay in a given case may exceed six months or a year is not in itself controlling, provided that the adjudicating officer is satisfied that the intended stay actually has a time limitation and is not indefinite in nature. The applicant must also have specific and realistic plans for the entire period of their contemplated stay.
The E-1 treaty trader visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals of a treaty nation to enter into the U.S. and carry out substantial trade. A treaty trader belongs to a nation that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral agreement with the U.S. Trade includes commercial transactions in goods and trade in services and technology like banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology transfer and other measurable services which may be traded.
The E-2 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa which allows an alien, who is a national of a country which the U.S. has a treaty of commerce and navigation with, to qualify as a “treaty investor” to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested a substantial amount of capital. This visa is applied for at a U.S. consulate, and if approved is initially valid for 2 years. Additional two-year extensions are unlimited as long as the alien continues to manage and maintain a controlling interest in the enterprise in which he or she has invested. The basic requirements for this visa are listed below:
1) The alien must have invested or be actively in the process of investing capital
2) There must be an active investment in a real commercial undertaking producing goods or services
3) The investor must be coming to the U.S. solely to develop and direct the operation of the enterprise
4) The investment must be substantial
5) The enterprise must be more than “marginal”
The O-1 visa is a temporary work visa available to those foreign nationals who have “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics” which “have been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” It is also available to those in motion pictures and television who can demonstrate a record of “extraordinary achievement.” The INS interprets the statute very broadly to encompass most fields of creative endeavor. For example, chefs, carpenters and lecturers can all obtain O-1 visas. The person entering the US must be coming to work in their field of ability, but the position need not require the services of a person of extraordinary ability.
EB-1A Immigrant Visa
A foreign national can petition for a green card for himself without an employer under the EB-1A category. To qualify for such a petition, the alien must provide evidence that he has national or international acclaim and that his achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise. He must also provide evidence that he will continue to work in the area of his expertise and that his work will substantially benefit the United States. This evidence is shown by:
(1) Receipt of major, international recognized prizes or awards; or
(2) Be nationally or internationally recognized as extraordinary in a specific field of expertise. This can be attained by showing evidence of at least three of the following:
(a) Receipt of lesser known nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field.
(b) Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements in your field;
(c) Published material in professional publications written by others about your work;
(d) Participation as a judge in the works of others;
(e) Original scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions to your field;
(f) Authorship of scholarly books or articles in your field;
(g) Performance in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
(h) Command a high salary for your services in relation to others in your field.
EB-1C Immigrant Visa
The EB-1C immigrant category is among the other various visas in the First Preference category. A First Preference Immigration Petition (EB-1) is an employment-based petition for permanent residence reserved for those who are among the most able and accomplished in their respective fields within the arts, sciences, education, business, or sports. Immigrant visa numbers are immediately available under the EB-1 category. The first preference category is allotted 40,000 annual immigrant visas. To obtain an EB-1 status, the beneficiary may apply for Adjustment of Status, if they are already in the United States, or through consular processing at a U.S. consular office abroad.
A specific employment-based immigrant preference category (EB-1C) was created for managers and executives who meet the L-1A non-immigrant standards and are interested in becoming lawful permanent residents. L1-A status is offered to those intercompany executive or managerial transferees that will be coming to the United States only temporarily.Therefore, the major difference between L-1A and EB-1C is the permanent nature of the EB-1C visa. Although L-1A status is not a prerequisite for immigrant benefits in this category, an immigrant petitioner will have a stronger case for the EB-1C immigrant category if they were in L-1A status prior. However, we have successfully worked with many clients who have applied for EB-1C status without ever having obtained L-1A status.
The EB-1C visa is a good way for small or start-up overseas companies to expand their business and services to the United States. This is advantageous to smaller companies because its allows for the transfer of a highly proficient manager or executive employee who has direct knowledge of the company’s operations, allowing the setup of a new branch in compliance with the goals and objectives of the company’s main office.
EB-5 Immigrant Visa
General Standard: The immigrant investor must make a minimum qualifying investment and a minimum number of employees must be hired.
- The investor must invest or be actively in the process of investing at least $1 million in the enterprise. Can go up to as high as $3 million for “high employment areas” and as low as $500,000 for “targeted employment areas.” In the Immigration Nationality Act (INA), the required investment amount is $1 million, other than those in rural and high unemployment areas. Minimum capital investment requirement is $500,000 for investments in rural and high unemployment areas.
- The immigrant investor must take the form of a contribution of capital that has been placed at risk for the purpose of generating a return on that capital.
- The capital invested must have been obtained through lawful means.
- The enterprise must benefit the U.S. economy and must create full time employment for not less than 10 U.S. workers.
- The investment must be made in a “new commercial enterprise” or a “troubled business.
- The investor must be engaged in the management of the enterprise, either through day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation.
NOTE: Congress created an “immigrant investor pilot program” in 1993. The important feature of that law if that it relaxes the job creation requirement applicable to immigrant investors by allowing aliens investing in new commercial enterprises located within regional centers to establish “reasonable methodologies” for determining the number of jobs created, including such jobs which are estimated to have been created indirectly through revenues generated from increased exports resulting from the pilot program.