If you have a job and need to relocate to the U.S., there are several types of Visas that may be applicable with the L-1 being the most common for temporary non-immigrant workers. If your company plans on keeping you in the U.S., you will most likely end up being sponsored for a ‘Green Card’, changing the status to permanent resident.
The petitions through form I-129 must be filed by the U.S. employer (or a foreign employer with a legal business in the U.S.) with the USCIS. For detailed instructions, visit http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Services%20&%20Benefits/Immigration%20Forms/i-129instr.pdf
Also check form M-735, Optional Processing Worksheet for H-1B Filing at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/H-1B_Worksheet.pdf
For Texas, the filing address is:
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
Once the petition is approved, the USCIS will send a form I-797 (Notice of Approval) to the employer and the employee. The employee must then schedule an appointment with the home country’s consulate. To schedule an appointment, the following is required:
- Form I-797 (Notice of Approval)
- Pay stubs (employment and income proof) from your employer
- DS160 or DS-156 and DS-157 Nonimmigrant Visa Application from http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/forms/forms_1342.html
- Valid passport with an expiration date of longer than 6 months from application date
- A 2×2 photograph (see specific requirements here http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1287.html)
- Read this before your interview: http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/Pamphlet-Order.pdf
These are the types of visas that you need to know about for having a job and relocating:
- L-1 (A and B) Intra-company Transfer Work Visa
- H-1B Work Visa
- H-2B Work Visa
- O-1 Non-immigrant Visa
L-1 Intra-company Transfer Work Visa
Workers being relocated by their company to a U.S. branch, subsidiary or parent company and who are managers, executives or specialized knowledge workers, qualify for an L-1 Intra-company Transfer Work Visa. This visa is generally approved in a fast manner but it does depend on home country and proper documentation provided.
The advantage of an L-1 Visa over an H-1 Visa (discussed below) is that it does not require a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent for the position in the U.S. An L-1 Visa also allows for dependent spouses to obtain a L-2 Visa to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and work in the U.S., while the dependents of H-1 Visas receive a H-4 Visa which prohibits them from working. There are also no caps on L-1 Visa entries each year as there are for H-1 Visas.
The lengths for L-1 Visas are L1-A up to 7 years and L1-B up to 5 years, including all available extensions. A L1-B may transfer to an H-1B for an additional year of stay. The only other option for long-term stay is an employer’s sponsorship for permanent resident status.
H-1B Work Visa
Workers being relocated and who are in a specialty occupation, with a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent in a “field of specialized knowledge” in the specific knowledge field, qualify for an H-1B Work Visa. H-1B jobs are doctors, engineers, computer programmers, architects, etc.
There are strict caps set by Congress yearly for the H-1B Visa, with some exceptions for Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements. The current cap for yearly H-1B Visa approvals is 65,000. The quota usually runs out within the first quarter of the year and timely application is strongly recommended.
The length for H-1B Visas is up to 6 years. An extension can be filed within the U.S. If you have a work certification or an I-140 (Immigrant Worker Petition for Green Card) filed for 1 year or longer before the 6th year of the H-1B Visa, you can apply for an extension of the H-1B for another year with the employer.
A dependent spouse will receive an H-4 Visa which prohibits them from working and is a disadvantage compared to the L-1 Visa.
H-2B Work Visa
Workers being relocated and who are skilled or unskilled workers, and whose job is non-agricultural, such as health care, education, construction, hospitality services, manufacturing, etc. and do not have a Bachelor’s Degree, or the job doesn’t require specialized knowledge, qualify for an H-2B Work Visa.
There are strict caps set by Congress yearly. The cap for H-2B Visas is set to 66,000, which divides up into 33,000 for 2010 1st half and another 33,000 for 2nd half.
O-1 Non-immigrant Visa
Workers who posses extraordinary abilities, such as required in education and sciences, qualify for an O-1 Visa. O-2 Visas are reserved for their assistants and O-3 Visas for their dependents. Extraordinary abilities are proven by a high salary or receipt of recognized prizes or awards, or published material in publications concerning the field of work or proof of majorly significant contributions in the field of work.
There is no annual cap set.
O-1 visas are given for the time it takes to complete the job that the applicant has come to the U.S. for, but no longer than three years. Extensions can be filed for up to one additional year.
For more information and to download the forms, visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1271.html and http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
To download the Form I-129 and the Instructions for filling out the form directly, visit here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=f56e4154d7b3d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD