FAQ About U.S.

What is a U.S. visa and how can I obtain one?

A visa is a photo i.d. issued outside the U.S. which allows you to enter the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. The two main types of visas are immigrant visas (also known as green cards), which let you live and work indefinitely inside the U.S., and non-immigrant visas, which allow you to live and/or work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. There are a variety of ways to obtain a visa, but the most common are through a U.S.-based employer sponsor or a family member who is a U.S. citizen. Most work visas require you to have a firm job offer with a U.S. company before applying. If you are a highly-skilled professional, it may be easier for you to find work in the U.S. than if you are an unskilled worker.

What is USCIS?

USCIS stands for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is the agency of the U.S. government principally dealing with foreign citizens in the United States. This includes giving it jurisdiction over many matters relevant to H-1B and H-4 aliens. Prior to March of 2003, the USCIS was called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). For a brief period it went by the name Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). It is also sometimes referred to simply as CIS. For purposes of this web site, we use the current accepted name of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

What is an H-1B Visa?

An H-1B visa is a visa that allows entry into the U.S. in H-1B status. H-1B status is a non-immigrant status for alien professionals, which allows them to work in the U.S. for a temporary period of time.

What are the steps required to file an H-1B petition?

A: The following steps are required to file an H-1B petition:

  1. Obtain a job offer from an employer located in the U.S.;
  2. Obtain the prevailing wage for your job from a State Employment Security Agency or a private survey;
  3. File a Labor Condition Application and obtain approval from the Department of Labor;
  4. Complete USCIS’s H-1B forms, and include a petition letter provided by the employer;
  5. Submit a completed and signed H-1B petition to the USCIS.

I have been offered a part time job. Do I still qualify for H-1B status?

Yes. As long as your work hours are at least 50% of the normal full time hours in your industry and you satisfy all other requirements for an H-1B, you are eligible to receive a part time H-1B visa.

What is the E-1 and E-2 visa?

The E category is designed for use by business owners, business managers, and employees who are required to stay in the United States for prolonged periods of time to oversee or work for an enterprise that is engaged in trade between the U.S. and a foreign country (E-1) or that represents a substantial investment in the United States (E-2).

The E category exists to give effect to various treaties between the United States and foreign states which provide for reciprocal benefits to nationals of each country who conduct trade between the two countries or who invest in the other country.

An individual who obtains E-status is granted an initial period of two years to remain in the United States. However, this period can be extended almost indefinitely so long as the E status holder declares that he or she will depart the United States when the period of authorized stay, including any unlimited extensions, terminates.

What is the L visa?

When a multi-national company is developing a new market in another country, it may become necessary to have some employees with specialized knowledge to work in the newly established office. The availability of an experienced employee with specialized and proprietary knowledge is often the determinative factor for the success of the new office. Large multi-national companies would also like to have the flexibility to transfer their employees without being limited to any particular employee.

To facilitate the needs of intra-company transfers by multi-national companies, the L visa was specifically designed. However, smaller and even starting up companies can also take advantage of the L visa for its business needs as long as the requirements are met. USCIS will scrutinize L visa petitions filed by a less well-known company more closely. Professional consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer is strongly recommended for a small multi-national company.