Non-immigrant work visas can be applied for by foreign professionals (H-1B visas), “treaty traders”, or “treaty investors” from countries with treaties with the U.S. (E visas) or intra-company transferees (L visas) for long term stays in the U.S. to engage in trade or conduct. Some of these visas, such as the L1-A, are convertible to legal permanent residence (Green Card holder). Integrity Law Group is legal counsel to many companies who have substantial trade with foreign countries including China, Thailand, and Vietnam in the product areas of textiles, food, and electronics. We can help your business grow in the U.S.
- The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.
- The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U.S. must have the nationality of the treaty country.
- The international trade must be “substantial” in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
- The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality.
- Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
- The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
E-2 – Treaty investor visa applicants (E-2) must meet the following requirements:
- The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
- The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
- The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.
L-1A – The L-1A non-immigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee. The following describes some of the features and requirements of the L-1 non-immigrant visa program.
General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
- Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad. Also to qualify, the named employee must:
- Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
- Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for more complete definitions.