Garza & Associates provides temporary visitors, workers and their families the services they require to obtain lawful status, change their current status, or prolong their status in the United States. Whether it is assistance in obtaining non-immigrant status, changing, or extending your current status, our attorneys provide services and advise on visa policy for the following non-immigrant visas services:
H-TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES (H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, AND H3)
H-1 B: A professional holding a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent with a job offer which requires the degree may qualify for H-1B status. The U.S. employer must submit the appropriate paperwork to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
First, the employer must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor. In this application, the employers attest that they will pay the foreign worker the appropriate salary (“prevailing wage”) and that the working conditions will be the same as other U.S. workers. Once the Labor Condition Application is approved, the H-1B application may then be submitted to USCIS. An H-1B employee is only authorized to work for the employer sponsoring the application.
The H-1B status may be approved for up to three years, and it can be extended for a total of six years. If an application for permanent residency is submitted at least one year prior to the end of the sixth year, additional yearly extensions may be granted. Spouses and minor children are eligible for H-4 dependent status.
L-INTRACOMPANY TRANSFEREES (L-1A AND L-1B)
An L-1 visa is available to a multinational executive, manager or a person holding specialized knowledge who works for or owns a foreign enterprise. If the company has a U.S. subsidiary, parent company or affiliate that has a common ownership structure, it is possible to obtain an L-1 intracompany transferee visa. If the U.S. affiliate is newly opened, special restrictions will apply. In addition, the intracompany transferee must be employed for at least one year abroad prior to coming to the United States.
E-TREATY TRADERS AND INVESTORS (E-1 AND E-2)
Nationals of many countries are eligible to obtain Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor visas. Our office can advise you of which participating countries are eligible. The investment enterprise must be majority owned by a citizen and national of a treaty country. A treaty trader may be eligible for an E-1 visa if at least 51 percent of the company’s trade occurs between the treaty country and the United States.
An E-2 Treaty Investor visa requires a substantial investment in a U.S. business. The investment funds must be under the sole control of the treaty investor. There is no fixed amount required for an investment but the investment amount must be deemed substantial in relationship to the nature of the business, the startup costs and/or the value of the enterprise.
E visas may also be issued to managers, executives and essential employees of the same nationality who work for the U.S. branch office.
TN-NAFTA Workers (TN-1 and TN-2)
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides for work visas for certain Canadian and Mexican professionals with U.S. job offers. Canadian applicants may apply directly at the port of entry; however, Mexican applicants must apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate overseas prior to entering the United States but do not need prior USCIS approval. The TN visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed. Spouses and minor children are eligible for TD (Treaty Dependent) visas, which do not allow employment authorization.
O-ALIENS OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY AND ASSISTING PERSONNEL (O-1 AND O-2)
O-1 visas are available to persons of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. An employer or agent must sponsor the foreign national. An O-1 applicant must be able to demonstrate their extraordinary ability through documentation of sustained national or international acclaim in their field. Such documentation may include the following:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards;
- membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement;
- published materials about the applicant in professional or major trade publications;
- judgment of the work of others;
- original scientific or scholarly work of major significance in his or her field;
- evidence of authorship of scholarly work;
- evidence that s/he has been employed in a critical or essential capacity at an organization with a distinguished reputation; and
- has commanded or will command a high salary in relation to others in the field.
R-RELIGIOUS WORKERS (R-1)
A religious worker may be sponsored by a bona fide nonprofit religious organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. A religious worker may come to work as a minister, in a professional capacity, in a religious vocation or religious occupation. Prior approval by USCIS is now required for all applicants. In addition, the religious organization will likely receive a site inspection from a USCIS officer. This status allows qualified religious workers to enter the United States for an initial period of admission of three years. The maximum period for an R-1 religious worker is five years.
VISITORS FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE (B-1 AND B-2)
The most common visa categories are the B-1 Visitor for Business and the B-2 Visitor for Pleasure. A person seeking to enter the United States as a visitor must apply for the B-1 or B-2 visa through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Visitor visas may be granted for up to ten years depending on the country of issuance for temporary travel to the United States. An individual is typically admitted to the United States for a period of six months at a time as a tourist. An extension may be granted for an additional six-month period. It is the period of admission granted upon entry to the United States that will control the period of authorized stay, not the visa. Persons who overstay their authorized admission automatically invalidate the visa even if the overstay is for one day. B-1 business visitors are usually admitted for the period required to conduct their business activities. Visitors are generally prohibited from working in the United States.
STUDENTS (F-1 and M-1)
F-1 is the visa category designated for international students seeking language training or a degree. To be eligible for F-1 status, interested students must first apply to an institution that is certified to enroll F-1 students.
Once admitted, students must provide certain financial documentation proving they will have financial support for tuition, living expenses, books, and other needs while in the United States for one academic year. This will allow the student to receive a Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility” for the student to study a particular degree at the institution issuing the I-20. There will be a specified period of time, level of education, major, biographic information, and the financial breakdown for one academic year. Students may apply to several institutions and receive an I-20 from more than one institution; however, they may only choose one school to attend.
SPOUSES, FIANCÉS, OR FIANCÉES OF UNITED STATES CITIZENS (K-1, K-2, K-3, AND K-4)
An individual wishing to enter the United States to marry a U.S. citizen fiancé or fiancée must apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa at the Consulate in their home country. Once the fiancé has entered the United States on a K-1 Visa, the marriage to the U.S. citizen fiancé/fiancée must take place within 90 days of the fiancé’s entry to the United States or else he/she must depart the country. Once the marriage has taken place, an application for Adjustment of Status must be filed to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence. Thus, the K-1 visa a non-immigrant visa in name only. In reality it is a transitional status for individuals who will be immediately eligible for permanent residence upon marriage.
P-ARTISTS, ATHLETES, AND ENTERTAINERS (P-1, P-2, AND P-3)
The P-Visa category covers entertainers and athletes who cannot qualify under the extraordinary ability standard for the O-category. The P-1 category is set aside for: athletes who compete individually or as part of a team at an internationally recognized level; and individuals who perform with or are an integral and essential part of the performance of an entertainment group that has received international recognition as “outstanding” for a “sustained and substantial period of time.” An important distinction to keep in mind between athletes and entertainers in this subcategory is that individual athletes may be admitted into the United States as P-1 visa holders, but individual entertainers may not be. The only basis for approval of a P-1 petition for a single entertainer is when the entertainer will be coming to the United States to join a foreign-based entertainment group.
For any other non-immigrant visa matter, contact our Texas law firm. Our lawyers can offer more information on obtaining, changing, or extending your status in the U.S.
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