An O visa is available to non-immigrant temporary worker applicants who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics including television and motion pictures, and to certain assistants and immediate family members of such aliens.
There are three types of O visas:
- O-1A – Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including arts, motion pictures or television industry). For an O-1A, extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
- O-1B – Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion pictures or television industry.
- Arts: Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.
- Motion Pictures or Television Industry: To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
- O-2 – individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance;
- O-3 – individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1s and O-2s.
A P visa is a nonimmigrant temporary employment visa granted to alien athletes, artists, and entertainers, and their spouses and children. P visa classifications are as follows:
- P-1 – Applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group (P-1B) that are internationally recognized;
- P-2 – Applies to artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program;
- P-3 – Applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique;
- P-4 – is for the spouse, or child under the age of 21, of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien and who is accompanying, or following to join, the alien.
E-1 Treaty Trader
The Treaty Trader (E-1) visa is available to nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, and who are coming to the U.S. to engage in trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. Treaty trader applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a treaty trader visa under immigration law.
- You must be a citizen of a treaty country;
- The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise;
- The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;
- More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country;
- Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other;
- You must be an essential employee, 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
The Treaty Investor (E-2) visa is for nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation and are coming to the U.S. to carry on trade between the U.S. and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested. Certain requirements need to be met under Immigration Law.
- The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country;
- If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality;
- The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise;
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment;
- It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States;
- You 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;
- You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.
The L-1 classification is for intra-company transferees, and is available to managers, executives and persons with specialized knowledge employed by a business with offices both abroad and in the United States.
- L-1A– This subcategory is for executives and managers within the company;
- L-1B – This subcategory is for workers with specialized knowledge within the company.
The H-1B classification is for professional-level jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent to perform the job duties. Self-petitioning is not allowed; the employer must obtain an approved labor condition application to ensure that the wages and working conditions do not undermine those for U.S. workers. The H-1B visa may be approved for up to three years and can be extended.
The F visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to pursue education (academic studies and/or language training programs) in the United States. Prospective F-1 students must apply at the schools and receive a form I-20 in order to apply for an F-1 visa. There are three types of F visas:
- F-1 – applies to full time students
- F-2 – applies to spouses and children of F-1 visa holders
- F–3 – applies to border commuters who reside in their country of origin while attending school in the United States.
The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is intended to increase mutual understanding between United States citizens and foreign nationals by means of educational and cultural exchanges. Sponsoring organizations facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into the United States as exchange visitors to complete the objectives of one of the exchange visitor program categories.
The R1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows religious workers to work in the U.S. for a period up to 5 years and eventually apply for permanent residence.
The TN visa category is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. The individual must also possess the minimum qualifications, the most common of which is a Baccalaureate degree.
The E-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for which only the citizens of Australia are eligible. It was created by an Act of the U.S. Congress and is similar in many respects to the H-1B visa. Significant differences include the fact that spouses of E-3 visa holders may work in the United States without restrictions and that the E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely in two year increments.