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Planning to Immigrate to the United States?

Who is this for?

People outside the United States who want to know if they are eligible for immigration to the United States and what immigration visa program is best for them, what the steps are, and how long it will take.

What you get:

Professional review of your eligibility for immigration to the US with an immigration professional at the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates. An understanding of timelines, costs, and chances of success and ask any questions you may have.

Get reliable answers to your specific immigration questions.
PROFESSIONAL advice: honest and up-front.
UNDERSTAND your eligibility and best path.
EXPERIENCE helping thousands immigrate for over 25 years.

Types of Temporary US Work Visas

The most common temporary work visas in the United States include:

  1. H-1B Visas
  2. E Visas
  3. L Visas
  4. O Visas

Many times, it depends on what type of occupation you will perform in the US that decides which visa is best for you. Some other factors that influence this decision can include whether you have a relationship with an employer, how long you’ll be employed in the United States, and what degree of skill it takes to perform the job.

Top Temporary US Work Visa Options

H-1B Visa (Skilled Workers)

An H-1B visa is a temporary US work permit that allows foreigners to work within “specialty occupations” for US employers. This means that your employment in the United States cannot be for just any type of work; the work performed must involve a high level of skill such as in a professional occupation. Most applicants under the H-1B work visa category are highly educated with a university degree. However, high education is not always necessary. Some H-1B visas can be granted to applicants with little education but with lots of work experience.

Other H Category Visas:

  1. H-2A Visa
  2. H-2B Visa
  3. H-3 Visa

E1 and E2 Visas (Treaty Traders & Treaty Investors)

E-1 Visa

The E-1 or Treaty Trader visa is a nonimmigrant visa for citizens of countries that the US has a treaty of commerce with. While not all countries are eligible, business owners from those that are may qualify if they meet several criteria. 

E-2 Visa

If you wish to work in the US by starting or investing in a US business, an E-2 Visa may be an option for you. E visas are US work visas for people working in the US investment. E visas can only be issued to countries where there is a treaty between the foreign national’s country and the USA.

L1 Visa (Intra-Company Transfers)

If you are expanding your business to the US or being transferred to an existing American business, the L-1 visa is most likely the best type of visa for you. L-1 visas are available to employees working for companies outside the United States such as in Canada that have branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint venture partners in the United States. 

The L-1 Visa has two categories, which include:

  1. L-1A
  2. L-1B

O-1 Visa (Extraordinary Abilities)

The O-1 temporary visa is intended for people who possess extraordinary skills in arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics, or who have a solid track record of extraordinary performance in the motion picture and television industry and have been identified and acknowledged domestically and internationally for their excellence.

Other Temporary Work Visas to Explore

  1. P Visas (Entertainment & Performance Workers)
  2. R-1 Visa (Religious Workers)

How to Get a Permanent Work Visa in the United States

Permanent residents, also known as green card holders, are non-US citizens who are authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Many people obtain their green card through a family-based green card or employment-based green card. Each year many applicants are awarded green cards in employment-based categories such as:

  1. EB-1 Green Card 
  2. EB-2 Green Card
  3. EB-3 Green Card
  4. EB-4 Green Card
  5. EB-5 Green Card

Permanent US Employment-Based Green Cards

EB-1 Visa (Priority Workers)

The EB-1 Green Card, First Preference visa category was created for priority workers looking to live in the United States. More specifically, those eligible for an EB-1 visa would need to fall under the following categories:

EB-1A: Extraordinary Ability

EB-1B: Outstanding Professors and Researchers

EB-1C: Multinational Manager or Executive

EB-2 Visa (Advanced Degree Professionals)

The EB-2 immigrant visa category is within the Immigration Act for those interested in US permanent residency. It was created for foreign nationals who hold an advanced degree, exceptional abilities or are looking to waive their labor certification requirement. The three visas that fall under the second preference category include: 

EB-2A: Advanced Degree

EB-2B: Exceptional Ability

EB-2C: National Interest Waiver (NIW)

EB-3 Visa (Skilled, Unskilled, & Professional Workers)

The EB-3 Green Card is a permanent residence category based on work experience. Workers that are competent, professional, or “other” fall into the third preferred group. Those that obtain an EB-3 Green Card who are considered skilled, unskilled, or professional workers.

EB-4 Visa (Special Immigrants)

The EB-4 category is an immigrant visa preference category for “exceptional immigrants.” If a person satisfies the qualifications for special immigrant status, they may apply for legal permanent resident (LPR) status in the EB4 category. There are two main categories of the EB-4 visa but in addition to these there are several other categories:

  1. Religious Workers
  2. Special Immigrant Juveniles

EB-5 Visa (Investors)

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa category was created within the Immigration Act to attract foreign capital to the US and create jobs for American workers in the process. Ultimately, the investor would then be entitled to apply for US permanent residence.

Student and Exchange Visitors

There are a few temporary visas that were created specifically for student and exchange visitors. Many who obtain one of the following have the chance to possibly adjust their status to a green card.

F-1 Student Visa

The F-1 “Academic Student” visa is meant for individuals who plan to study at an academic institution (including accredited colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, and academic high school and elementary schools) or language training program. To qualify, the program in which you are enrolled must culminate in the receipt of a degree, diploma, or certificate and the school must be authorized by the US government to accept international students.

M Student Visas

The M-1 “Vocational Student” visa is meant for students in vocational or other non-academic programs, other than language training.

J -1 Exchange Visitor Visa

The J-1 visa is used by international visitors to enter the United States temporarily for educational or cultural exchange purposes. Participants of the Exchange Visitor Program are expected to return to their respective home countries to utilize the skills that they acquire while in the US.

Temporary US Business Visas

B-1 Business Visitor Visa

If you are entering the United States for business purposes, you may require a B-1 visa. The B-1 visa is a very fast and relatively simple means of visiting the United States for business purposes. Canadians, in particular, are usually not issued formal B-1 visas but rather receive a stamp on their passport admitting them on B-1 Status, which they can obtain at a US/Canadian port of entry.

E-2 Investor Visa

What Is an Investor Visa?

Individuals who wish to work in the US by starting or investing in a US business may be eligible for an E-1 or E-2 investor visa, or an L-1 business expansion visa. While not all countries are eligible, business owners and investors from those that are may qualify if they meet several criteria. Employees as well as spouses and children of the principal visa holder may also be eligible for a visa.

Temporary Investor Visas

There are 2 types of E-visas for investors: the E-1 and the E-2 Visa. Under each one, only certain countries’ citizens are eligible to apply, and both have subtle yet important requirements that set them apart.

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa was created by Congress to attract foreign capital to the US and create jobs for American workers in the process. 

The investor would then be eligible for permanent residence. To obtain the EB-5 visa, the investor must fit a few main requirements, and submit documentation to prove they are eligible.

O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics. While it is considered a work visa, it can be applicable to investors in some of these areas, particularly business, in which one may have extraordinary skills.

Who Can Apply for the E-2 US Investor Visa?

If you wish to work in the U.S. by starting or investing in a U.S. business, an E-2 Visa may be an option for you. E visas are U.S. work visas for people working in the U.S. in trade or in investment. E visas can only be issued to countries where there is a treaty between the foreign national’s country and the USA.

Two types of E visa applications:

  1. E-1 (for traders)
  2. E-2 (for investors)

Investor Visa Cases

Questions You May Have, or Issues You Could Potentially Face in Applying for an Investor Visa are:

  • What is the Difference Between an E-1 and E-2 Visa?
  • I was refused a US Business Visa. What’s Next?
  • What to Expect at an E-2 Visa Interview
  • Can I Get a Green Card from an E-2 Visa?
  • Investing in a Franchise for An E-2 Visa

How to Qualify for an E-2 Investor Visa?

E-2 visas are for owners and investors in businesses in the United States. The E-2 is a temporary U.S. work visa that may be granted for “substantial” investments in the U.S. An investment must meet several criteria in order to qualify for an E-2 visa.

Employees of E-2 companies may be granted E-2 visas if they are or will be engaged in duties that are executive, managerial, or supervisory in nature. If employed in a minor capacity, the employee may be granted an E-2 visa if he or she has special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the enterprise. The spouse and children (unmarried and under 21) of E-1 or E-2 visa holders are entitled to the same E-1 or E-2 classification as the principal.

In Order to Qualify for the E-2 Visa as an Investor, You Have to:

  • Show that a “substantial” investment or funds is available and committed to the investment;
  • The investment must be for an active business as opposed to passive investment such as purchasing a home;
  • At least 50% of the business must be owned by the foreigner from a country which has a treaty with the United States;
  • The investment must create enough profit to provide a living for more than just the applicant and his/her family.

How Much Money Do I Need to Invest for an E-2 Visa?

There is no minimum amount of investment necessary to obtain an E-2 visa. The investment just has to be “substantial”. What is considered a substantial amount will depend on factors such as the type of business involved, the number of jobs created by the investor’s personal assets, etc. In most cases, the investment should be at least $100,000USD, but sometimes it may be less than this.

What if I am an Employee? Can I Qualify for an E-2 Visa?

To qualify for E-2 Employee classification, the employee or prospective employee of a treaty investor must:

  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

How to Qualify for an E-1 Trader Visa?

E-1 visas are for individuals involved in the exchange, purchase or sale of goods/services or merchandise. Services include technology transfer, architecture and engineering services, management consulting or accounting. The trade in goods and services should be substantial in terms of value, volume or a large number of small transactions.

The trade must also meet the following criteria:

  • The trade must be principally with the treaty country.
  • More than 50% of the total volume of international trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty country.
  • The amount of trade must be sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.
  • Trade can be binding contracts that call for the future exchange of items.
  • Income derived from the value of numerous transactions that is sufficient to support the trades and his/her family is a favorable factor.

Is your Country on the E Visa List?

In order to qualify for an E visa, you have to be a national of a country that has a Treaty with the U.S. for E visas.

Why Hire Us to Help You With Your E-2 Visa Application?

With over 25 years experience of working with investors and traders, we know what the U.S. immigration department requires. We have helped thousands and thousands of foreign nationals successfully enter the U.S. with various visas and we can help you too!

The first step towards a successful E-2 visa application is getting an assessment of your case. Fill out our immigration assessment form and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and options.

Who Should Apply for a Visitor Visa/US Tourist Visa?

A US Visitor Visa is a non-immigrant visa for those who wish to enter the United States temporarily for business, tourism, or visit. Sometimes a US Visitor Visa is also called a US Tourist Visa. Depending on the purpose of your visit, you may be eligible for a B-1 or B-2 visa, or both (B-1/B-2) if your reasons fall under both categories. Visas may be either single-entry or multiple-entry, depending on an individual’s eligibility. Applicants for visitor visas must be able to prove that they are not coming to the country to immigrate, but rather to visit for one of the purposes included under the visa.

The B-1 Business Visa 

When traveling for business, an individual should apply for a B-1 visa. Reasons to apply for a business visa include the following: consulting with business associates, attending a business conference or convention, negotiating contracts, purchasing property, and investigating business opportunities. If you plan to come to the United States for one of these business-related purposes, you may be eligible to apply for a B-1 visa.

The B-2 Tourism and Visit Visa 

Those who wish to travel to the US for tourism, vacation, or to visit family should apply for the B-2 visa. This visa also includes those who are entering the country for medical treatment or participation in certain types of social or service events. Visit our B-2 visa page to learn more about the qualifications required to apply.

Application and Entering the United States

The application process for a B-2 or B-2 visitor visa may vary depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. To apply, you will likely be required to fill out the online non-immigrant visa application. Once you enter the United States you may request to extend your stay past the duration you have indicated but are required to leave the US by the indicated date unless your request is approved. Be advised that, upon entering the United States, officials at the port-of-entry do have the authority to allow or deny entry to the US. Therefore, we often recommend hiring an immigration lawyer to help ensure your application is prepared properly. We know how to make the process go as smoothly as possible and improve the chances of a visa approval.

Mandatory Documents

Passport which is valid for travel to the United States – passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.

Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.

Application fee payment receipt – if you are required to pay before your interview.

Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Additional Documents Which May Be Required for a US Tourist Visa

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip,
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.  
  • Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.

Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.

US Visitor Visa Processing Time

The average visa processing time for a United States visitor visa at the Embassy is three days. Due to mailing time, applicants can expect to receive their visas in 7 to 10 calendar days on average.

Attending Your US Visitor Visa Interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visitor visa.  

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing.  The consular officer would inform you if this required.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality) and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.

Studying in the United States

Many international students apply each year to study abroad in the US. However, to be able to do so, students will need either the F-1 or M-1 student visa. These visas do not technically fall under the category of a visitor visa and therefore have different rules and requirements. If you would like more information on this topic, visit our page on studying in the US with a student visa.

Have You Been Refused a US Visitor Visa?

Not all US visitor visa applications are accepted by USCIS. If you or someone you know has been refused a visitor visa, visit our page on US visa refusal letter and what to do. It is important to determine why you have had your application turned down in order to figure out what your next step is and reduce the chances of it happening again.

Have You Been Denied Entry to the United States After Applying for a Visitor Visa?

There are a variety of reasons you may be denied entry to the US, some more serious than others. It can be a very frustrating and confusing time trying to come up with a solution to this situation. If you have been denied entry to the United States and would like to learn more information on why this happened or what you can do to fix it, please visit our page that explains everything you need to know about being denied entry to the US.

Visit the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates at www.askthelawyer.us,  and schedule a consultation to see if you are eligible to visit the United States.

Student Visas

The United States has come to be known for its exceptional universities and high levels of education. For this reason, many international students apply each year to study abroad in the US. To become a full-time international student, you will need either the F-1 or M-1 student visa. Each of these student is a nonimmigrant visa that allows you to study in the US provided you meet a set of requirements.

Eligibility Requirements for Student Visas

To qualify for an F-1 or M-1 visa, USCIS states that you must:

  • Be enrolled as a full-time student in an “academic” educational program, a language training program, or a vocational program
  • Be accepted into a school that is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement
  • Be proficient in English or be enrolled in classes that will lead to English proficiency
  • Have sufficient funds to support yourself during the entire proposed course of study
  • Maintain residence abroad and have no intention of giving it up

Which Student Visa to Apply For?

The visa you choose to apply for will depend on the type of schooling you plan to receive. 

F-1 Student Visa

The F-1 “Academic Student” visa is meant for individuals who plan to study at an academic institution (including accredited colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, and academic high school and elementary schools) or language training program. To qualify, the program in which you are enrolled must culminate in the receipt of a degree, diploma, or certificate and the school must be authorized by the US government to accept international students.

M-1 Student Visa

The M-1 “Vocational Student” visa is meant for students in vocational or other non-academic programs, other than language training.

How to Apply for a Student Visa?

 To apply for a student visa, you must first be accepted into one of the aforementioned institutions approved by SEVP, meaning you will first apply to the institution itself. After you have been accepted, you will decide which student visa you need and will apply based on the requirements of your US Embassy or Consulate. You will fill out all online application forms and then schedule an interview. Make sure you apply far enough in advance to your school’s start date, so that you receive your visa in time to begin your studies. While your visa may be issued up to 120 days prior to the start of the academic year, as a new student you will not be permitted to enter the US more than 30 days prior to your start date. Continuing students may enter at any time, as long as their visa is current.

Fees and Interview

Once you are accepted into the SEVP approved school, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). From here, you will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. You will then be provided the Form I-20 by the school, which you will present to the consular officer at your visa interview. You will also be required to pay a fee of US$160 for the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, or Form DS-160. Next, you will schedule an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. At your interview you must establish that you meet the criteria to receive the visa for which you are applying.

US Student Visa Processing Time

The US student visa (F-1 visa) is one of the fastest visas to process. In fact, the study permit is often processed directly before your embassy interview. The interview is the last step of the application process. By the end of the interview, the consular officer should tell you whether or not your application was approved. Some F-1 visa applications will take several days to process; in which case your approval will come several days after the interview.

Can You Work in the US with a Study Visa?

Many students wish to work part-time while working in the US, so that they can support themselves to some extent. In this case, a few restrictions will apply. F-1 students who want to work are not permitted to work off-campus during their first academic year but may work in certain on-campus jobs. After the first academic year, F-1 students may work off-campus as long as the employment is Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Training Extension.

An M-1 student who wishes to work may only work in practical training positions after they have completed their studies. However, M-1 students may work on or off-campus in certain positions as well, as long as they are authorized positions. Both F-1 and M-1 students must ensure any off-campus employment they procure is related to their area of study and is approved prior to the start date by the Designated School Official who manages SEVIS, and USCIS.

US Student Visa to Green Card

While studying in the US is not a direct pathway to immigration, there is potential to work in the United States post-graduation. An individual is expected to leave the states following graduation unless they apply to participate in post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). This allows F-1 Visa holding students to work part-time or full-time in a role that must be directly related to their major area of study for up to 12 months. Certain STEM students may be eligible for a 24 month extension if the meet eligibility requirements. To apply for OPT, a student must request that the designated school official at their academic institution recommend them. The student will then file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, through USCIS.

F-1 Visa holders may be eligible to petition for an H-1B visa and request a change of status, which is known as a “Cap-Gap.” Doing so fills the gap between the time when the F-1 visa expires and the H-1B visa and employment begins. However, the application must be completed in a timely fashion, as the dates of effect are very specific. While an H-1B visa is temporary, after the 6 year period it is valid, the beneficiary may be eligible to apply for a Green Card.

Visit the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates at www.askthelawyer.us,  and schedule a consultation to see if you are eligible for a student visa to the United States.

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