Hill & Piibe's experienced attorneys for U.S. visas can help you determine which type of visa is best-suited to you, and then prepare a thorough application and guide you through the process, whether you apply from inside the United States or from outside its borders. Employers can also gain information about getting proper work documents for employees.
Temporary Visas (also known as “Non-Immigrant Visas,” or “NIVs”) are for people who wish to stay in the U.S. for a short period of time, spanning from days to weeks, months or even years. The temporary visa is not a green card and does not put you on a path to a green card or to citizenship. It merely allows you to remain in the U.S. for a specified period of time.
Temporary visas most commonly are for visitors / tourists, or for persons who wish to work temporarily in the United States. Some visas give you permission to work in the U.S. and others do not.
A temporary visa is a document stapled or glued into your passport that gives you authorization to enter the U.S. and stay here temporarily. The visa is granted for a specific “visa validity” period. This means that, during the “visa validity period,” you can use the visa for an unlimited number of times to enter the U.S. — it is similar to a season pass that allows you admission to an amusement park, or a museum, etc. Each time you present the temporary visa to U.S. Border Patrol Officers, they have the right to determine if you are still eligible for the visa category before allowing you to enter the U.S.
You present your visa at the border to show why you qualify to be admitted. Once inside the U.S., your I-94 Period of Admission controls how long you can stay. This is recorded electronically in your I-94 record with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Every time you enter the U.S., even on the same visa, you will be given a deadline by which to leave the country. This deadline can be extended, and/or your visa validity period can also be extended.
At Hill & Piibe, we view the application process for temporary visas as a two-step process:
Step 1 requires detailed documentation, but Step 2 is equally important and should be considered before you spend money and time applying for the visa.
The U.S. State Department of State website has useful information about all available types of temporary visas. Some temporary visas for employment must be initiated with a petition filed in the United States by the employer, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website contains information about these employment visas.
B-1/B-2 – Business visitor or tourist, 6 month maximum stay*
E-1 Treaty Trader – For business owner / employee of a trade treaty country conducting substantial international trade of goods / services with the U.S., 5 year maximum stay*
E-2 Treaty Investor – For business owner / employee of a trade treaty country to manage / direct an established investment enterprise in the U.S., 5 year maximum stay*
E-3 Specialty Occupation Professional for Australians – For Australian professionals working for a U.S. employer in an occupation that requires a specific baccalaureate degree (e.g., architect, engineer, etc.), 3 year maximum stay*
H-1B Specialty Occupation – For professionals working for a U.S. employer in an occupation that requires a specific baccalaureate degree (e.g., architect, engineer, etc.). Limited to 65,000 per year with a competitive lottery selection process, 3 year maximum stay*
H-2B Temporary / Seasonal Worker – Available to nationals of certain countries for limited assignments. Employer must advertise and recruit for U.S. workers first, 18 month maximum stay*
K-1 Fiancé(e) / K-3 Spouse – For fiancé(e)s and spouses of U.S. citizens who wish to enter the U.S. and apply for a green card through marriage
L-1 Transfer – To transfer current managers / executives and specialized knowledge employees from a foreign enterprise to a U.S. branch, subsidiary, affiliate, etc. Requires one year minimum experience working for the foreign enterprise, 3 year maximum stay*
O-1 Extraordinary Ability in Athletics, Business, Sciences, Education or the Arts (including Motion Picture/Television) – For those with national / international recognition in the field, demonstrated by awards, media attention, distinguished employment, and other indices, may bring essential support personnel, 3 year maximum stay*
P-1 International Athlete / Entertainer – For athletes in international competition with demonstrated records / rankings, or entertainers / groups with national / international reputations, may bring essential support personnel, 5 year maximum stay*
R-1 Religious Worker – For those performing work essential to religious worship / ceremony, must be member of the religion / denomination, 30 month maximum stay*
U – For victims of violent crimes / domestic violence committed inside the U.S., must demonstrate cooperation with law enforcement to investigate the crime, 3 year maximum stay* (leads to a green card)
*Maximum stay periods are generalized. Maximum stay depends on country of nationality, the applicant’s particular circumstances, and the discretion of immigration authorities. Many visas are eligible for “renewal” as well.
Contact Hill & Piibe for a paid Legal Advice Consultation on whether you or your employee qualifies for a visa. We will have you complete a questionnaire and the attorney will discuss all possibilities and strategies. The fee for this consultation will be applied toward future attorney fees for the visa. Schedule a consultation for an in-person meeting in Los Angeles or San Juan Capistrano, or we can arrange one via telephone or Skype.
The immigration and visa lawyers at Hill & Piibe serve clients of all nationalities living abroad or in the Los Angeles, California area, including Riverside and Bakersfield and all of San Bernardino County, Orange County, San Diego County, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County.
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