Expanding a company’s operations into the United States is an exciting process, but it can also be a challenge. You’ll need a talented team of employees to help you set your company up for success abroad. If you’re planning to relocate any employees from your parent company to ease the transition, it’s up to you to make sure they have the necessary visas and permits to work in the U.S. legally.
Types of U.S. Working Visas and Permits
The United States is a large, complex country that’s open to development from foreign companies. As a result, there’s a wide variety of U.S. work visas for international employees to choose from. Most foreign workers will not need a U.S. work permit, as their visa will act as a permit as well.
Some common U.S. work visa categories include:
- E-2 visa for investors
- I visa for foreign media representatives
- H-1B visa for professionals in a special occupation
- H-1C visa for registered nurses
- L-1A/B visa for intra-company transferees
- O visas for foreign individuals with extraordinary achievements or abilities
- TN NAFTA visas for professionals from Canada or Mexico
The H-1B visa for special occupation professionals is the most common U.S. working visa, and it’s the one most of your employees will likely need.
Note that the H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, which allows foreign workers to travel to the U.S. and stay temporarily for a specific job. Non-immigrant visas are easier to obtain than immigrant visas, which allow individuals to migrate to the U.S. and live there permanently.
What Are the Requirements to Obtain a U.S. Work Visa?
To get an H-1B visa, foreign employees must provide the following documents:
- An employment offer from a company based in the U.S.
- A copy of their CV or resume
- Copies of their passport and any relevant degree certificates and transcripts
The employer will need to provide:
- The company’s Federal Tax I.D. Number
- The job title, salary, and job requirements for the position, along with a detailed job description
- The name, address, and phone number of the company
- The name and job title of the individual signing the forms on the company’s behalf
- All of the necessary filing forms and fees
What Steps Should Foreign Nationals Take to Get a U.S. Work Visa?
As the employer, it is your responsibility to file a petition for each employee who needs an H-1B visa. The application process is as follows:
- The employer files the petition: You’ll need to include a variety of job-specific information, including the exact dates of employment and the duties of the position.
- The employer determines the prevailing wage and the actual wage for the position: To find the prevailing wage, you’ll need to file a form with the State Employment Security Agency in the U.S. You can determine the actual wage by comparing the wages of other workers in the same position with the same experience level as your employee. Your company must pay the higher of the two wages.
- The employer files a Labor Certification Application (LCA): By signing this form, your company agrees to pay the previously determined wage and offer the foreign employee the same benefits as your other employees.
- The U.S. Department of Labor approves the LCA: Upon approval, your company will receive a certified copy of the LCA. You’ll need to post a notice at your worksite that you applied for the LCA.
- The employer lodges the petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): You’ll obtain a receipt with a reference number and an estimated processing time.
- The USCIS approves the petition: Upon approval, you’ll receive a notice (Form I-797). At this point, the employee can begin working for your company.
Other Important Considerations
The USCIS limits the number of available H-1B visas provided each year, so it’s best to apply as soon as possible.
You should also be aware that the H-1B visa is valid for up to three years, after which you can renew it once for a total of up to six years.
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