Startup Stock Photos.  Pexels

Startup Stock Photos. Pexels

O Visa 

The O Visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, athletics, and the arts. The visa is temporary and can be approved in increments of 3 years. Don’t be intimidated by the term “extraordinary ability”. Immigration has different categories of evidence that it uses to determine if past achievements rise to its definition of extraordinary. The O visa can be a great option for individuals who need to work at many worksites or whose work is by its nature gig-based since you can have an agent petition for you rather than just one single U.S. employer.

EB-1 Visa 

The EB-1 Visa is for individuals seeking permanent residence in the United States who have extraordinary ability in their field. While an EB-1 is similar to an O-1, the standard is higher and the categories used to determine if someone has “extraordinary ability” are slightly different. The EB-1 in most cases does not require that an employer file the petition, meaning that individuals can submit petitions for themselves. The exceptions are for professors, researchers, and multinational executives and managers.


E-2 Investor Visa

The E-2 Investor Visa is for foreign entrepreneurs that have invested in a business they started or purchased. This can be a great option for people who want to start a business in virtually any field, from food trucks to yoga studios, consulting firms to professional services practices. This is also a great option for individuals who want to purchase a franchise in the United States. You must invest personal funds that cover a substantial amount of the start up or purchase price of the business, and you have to show you can direct and develop the business so that it can hire U.S. employees. The length of time a visa can be approved depends on your nationality. Although the E-2 is a temporary visa, it can be renewed indefinitely so long as the enterprise continues to do business and the foreign national maintains majority ownership and control. 

National INterest Waiver 

The National Interest Waiver is for individuals seeking permanent residence in the United States for employment and also does not require a job offer. The vast majority of individuals applying for green cards through employment must go through a labor certification process with the Department of Labor to prove that there are no U.S. workers who can perform the same job. The National Interest Waiver is for individuals who shouldn’t have to go through the labor certification process because it would be impractical and because the proposed work will substantially benefit the U.S. For example, if you are an inventor or entrepreneur, it would not be possible to go through the labor certification process since you don’t have an employer. If your work will also bring a substantial benefit to the U.S. (for example by boosting the economy, advancing knowledge, improving national security, etc.), the National Interest Waiver might be a good option.

Free-Photos.  Pixabay

Free-Photos. Pixabay

H-1B specialty occupation and E-3 Australian Visas

The H-1B Visa is for foreign nationals with a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent work experience) who are petitioned by a U.S. employer in a position that utilizes this education or work experience. For example, if you studied graphic design, you would need a job offer that uses the design skills you gained while in school. There is an annual cap to the amount of visas available each year and a lottery occurs every April for these visas; however, employers associated with an institution of higher education can be exempt from this cap. The E-3 Visa, which is solely for Australian nationals, is very similar to the H-1B and is also not subject to the annual cap. The H-1B can be approved in increments of 3 years and the E-3 can be approved in increments of 2 years.

L-1 Intracompany transferee visa

The L-1 Visa is for employees of U.S. companies that have an affiliate or subsidiary company abroad where the foreign national has worked for at least one year. The foreign national must be in a executive/managerial role, or in a role that requires “specialized knowledge." There are various factors that go into a determination of whether a position requires specialized knowledge but one example would be knowledge of a company's internal and procedures that others would not know and could not readily learn. The L-1 visa can be a great option for companies to bring important personnel abroad to the United States temporarily.


J-1 Exchange Visitor visa

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs approved by the Department of State. The program fosters global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges, and participants are expected to return home upon completion of the program in order to share their exchange experiences.

Treaty National/TN visa

The TN Visa is a visa for Canadian or Mexican professionals with a job offer from a U.S. employer. This person must demonstrate they have the qualifications to practice as a general professional (architect, computer systems analyst, lawyer), medical/allied professional (dentist, nutritionist, registered nurse, veterinarian) or as a scientist or teacher.