Temporary, Residence & Work Visas


For Temporary Visitors

B-1 visa: for temporary business trips to the U.S. to make investments, to purchase goods, or to conduct other temporary work on behalf of a non-U.S. employer. You may not be employed or be paid by a source inside the U.S. The B-1 visa is for one year with 6 month extensions.

B-2 visa: for tourists who are visiting the U.S. B-2 visas are granted for 6 months. Tourists of some countries may enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

J-1 visa: is for coming to the U.S. to participate in an approved exchange visitor program. Visitor programs can be sponsored by businesses, schools, and various organizations and institutions. Persons eligible include scholars, students, professors, research assistants, job trainees, au pairs, international visitors on cultural missions, and others. The J-1 visa is exempt from FICA withholdings. 

Q visa: used for International Cultural Exchange Programs which have been designated for the purpose of providing practical training, employment and the sharing of the history, culture and traditions of the country of the alien's nationality. 

For Academic and Vocational Students

 F-1 visa: allows aliens to come to the U.S. as full-time academic or language students if they are enrolled in a program which leads to a degree or to a certificate. They may work in a part-time job on campus. They can also work off campus if they can show that it is economically necessary or if the job provides practical training in the student's chosen field.

J-1 visa: is for coming to the U.S. to participate in an approved exchange visitor program. Visitor programs can be sponsored by businesses, schools, and various organizations and institutions. Persons eligible include scholars, students, professors, research assistants, job trainees, au pairs, international visitors on cultural missions, and others. The J-1 visa is exempt from FICA withholdings.  

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): for working off campus during studies. This work authorization is approved one semester at a time.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): for working off campus, usually after the completion of studies. This is a 12 month work authorization. Student in STEM fields may be authorized for an additional 17 months.  OPT can also be granted to students on F-1 visas for temporary authorization to work in the U.S. while going to our universities. OPTs are granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). OPTs don't need approval or review by the Dept. of Labor even though these students are working in jobs that are in most cases identical to those taken by H-1B. 

   Both CPT and OPT are only available to students who have completed one academic year of full-time enrollment in the U.S. For complete details please visit the employment section of our website. 

M-1 visa: for vocational or nonacademic students such as health care technician, machinist, dental hygienist etc. 

For Immigrants Related to US Citizens

Immediate Relative Visa: US citizens are able to petition for certain foreign-born family members to become permanent residents and start on the path to US citizenship. 

Preference Categories: There are several visa types for family members of US citizens:

  • FB-1 (First Preference) - Unmarried sons and daughters 
  • FB-2 (Third Preference) - Married sons and daughters
  • FB-4 (Fourth Preference) - Brothers and sisters

K-1 Fiancée Visa: Fiancées of US citizens are eligible for non-immigrant visas that are good for 90 days

K-3 visa: foreign-born spouses of US citizens residing abroad, to live in the US during the green card process

Process for issuing residence visas ("Green Card"):

  • File petitions for approval in your preference category. Response from USCIS in approximately 90-120 days.
  • After approval, when the visa becomes available, if in the United States, apply to USCIS for adjustment of status to permanent residence; if you are abroad, apply for visa in country of residence and wait for interview at the US Consulate/Embassy nearest your foreign residence. 
  •  Allow 8-15 months for the entire process to be granted a green card.
  • While in the United States, the applicant seeking residence must remain in legal immigration status, while waiting for the visa to become available.
  • Unauthorized employment or staying in the US with an expired visa, bars adjustment of status to permanent residence in the US.

For Families of Permanent Residents

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs or holders of "green cards") may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States and must  provide proof of their relationship:

  • Husband or wife
  • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

Preference Categories: There are two for relatives of LPRs

       FB-2 (Second Preference)

  • F-2A - Spouses and Children  
  • F-2B - Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older)

V visa: for the spouse or children or lawful permanent residents, if the permanent resident has filed a petition for the spouse or child before December 21, 2000 and the petition is still pending. petitions

For Temporary (Non-Immigrant) Employees

E-3 visa: for Australian nationals who enter the U.S. temporarily to work in a specialty occupation. To be eligible for the E-3 visa, an Australian national must be entering the United States temporarily to work for a U.S. employer in a specialty occupation. Australian nationals and their dependents traveling to the U.S. under E-3 visas will be admitted for up to two years. The E-3 visa may be renewed for two year periods indefinitely.

  • allows Australian nationals to work for any U.S. employer in a specialty occupation, where this is accompanied by a job offer. For this reason, it is different from the current E-1 and E-2 visas, which require a direct and significant link between the occupation and international trade and investment between the United States and Australia.
  • affords entry to the professional worker as well as the worker's spouse and minor children. Significantly, unlike many U.S. non-immigrant visas, the E-3 visa allows spouses to apply for authorization to work in the United States for any U.S. Employer.
  • has no impact upon the ability of Australians to apply for other visa categories. In addition, current H-1B and E visa holders may apply for an E-3 visa, and E-3 visa holders remain eligible to apply for any other visa.

H-1B visas: for foreigners that temporarily perform services and can be used for the following:

  • specialty occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge to fully perform the occupation and requires completion of of a specific course of education culminating in a baccalaureate degree in a specific occupational specialty. The term "specialty occupation" is defined under U.S. law in the context of the H-1B visa program. For instance, specialty occupation workers include architects, accountants, engineers, lawyers, physicians, and surgeons (to name a few). Fashion models are exempted from the degree requirements
  • to perform services of an exceptional nature relating to a cooperative research and development project administered by the United States Department of Defense.
  • an artist,  entertainer or fashion model who has national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements, individually or in the case of entertainers,  as part of a group,  to be employed in a capacity requiring someone of distinguished merit and ability. 
  • an artist or entertainer,  individually or as part of a group, in a unique or traditional art form.
  • athletic competition as an athlete,  individually or as part of a group or team,  at a nationally or internationally recognized level of performance. 
  • accompanying support personnel who are highly skilled aliens coming temporarily as an essential and integral part of the competition or performance of a H-1B artist,  entertainer,  or athlete because they perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a US worker and which are essential to the successful performance or services of the H-1B.

The petition MUST be filed by the US employer  with an approved LCA from the DOL, plus

  • evidence that the proposed employment qualifies as within a specialty occupation.
  • evidence that the alien has the required degree by submitting either:a copy of the person's US baccalaureate ~ or higher degree which is required by the specialty occupation;

~  a copy of a foreign degree and evidence it is equivalent to the US degree or evidence of education and experience which is equivalent to the required US degree;

~  a copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment;  and,

~  a copy of of any written contract between you and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under  which the  alien will be employed.

H-1A visa: for foreigners coming to perform services as registered professional nurses. H-1B visas are now used more often for nurses.

H-2A visa: for persons who come to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services on a temporary or a seasonal basis while the H-2B visa is for temporary workers performing non-agricultural temporary services or labor.
  The H-2A is a very detailed program, setting out the wages that must be paid, the free and approved housing that must be offered to US and foreign workers, including the size the windows and the density of the screens on them, the work guarantees, and the requirements that must be satisfied for workers to have their transportation reimbursed.

H-2B visa: a program similar to the H-2A program but without the housing, AEWR, and other worker protections spelled out in detail.

H-3 visas: for Temporary Trainees that come to the U.S. for on-the-job training to be provided by a U.S. employer. The purpose of the training should be to advance their career in their home country where they plan to return to, and where similar training opportunities are unavailable.

I visa:  for foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media personnel.

L-1 visas: used to transfer aliens to the U.S. to work for a U.S. firms, corporations, or other legal entities or their affiliates or subsidiaries of a company which already employs them outside of the U.S. There are two kinds of L Visas. Spouses and children of L-1's enter the U.S.A. with L-2 Visas.

   L-1A is intended for managerial level aliens to reside and work in the United States. It is important that the distinction between L-1A and L-1B's be highlighted. L-1A managers are considered priority workers for the purposes of immigration. Therefore, an L-1A employee may apply for permanent residency as a priority worker, without having to obtain Labor Certification. As a priority worker, the L-1A employee would leap-frog the processes of Labor Certification, resulting in considerable savings of time and money. The L-1A becomes a very attractive route for multinational executives who wish to permanently reside in the United States.

L-1B: for technical workers, such as engineers, etc. to reside and work in the United States. L-1B's, as technical staff persons are not similarly considered as L1As. The L-1B technical worker may not skip the Labor Certification process.
O-1/O-2/O-3: for Extraordinary Ability positions in the field which require outstanding achievements as judged by recognized international experts, published material in professional or major trade publications or newspapers about the alien and his work in the field participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the field or an allied field original scientific or scholarly research contributions of major significance in the field authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media, or evidence the alien commands a high salary or other high remuneration for services

P visas: used for aliens coming temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, under a reciprocal exchange program between the an organization in the  US and organization in another country.

   P-1 visa classification is a work visa that applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group that are internationally recognized (annual limit: 25,000).

   P-2 visa classification is a work visa that applies to artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program.

   P-3 visa classification is a work visa that applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique (same as P-1).

R visas: for foreigners who have been members of a legitimate religious denomination for at least two years and also have a job offer in the U.S. to work for an affiliate of that same religious organization.

   Along with submitting Form I-360, the Immigrant Religious Worker should provide the following documents:

  • Proof that your religious organization is a non-profit organization.
  • A letter from an official of your religious organization in the U.S. stating that you have been a member of the denomination for at least two years, and that you have at least two years experience in your vocation or occupation. The letter should also state certain details about your particular type of vocation or occupation.
  • This letter should also state how you will be paid for your work, and that you do not intend to supplement your income with a second job, or depend on charity for support.

National Interest Waiver: a sub category within the Second Employment Based Preference Category (EB-2). The JOB OFFER and LABOR CERTIFICATION requirements may be waived if the petitioner can show that his skills will substantially benefit the U.S.

To apply for the exemption, the petitioner must submit the I-140, along with a Form ETA 750B, Statement of Qualifications of Alien, in duplicate; and,

Evidence to support the claim that such exemption would be in the national interest. Such evidence includes:

  • letters from experts familiar with Petitioners work
  • educational credentials
  • published works;
  • awards or other recognition for achievements in the field;
  • memberships in exclusive professional associations.

TN (NAFTA): Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to enter the U.S. under the non-immigrant TN status. The TN Visa enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work in the U.S. in a NAFTA-approved professional occupation. The TN visa is similar to the H-1B specialty occupation visa, except that there is no statutory limitation on the term of stay, and it generally covers a broader range of job categories. It is approved instantly with no review process for Canadians but required an LCA for Mexicans. The following are the requirements to be eligible for the TN Visa:

  • The profession must be on the NAFTA list.
  • Foreign national must possess the necessary training for that profession.
  • The proposed position must be classified as a professional position.
  • Foreign national must work for a U.S. employer.

Canadian Citizens may apply for the TN-1 Visa, and Mexican citizens may apply for the TN-2 Visa. The process to obtain a TN-2 Visa is much more complicated than that of the TN-1.

Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to enter the U.S. under the derivative TD-1 and TD-2 visas.

Family members are not required to be Canadian or Mexican citizens and are eligible to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the TN Visa holder's stay. They may either accompany the TN Visa holder to the U.S. or come at a later time.

TN-1 Visa: Canadian citizens applying for the TN-1 Visa must provide the following information at a U.S. port of entry:

  • An official request for TN status.
  • Copies of all relevant college degrees and employment records. This data should prove the applicant is sufficiently qualified for the proposed position. 
  • An offer of employment letter from the sponsoring employer.
  • Proper processing.

Canadian citizens need not obtain Labor Certification. They must simply obtain TN status at a port of entry, after sufficiently proving that the proposed stay is of a temporary nature and providing the following evidence: 

  • Copies of all relevant college degrees and employment records. This data should prove the applicant is sufficiently qualified for the proposed position.

TN-2 Visa: Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for the TN-2 Visa. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • The sponsoring employer must file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor (DOL).
  • The employer must also file a petition for non-immigrant workers on Form I-129 with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services.
  • After approval of the petition, the foreign national must apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.

For Traders and Investors

E visa category: designed for use by business managers, investors, business owners, and employees who are required to stay in the United States for prolonged periods of time to oversee the operations of his business or work for an enterprise that is engaged in trade between the U.S. and a foreign country that has a treaty with the US (E-1) or that represents a substantial investment in the United States (E-2).

The E visa may be obtained from the U.S. Consulate located in the country where the foreign national is a citizen, or from within the United States, by applying for an E status. The E visa is initially valid for two years but may be extended almost indefinitely provided that the E status holder declares that he or she will leave the United States once the period of authorized stay, including any unlimited extensions, terminates.

E-1 Treaty Trader: The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.

The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U. S. must have the nationality of the treaty country.

The international trade must be "substantial" in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.

The trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant's nationality.

Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.

The applicant must be 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 investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.

The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.

The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.

The investor 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.

The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.

Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

EB-5 Investment (Employment Creation) Visa: a category that includes persons who plan to invest in a new enterprise that will benefit the economy of the United States. The commercial enterprise must create at least 10 jobs and meet a certain required minimum capital investment that may vary depending on the location of the enterprise. Immigrant investors who qualify for the employment creation category are admitted to the US on a conditional basis and their investment is reviewed after two years.

The EB-5 Visa provides the most flexible path to a green card based on a US investment. The EB-5 visa does not require the applicant to manage the day-to-day affairs of a business. One may invest in an existing business or a new business. More than one person may invest in the same business. The EB-5 investor may be a minority owner of the business. One may qualify for an EB-5 as follows:

  • Invest $1 million and hire ten employees anywhere in the USA
  • Invest $500,000 and hire ten employees in an area where the unemployment rate exceeds the national average unemployment rate by 150%
  • Invest in a regional center -- INS designated specific areas, called Regional Centers, as eligible to receive immigrant investor capital. INS approved over 20 Regional Centers. Regional Center investors may rely on indirect job creation rather than directly hiring ten employees. A competent professional, such as an economist, must quantify the indirect employment. If the regional center is in a high unemployment area the required capital is reduced to $500,000.

Of the 10,000 investor visas (i.e., EB-5 visas) available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program involving an INS-designated "Regional Center." To date, the quota has not been exceeded.

Humanitarian Relief


For Asylees and Refugees

The U.S. government offers humanitarian assistance to individuals who seek shelter from oppression.  The difference between asylee and refugee turns on where the person is located when making the application. Both asylees and refugees are considered persons who are subject to persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (for example, women opposed to Feminine Genital Mutilation (FGM) who belong to an ethnic group that practices FGM). Additionally, to qualify for either asylum or refugee status, the applicant must demonstrate that their fear of persecution is well-founded and are of special humanitarian concern to the US

Asylee Status:  Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” 

  • granted to individuals who are already in the US
  • applicant fits the requirements of living under threat of persecution
  • already present in the US or seeking admission at a port of entry
  • do not have to have legal immigration status to apply for protection
  • protected from being returned to his or her home country
  • authorized to work in the United States
  • may also be eligible certain benefits, such as Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance.
  • may apply for a Social Security card
  • may request permission to travel overseas
  • can petition to bring family members to the United States 

Two ways to apply for asylum in the US:

  • Affirmative Asylum: A person who is not in removal proceedings may affirmatively apply for asylum through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If the USCIS asylum officer does not grant the asylum application and the applicant does not have a lawful immigration status, he or she is referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings, where he or she may renew the request for asylum through the defensive process and appear before an immigration judge.
  • Defensive Asylum: A person who is in removal proceedings may apply for asylum defensively by filing the application with an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice. In other words, asylum is applied for “as a defense against removal from the U.S.” 

Refugee Status: To qualify for refugee status in the United States, you must meet the definition of a refugee above, plus: 

  • granted to people who are still outside the US  (cannot apply for refugee relief inside the United States; If already in the U.S., may be eligible to apply for asylum)
  • fits requirements regarding persecution
  • must be referred by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or a U.S. Embassy, or must be a member of a specified group with special characteristics in certain countries. The embassy will provide assistance in gathering the required paperwork, completion of the application, and, if approved, relocation assistance
  • can be labeled admissible for legal entry into the US
  • must not be firmly resettled in another country.  This is defined by whether or not applicant has been offered resident status or citizenship in that country.
  • must not be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or a special immigrant  (in this case, must apply for an immigrant visa instead).

Both asylum status and refugee status require strict compliance with processing requirements.

   Unlike the criminal court system, there is no appointed counsel for asyless or individuals in immigration court, even if they are unable to retain an attorney on their own.

For Displaced Immigrants

Temporary Protected Status (TPS): applies to foreigners already in the US wishing to avoid going back to their homeland because of civil strife or upheaval due to environmental or natural disasters (such as hurricanes or earthquakes), an outbreak of disease, ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war), or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that have made it unsafe to return. An Immigration Judge (IJ) or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) may gran TPS—order and approved application go to USCIS

   TPS beneficiaries who are found preliminarily eligible upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):

  • are nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries),
  • are individuals without nationality who last resided in designated country
  • may remain in the US for a limited period
  • cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status
  • are not removable from the United States
  • can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) 
  • may be granted travel authorization
  • cannot be detained on basis of his or her immigration status in the US

Designated Countries (2019):  

  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

For Undocumented Immigrants

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA): defers deportation proceedings for two years for qualified individuals who were brought to the United States when they were children and entered without inspection (EWI = unathotized). The program provides work authorization. DACA can be renewed. 

The USCIS doesn't accept new DACA applications at this time. 

   The program doesn’t grant a path to citizenship, and even though recipients have deportation deferred, they still do not have lawful status. 

For Victims of Crime

petit visas petitions ions U Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes

Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card. 

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization, and access public benefits. VAWA provides domestic violence survivors with the means that are essential to escaping violence and establishing safe, independent lives. 

T Visa: Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency, but they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs.