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Non Immigrant Visas

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Nonimmigrant work visas were established for people who want to enter the United States temporarily in order to work legally in a particular field. 


The key word is temporarily. They are distinguishable from green cards in that nonimmigrant work visas only give a finite period of time  usually from one to three years  at which point the visa holder is required to either extend/change his status, or go home. 


So why get a nonimmigrant work visa if it is only temporary? Because nonimmigrant visas have several advantages: 


  • They are substantially quicker to get, which is important when one is offered a position to commence within a month or two


  • They are usually cheaper to obtain


What follows are descriptions of the work visas that we most frequently get at our firm. This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it a substitute for legal advice, so please contact us if you have specific questions (please click on each for details).

L-1 Visa: Intracompany Transferree

An L-1 visa is a special type of work visa in which an executive or upper level manager, or a worker with specialized knowledge, is transferred from the foreign branch of a multinational company to the U.S. branch  even if the U.S. branch is a brand new office. 


In order to obtain this visa, we have to prove several things:


1.That the U.S. company and the foreign company are essentially the same employer, or are affiliated, or one is a subsidiary of the other, or that there is 50% or more common ownership between the two. 


2.That both branches/companies are currently and actively engaging in business. 


3.That the applicant was previously employed by the foreign company for one or more years out of the last three years. 


4.That the applicant was employed either (a) as an executive or upper-level manager, or (b) as a worker with specialized knowledge of the company or its products or services.



To qualify for an L-1 visa as a manager, the applicant must primarily:
manage the organization, or a department or function of the organization
supervise the work of either professionals or other supervisors or managers, or manage an essential function within the organization
have authority to hire, fire or recommend personnel action, or function at a senior level within hierarchy or function, AND -exercise discretion over day-to-day operations of activity or function.


Specialized knowledge means a special knowledge of the company's product, services, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its/their respective application in international markets  or an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company. 

In determining whether a persons knowledge is specialized, the government looks at the following characteristics:

whether the worker possesses knowledge that is valuable to the employers competitiveness in the marketplace;
whether the worker is uniquely qualified to contribute to the U.S. employers knowledge of foreign operating conditions;
whether the worker has been utilized as a key employee abroad and has been given significant assignments which have enhanced the employers productivity, competitiveness, image or financial position; whether the worker possesses knowledge that can be gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.

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