NO DOC FOREIGN
An Overview of U.S. Non-Immigrant
With the exception of the "million dollar
investor" category, most individuals seeking to live permanently in the
United States must first enter through a temporary visa. The United States
Government refers to such visas as "nonimmigrant visas," and these range
from the routine B-1/B-2 Tourists/Business Visa to highly specialized
categories for entertainers, artists and multi-national employees.
What follows below is a very brief summary of each of the visa categories.
The purpose of these summaries are to assist you in evaluating whether you
may be eligible for any particular working visa in the United States. Please
bear in mind that the immigration laws are under constant change and that
some of the information contained herein may or may not apply to the
specific facts of your particular case.
The "Business Visitor" visa is the most commonly utilized category for
persons initiating business activity in the United States. (B-1 visa
applications rarely require the assistance of an attorney.) The visa is
issued upon the merits of the individual applying; ordinarily, it is not
necessary to retain counsel in applying for a B-1 visa. The B-1 allows an
individual to incorporate in the U.S., acquire property, sign contracts,
etc.; it precludes the individual from directly managing any U.S. business
or in any way receiving wages from a U.S. source, even if self-owned.
The "Intracompany Transferee" category is available to individuals who
either own or are employees of a foreign corporation in which they have
worked for at least one of the prior three years, in an executive,
managerial, or specialized-knowledge capacity. The employer must be a U.S.
corporation related directly, in any one of a variety of ways, to the
foreign company. The L-1 visa carries a maximum approval of seven years, but
is perhaps the most direct conduit to permanent residency in the United
The "Treaty Trader" category is available to individuals from nations which
have signed a treaty of trade and commerce with the United States. The
Treaty Trader visa is available for an unlimited number of years and allows
the spouse and minor dependents of the recipient to live and attend school
in the United States. While many large corporations involved in
import/export utilize the category, it is most frequently used by small to
mid-size companies seeking a permanent trading presence in the United
Like the E-1, the E-2 "Treaty Investor" allows a foreign individual or
corporation to invest actively in a U.S. business and remain in the U.S.
while operating and managing it. Like the E-1, it has no limit on the number
of years and does not require an unabandoned foreign residence. The Treaty
Investor visa is not limited to any particular type of business and it can
include restaurants, manufacturing, and virtually any other type of activity
permissible by law.
The O visa is set aside for aliens of " extraordinary" ability in the
sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, certain aliens
accompanying or assisting those aliens, and their family members. The
fundamental requirement for an O visa is to have reached the top of the
profession or endeavor for which the alien seeks admittance into the United
States. The beneficiary of an O visa may remain in the States until the
event, project or activity for which the alien is admitted is completed. The
initial period of stay can be sought for three years and thereafter one year
increments may be sought to complete the activity, event or project. An
employer must petition for the O alien; the petition must be submitted only
after the employer consults with a peer group, labor organization, or
management organization regarding the work to be performed and the alien's
qualifications. In most cases the consultation takes the form of a written
advisory opinion from a peer group.
The P visa category covers those entertainers and athletes who cannot
qualify under the extraordinary ability standard of the O category. The
category covers alien athletes who compete individually or as part of a team
at an internationally recognized level and aliens who perform with or, are
an integral and essential part of the performance of, an entertainment group
that has received international recognition as "outstanding" for a
"sustained and substantial period of time."
NOTE: This web site does NOT provide legal
advice. For information only. You should consult a qualified legal advisor
on any immigration issue.
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