TN Work Visas for Mexican and Canadian citizens (NAFTA)
L-1, L-1 Blanket, and L-2 Visas
H-1B and H-4 Work Visas
E-1 and E-2 Investor Visas
TN visas were approved after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. The TN visa is a non-immigrant visa and it allows qualified professional workers from Mexico and Canada to work temporarily at established businesses in the United States. A TN visa petition must meet the following conditions.
Most positions on the approved list in NAFTA require a bachelor’s degree or it’s international equivalent. However, some positions only require a specific number of years of relevant work experience.
The L-1 visa is utilized by international companies to internally transfer professional employees to provide services in the U.S. similar to those served in the company abroad. The beneficiary should have worked for at least one year in the past three years at the company abroad in an executive, managerial, or specialty occupation role. The beneficiary of an L-1 visa comes to the U.S. to work at a related company to the company abroad (affiliate, subsidiary, etc.) in an executive, managerial, or specialty occupational role.
The L-1 Blanket program is designed to allow large multinational companies to move executives, managers, and specialty occupation employees to the U.S. with a shorter waiting period for visa adjudication compared to regular L-1 visas.
The L-2 visa is for immediate family members of the L-1 beneficiary (spouse and children under 21 years old). This visa allows family members to stay in the U.S. during the L-1 beneficiary’s period of approved stay. In addition, those who carry an L-2 visa can obtain a U.S. work permit, study full-time in the U.S., and travel freely within and outside of the United States as they wish.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa can be given to employment applicants seeking temporary work in the U.S. in a “specialty occupation” that requires professional abilities. Specialty occupations include, for example: architects, mathematicians, accountants, computer systems analysts, programmers, database administrators, web designers, engineers, financial analysts, doctors, nurses, scientists, and attorneys, among others.
H-1B petitions are completed by employers based on their need to hire non-residents of the United States. This visa allows the beneficiary only to work for the sponsoring company to complete the activities described in the petition. The beneficiary should possess a bachelor’s degree (or it’s international equivalent) or comply with the required work experience.
The H-4 visa is for immediate family members of the L-1 beneficiary (spouse and children). This visa allows family members to stay in the U.S. during the H-1B beneficiary’s period of approved stay. Those who carry an H-4 visa can study full-time in the U.S. but they cannot obtain a U.S. work permit.
E-1 Visa: The E-1 visa is for citizens of countries with which the U.S. maintains a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation. E-1 visa applicants come to the U.S. with the plan to develop substantial commerce between the U.S. and country of origin. The visa holder must occupy an executive or supervisory position, or possess essential knowledge and skills for the satisfactory operation of the company.
The initial visa duration is between two and five years and it can be extended indefinitely. The spouse and children of the E-1 visa holder can enter and travel throughout the U.S. and abroad, including studying in the U.S. full-time. Further, the E-1 holder’s spouse can obtain a U.S. work permit.
E-2 Visa: Individuals who want to invest in the U.S. can obtain an E-2 visa if the applicant is a citizen of a country that maintains an Investment Treaty with the United States. The reason for entry should be to develop and direct operations of a company that has or is in the process of making a substantial investment.
The spouse and children of the E-2 visa holder can enter and travel throughout the U.S. and abroad, including studying in the U.S. full-time. Further, the E-1 holder’s spouse can obtain a U.S. work permit.
If you would like to review the list of countries with which the U.S. maintains treaties click here .
O-1 Talent and Extraordinary Ability Visas
B Tourism and Business Visas
The O-1 visa is a temporary visa available for individuals with extraordinary abilities at a national and international level in science, art, education, business and sports. Individuals with extraordinary achievements in movies or television can also apply for an O-1 visa.
To obtain the O-1 visa the applicant must have a sponsor to provide employment in a specific position. For example, a professional baseball player would need either a baseball team offering a position or an agent to act as the sponsor. If the applicant is a musician a music group or orchestra can sponsor the visa. An actor would need a studio to sponsor the visa.
Duration of the Status: An O-1 visa holder is admitted into the U.S. for the duration of the event, production or activity, which should not exceed more than three years. However, the O-1 visa can be extended until the holder completes his or her assignments and responsibilities of the position.
Family members: The spouse and non-married children of the O-1 visa holder have the right to obtain O-3 visas to come to the U.S. with the principle O-1 visa holder.
Tourism B-2: This non-immigrant visa is typically used to enter the U.S. as a tourist or for business trips. One can use this visa to visit, vacation, complete work-related training (but not work), or to attend business conferences. Some even use this visa while seeking medical treatment in the United States.
Business B-1: Those who hold a B-1 visa cannot, in general, receive a salary or payments by U.S. sources. The business-person’s activity is limited to contract negotiation, business consulting, litigation, participation in conventions (scientific, educational, professional, and business), conferences or seminars, and other legitimate activities by merchants, professionals, and entrepreneurs.