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Overview of Business Visas from the United States
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This is a snapshot of some of the visas available to work permanently or temporarily in the United States, or to travel to the U.S. for business. As with all legal issues, many conditions and nuances not covered here. More details and can be found at Travel.state.gov and USCIS.gov.  

 Consultation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or an attorney experienced in U.S. business visas, is recommended. Underlined text below either contains a link to the appropriate webpage or a comment that will appear below the table as a footnote.

E or L Visa Programs
For more information on investing in Pinellas County with
the E or L Visa Programs, please contact:

Brent Barkway, CGBP
Business Development Manager
bbarkway@pinellascounty.org
(727) 464-7411

H or B Visa Programs 
For more information or help with H or B Visas, please click here.

DOWNLOAD THIS TABLE

Visa

Purpose

Requirements

Stay Duration

Extensions

Permanent Work in the USA

EB-5

Immigrant Investor Program

To stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.

· Investors who invest $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area[DB1]) in a new commercial enterprise [DB2]and employ at least 10 full-time U.S. workers within 2 years, or

· Purchase an existing business resulting in a “substantial change[DB3]” in the net worth or number of employees, or both.

Permanent residence is granted if the requirements are met.

 

Temporary Work in the USA

E-1

Treaty Trader

To allow a national of a country with which the US has a treaty of commerce and navigation to engage in international trade on their own behalf.

· Be a national of a country [DB4]with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

· Conduct substantial trade[DB5], more than 50% of which is between the U.S. and treaty country.

· The employer and employee are a national of the treaty country.

· Be an executive or supervisor, or have special qualifications.

Two years.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

Two-year extensions with no limit to the number of extensions.

E-2

Treaty Investor

To allow a substantial investment in to a US business by a national of a country with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

· Be a national of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

· Have invested, or actively in the process of investing, substantial capital in an actively operating U.S. enterprise[DB6].

· Entering the U.S. solely to develop and direct the enterprise with 50% ownership or operational control.

Two years.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

Two-year extensions with no limit to the number of extensions.

H-1B

Person in Specialty Occupation

To work in a specialty occupation, in a Dept. of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or as a fashion model.

· A Bachelor’s or higher degree, a license; hold a registration or certification; have experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of a degree and expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions, or

· Be a fashion model of “distinguished merit and ability.[DB7]”.

Up to three years.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

To a total of six years

H-2B

Temporary Non-agricultural Worker

For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work.

· There are not enough U.S. workers able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.

· Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

· The need for services or labor is temporary, whether the underlying job is temporary or not.

The period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification.

Increments of up to 1 year, a maximum stay of 3 years.

H-3

Trainee or Special Education visitor

To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

· The training is not available in the trainee’s native country[DB1];

· The trainee will not be placed in a position in the business’ normal operation in which U.S. citizens and resident workers are employed;

· The individual will not engage in employment unless it is incidental and necessary to the training; and

· The trainee will benefit when pursuing a career outside the U.S.

2 years for a trainee, 18 months for a special education exchange visitor.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

 

L-1A

Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

To allow a U.S. employer [DB2]to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its US offices or to establish a US office.

· Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company that is, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and another country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of their stay in the U.S.

· Worked for the organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding entering the U.S.

· Provide an executive or managerial service in the U.S. for a branch of the same employer or one of its organizations.

· Be an executive making decisions of wide latitude without much oversight and managing, supervising, and controlling the work of professional employees.

One year to establish a new office, otherwise three years.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

Increments of up to an additional two years for a maximum of seven years.

L-1B

Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge

To allow a U.S. employer to transfer one of its professional. specialized knowledge employees from one of its affiliated foreign offices to its US office or to establish an US office.

· Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company that is, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and another country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the applicant’s stay in the U.S.

· Worked for the organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding entering the U.S.

· Provide specialized knowledge services to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

· Have special knowledge [DB3]of the organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, etc. and its application in global markets, or an advanced level of expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

One year to establish a new office, otherwise three years.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

Increments of up to an additional two years for a maximum of five years.

Temporary Business Travel to the USA

B-1

Temporary Business Visitor

To participate in commercial or professional business activities in the USA.

· The trip to enter the U.S. for business is of a legitimate nature.

· The stay is for a specific limited period of time.

· Proof that funds exist to cover the travel expenses.

· The person has no intention of abandoning their residence outside the U.S. and has other binding ties ensuring their return.

1 to 6 months.

 

Please consult the reciprocity table for guidance on an applicant’s nationality.

Can be extended and, in some cases re-extended, up to 1 year or more..

 


 [DB1]Note that the trainee must have a foreign residence to which he or she intends to return.

 [DB2]“U.S. employer” has been defined to include a foreign firm, corporation, or other legal entity that is or will be doing business as an employer in the United States.

 [DB3]Specialized knowledge "professionals" must have advanced training or a college degree.


 [DB1]A targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.

 [DB2]In general, creation of a new commercial enterprise can involve either the creation of an original business or the purchase of an existing business and simultaneously or subsequently restructuring or reorganization it such that a new commercial enterprise results.

 [DB3]In general, “substantial change” means a 40 percent increase in the net worth, or the number of employees (but not less than 20), so that the new net worth, or number of employees, amounts to at least 140 percent of the pre-expansion net worth or number of employees or both.

 [DB4][1] When the trader/investor is an organization and the applicant is an employee, nationality is determined by the nationality of 50 percent of the owners of the stock of the trader/investor organization.

 [DB5]For purposes of this visa, “trade” is generally defined as being an exchange that is international in scope and involves binding contracts regarding said exchange of goods and/or services.  In the case of trade in services, such service must be the purpose of that business and must be the saleable commodity which the enterprise sells to clients. 

 [DB6]For purposes of this visa, note that the investment cannot be extended to a non-profit organization.

 [DB7]“Distinguished merit and ability” is defined as the attainment of a high level of achievement in the field of fashion modeling evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person is described as prominent, renowned, leading, or well-known in the field.


Created by: Clearwater Export Assistance Center, US Commercial Service, US Department of Commerce, Clearwater, Florida.  23 January 2018

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