Visas to reside in the United States

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Types of Visas for the United States

Oxford together with a pre-identified group of independent, immigration attorneys to which clients may be recommended, offers a “one-stop” consulting service for Visas.

Our services, in addition to those of recommended attorneys, which include:

  • Instruction on the visas that are available and identification of which is the most adequate for each case
  • Complete listing of requirements and necessary documents
  • Assistance with filling out forms
  • Monitoring of the entire process until government authorities verify that all the documentation is in order

There are more than 62 Visas available in the United States.


The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign companies to relocate certain employees or a partner to the United States for a period of up to seven years.  The employee or partner must have worked for a subsidiary, branch-office or affiliate of the foreign company for at least one continuous year within the previous three years prior to admission in the US. The employee must have worked in an executive or managerial capacity, or must prove to have specialized knowledge.

Companies operating in the United States can file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for an L-1 visa to transfer an employee from their overseas operation to the US. Such employees will initially be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.

What rights does the carrier of an L-1 visa have?

There is no annual limit to how many L-1 visas can be issued. One can simultaneously apply for permanent resident status while being a holder of an L-1 visa.


·        Must have a qualified relationship with a foreign company for at least one continuous year within the previous three years prior to admission in the US.

·        Must currently be, or will be conducting business in the United States and at least one other country. It is not a requirement for the business to operate in international trade.

·        Applicant must have worked in an executive or managerial capacity without direct supervision from others.

·        Installation of a new office in the United States that will support the jobs created in accordance with the business plan.

·        Proof that the foreign company will not suffer from the absence of the executive or manager.


·        Worker is initially granted a stay of one year. An extension of stay in increments of two more years can be applied for until the worker has reached the limit of a maximum of seven years.

·        The spouse of the petitioner and unmarried children under the age of 21 also qualify.

·        L-1 visa gives you the right to apply for permanent residence (green card).


E-2: – Treaty Investors

The E-2 visa allows a citizen of a treaty country (country with which the United States shares a bilateral treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted in the US when there is an investment of “substantial” capital and active involvement in a pre-existing business, new business or a franchise in the United States. The investor must possess 50% of the shares of a bona fide business established in the US.

The E-2 program issues a temporary visa of 5 years. There is no limit to how many times the E-2 visa can be renewed.


·        Must be a citizen of a country with which the United States maintains a bilateral treaty of commerce and navigation.

·        Must have invested, or be actively involved in the investment process, a substantial amount of capital in a bona-fide company in the United States.

·        Must be seeking entry to the United States solely to develop and manage the company of investment. This can be established by showing a minimum of 50% ownership of the company or possession of operational control through a managerial position or via another corporate device.


·        Maximum initial stay of 2 years. Requests for extensions are granted in 2-year increments. There is no limit to how many times the E-2 visa can be renewed.

·        The spouse of the petitioner and unmarried children under the age of 21 also qualify.

·        The treaty investor or employee may only work in the capacity that was approved, and only with the same company.


The EB-5 visa program requires an investment of $1,000,000, or an investment of $500,000 in a Regional Center approved by the USCIS. It allows a foreign investor to qualify for a Green Card without the constraints of having to manage the business in the US.

The foreign investor is able to live anywhere in the United States, and become involved in a business activity of his or her choosing. The investor also has the option to become employed in the US, or to simply retire.


·        The investment capital of $1 million or $500 thousand must originate from a legitimate source

·        Investor must not have a prior criminal record

·        The new business is required to create 10 new full-time employment positions in the United States


·        The spouse of the petitioner and unmarried children under the age of 21 also qualify

·        An immigration law created in 1990 allows foreign citizens to obtain a Green Card

·        10,000 Green Cards are issued annually to qualified immigrants who participate in the EB-5 Program

·        Investors are not obligated to live in the state where the investment is made. They are free to choose to live anywhere in the United States

·        The EB-5 program offers a comfortable and secure form of investment to those who are not interested in the day-to-day management and operation of a business

Other types of available visas:


E Visa

E-1 and E-2 visas are available to citizens of countries that share a bilateral treaty of commerce and navigation, or a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with the United States. The E-1 “Treaty Trader” visa is projected specifically towards foreign entrepreneurs, business managers or employees that must come to the United States for a prolonged period of time to supervise or work for a company dedicated to conducting business between the United States and the treaty country. The E-2 “Investor” visa is available to a foreign national that is a citizen of a treaty country who seeks to enter the United States solely to develop or supervise the operation of a company that he or she has invested in, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.

Bilateral investment treaties (BIT) allow for E-2 Treaty investor status only, whereby Free Trade Agreements (including NAFTA and Fast Track) allow for both E-1 and E-2 visas.



The EB-1A visa classification applies to foreign nationals of Extraordinary Ability who can demonstrate that they have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.  These candidates may apply for EB-1A status without having a prior job offer (i.e. an employer’s sponsorship). Any foreign national living in the United States or abroad may apply given he/she meets the following requirements:

The immigrant must show extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, arts, education or athletics, which may be proven through sustained national or international acclaim.

The achievements of the immigrant in his/her respective field must be recognized through extensive documentation.

To establish that the immigrant is a leading member in his/her respective field, there shall be proof of receipt of an internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize or other documents that clearly identify his/her extraordinary ability.



Outstanding Professors and Researchers Visa (EB-1B)

An “Outstanding Professor or Researcher” EB-1B immigrant visa is for a foreign national that is internationally recognized in his/her respective academic or scientific field.

A job offer for a permanent position as a researcher or tenured professor: Generally the job offer is through a university or other academic or scientific institution, but can also be issued by a private employer. In the event that the employment opportunity is offered through a private party, the employer must have at least three full time researchers, along with the necessary documentation to demonstrate the achievements within their respective fields.

As with all employment-based first preference applications, a Labor Certification is not required to obtain and EB-1B visa. However, the foreign national seeking permanent resident status through an EB-1B classification as an Outstanding Professor or Researcher must have a job offer with the sponsoring employer that is presenting the application on the foreigner’s behalf.



The EB-1C visa was created for executives and managers that meet the requirements of the L-1A visa, and are interested in becoming permanent legal residents. The L1-A status is offered to those who hold an executive or managerial position and are coming to the United States on a temporary basis. As such, the main difference between the L-1A and EB-1C is the permanent nature of the EB-1C visa. Although having L1-A status in not a prerequisite for obtaining the immigrant benefits in this category, an applying immigrant will have a stronger case in acquiring an EB-1C classification if he/she is previously in L1-A status.

An EB-1C visa is a fantastic option for start-up or small foreign businesses to expand their operations to the United States. It will allow companies to transfer a highly proficient manager or executive employee with direct knowledge of the company’s operations, with the aim of opening an affiliate office in the United States, conforming to the goals and objectives of the company’s foreign headquarters.



An H1-B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows for American companies to employ foreign professionals for up to six years. Applying for a nonimmigrant visa is generally faster than applying for a Green Card. When it’s necessary for a team of professionals to stay in the United States for an extended period, they are most commonly brought via a nonimmigrant visa, such as the H1-B.

Foreign individuals themselves are not permitted to apply for an H1-B to be allowed to work in the US. The petitioning employer is required to file the application on behalf of the prospective employee. H1-B visas are subject to a limited number of annual entries, which is determined by the US Government.

Employers may initiate the application process for the H-1B visa six months prior to the commencement day of the petitioned employment. For example, if the start date of the applicant’s employment is on October 01, 2016, the application process may begin as early as April 01, 2016, however, the beneficiary may not begin work until October 1st.

The H1-B visa is designed for professionals in “specialty occupations”, which require a high degree of specialized knowledge. Generally, the equivalent of a four-year bachelors degree or higher from an American academic institution is required (it’s possible for this requirement to be filled with a bachelors degree of three years and three years of relevant postgraduate work experience). However, professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants, among others, should hold a license to practice within the state of the prospective employment.

Candidates who do not meet the educational requirements can become employed with an H1-B visa when providing proof of having the equivalent of a postgraduate degree by virtue of twelve years or more of experience in a specific field.  In the event the employment position is not considered to be a “specialized occupation”, or for candidates that do not possess the proper qualifications or experience for an H1-B visa, a more appropriate option would be to apply for an H-2B visa.



The H-2B visa is a temporary work program in the United States.

It provides the opportunity to visit the United States and to earn a legal wage during your stay.

The petitioner must have a contract of employment approved by the employer. This visa does not require the petitioner to attend a university



Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Visitor. The visa allows eligible foreign workers to temporarily enter the United States as a trainee to receive instruction in any endeavor, other than graduate medical training, that is not available in the foreign national’s home country.  A foreign national may also enter the US as a special education exchange visitor.


O Visa

“O” Visa

This is a unique type of nonimmigrant work visa for a foreign national who possesses extraordinary ability in athletics, arts or academics.

It’s a complex visa with respect to the preparation of the necessary documents and other forms of proof that demonstrate that the candidate has risen to the very top of his/her respective field of endeavor.


O-1 Visa

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa can be particularly useful for highly talented or acclaimed foreign nationals that do not qualify for other types of visas. The O visa can be used for any field of endeavor in the United States.

How long can a holder of an O-1 visa remain in the United States?

The USCIS has imposed an initial stay of no more than three years, however, this period may be extended in one-year increments thereafter, upon providing evidence showing that the continued presence of the foreign national is required. The O-1 visa can potentially lead to acquiring a Green Card.

How to obtain the O-1 visa

Each case in the application process for an O-1 visa must be well documented with proof that all the legal requisites are being fulfilled. The evidence to be presented will depend on the circumstances and must authenticate the candidate’s extraordinary ability. However, “extraordinary” implies an extremely high standard applied to candidates who are scientists, business professionals, educators and athletes. The requirements for artists and animators in the television and motion picture industries are not quite as strict.

The first step is to have the employer or agent in the United States to present a petition to the offices of the USCIS. The petition should include a written affidavit from the appropriate issuing agency, if available.

O-1A visa: Must demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, academics, business or athletics.

O-1B visa: Must demonstrate extraordinary ability in the arts or achievements in the motion picture or television industry.

O-2 visa: The O-2 visa classification is for foreign nationals who are accompanying and providing assistance to an artist or athlete using an O-1 visas.

O-3 visa: The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an applicant of an O-1 and O-2 visa qualify.


P Visa

The nonimmigrant P category was created for athletes or artists that are unable to or choose not to classify for the O visa. The P visa is designed for professional artists/entertainers and athletes who will earn wages for their work performed in the United States.

P-1 visa – Specifically designed for individuals with internationally acclaimed ability who will temporarily travel to the United States in order to participate in sanctioned athletic competitions. For individual athletes the duration of stay is up to 5 years. For athletic teams, the allowed stay is up to 1 year.

P-2 visa – Artists and entertainers under Reciprocal Exchange. The P-2 visa is available to artists and entertainment groups, and their support personnel for entering the United States to perform under a reciprocal exchange program between the U.S. and one or more foreign countries.

P-3 visa – Classification that applies to artists or entertainers, whether individually or as a group, that are coming to the United States for the purpose to teach or coach a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical or artistic performance or presentation.

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a holder of a P-3 visa are eligible to enter the United States by obtaining a P-4 visa.



Temporary cultural or educational exchange visa:

The nonimmigrant J-1 visa is meant for applicants who intend to participate in cultural or educational exchange programs.

The petitioner must fulfill all the necessary requirements and be accepted to an exchange program through a designated sponsoring organization.

Examples of J-1 visa programs:

·        Au pair and EduCare programs

·        University student programs

·        High school student programs

·        Summer work and travel programs

·        Professor exchange programs

·        Training programs

·        Among other programs


The information mentioned above was obtained on the USCIS website

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The information mentioned above was obtained on the USCIS website

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