Physicians (“International Medical Graduates”) mostly participate in a residency program under the J-1 visa that requires two (2) years of home residency after completion of the residency program. If they choose to stay and work in the United States, they have to apply for waiver through an Intergovernmental Agency (“IGA”) program with any states under the Conrad 30 program, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority, and Veterans Affairs. In some cases, they may be eligible to seek a waiver under the exceptional hardship category through a U.S. citizen spouse or children, orif they are able to prove fear of persecution if they return to the home country. Physicians should begin the immigration process even before the completion of medical school, to guarantee completion of all of the testing and license requirements. A qualified immigration attorney can advise foreign physicians to help navigate the complex process of securing employment in the United States.
E-1 TREATY TRADERS VISA
The E-1 visa is readily available to foreign nationals whose countries have a reciprocal treaty agreement with the United States. In order to be eligible for this visa, the treaty trader must carry on substantial trade, with over 50% of the total volume of international trade should be between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country. There is no pre-determined dollar value to the amount of trade, but there should be frequent exchanges of trade involved. For more details click here.
E-2 TREATY INVESTORS VISA
The E-2 visa is available to foreign nationals whose countries have a reciprocal treaty with the United States. To be eligible, the treaty investor must invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. There is no official definition for what creates a substantial investment, but it must have the capacity to generate more income than what is required for the treaty investor and the investor’s family to live on. For more details click click here.
TEMPORARY WORK VISAS
E-3 AUSTRALIAN VISA
Australian citizens may apply for this visa to work in professional fields in the United States. The U.S. employer must pay the prevailing wage, and the job must be classified as a “specialty occupation.” The Australian citizen should have at least a bachelor’s degree and the U.S. job should be related to that degree. For more details click here.
H-1B SPECIALTY OCCUPATIONS VISAS
This is the most popular employment visa to the United States. The visa is for professional workers with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The visa requires the U.S. employer pay the foreign worker a prevailing wage or the actual wage that is being paid to a U.S. worker with similar education and experience, and the job must be in a specialty occupation related to the worker’s field of study. Only 85,000 visas are available annually, out of which 20,000 are reserved for those applicants who have completed a Master’s or higher degree program in the United States, and 6,800 of which are reserved for Chileans and Singaporeans. In recent years, the USCIS has held a lottery to determine which workers will be able to obtain the visa, and acceptance rates are typically around 40%. H1-B visas that are awarded to U.S. educational institutions and government research institutions are not subjected to the cap. Each year USCIS begins accepting applications for new H1-B visas on April 1, with a job start date of October 1. For more details click here.
J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM
A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. The J-1 Visa provides innumerable opportunities for international candidates looking to travel and gain experience in the United States. The multilayered programs enable foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. For more details click here.
L-1 INTRACOMPANY TRANSFER
The L-1 visa enables an employer to transfer a managerial or executive employee, or an employee with specialized knowledge, to the United States for work at a branch or subsidiary of the foreign company. The employee must have spent at least one of the prior three years working for the foreign company to be eligible for the L-1 visa. A multinational company may obtain an L-1 visa to send a managerial or executive employee to the United States to open a new office there. For more details click here.
O-1 VISAS FOR WORKERS WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
This visa is available to foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or those who have a proven record of significant success in the motion picture or television industry. To obtain an O visa, you should be recognized nationally or internationally for your achievements, and should show continual commendation, and demonstrate that you have risen to the top of your field. Without having a career-defining achievement, such as an Academy Award or an Emmy, you must meet a minimum of three criteria that validate your extraordinary achievements. The criteria differ slightly depending on which subset of O visa you fall into. However, for all O visas, it is vital to gather any articles or other media about you and your work. Other criteria include membership in exclusive professional associations, experience judging the work of others in your field, and a high salary in relation to others in your field. Prior to applying for the O visa, you must obtain a consultation letter from an appropriate peer group that attests to your abilities or a “non-objection letter” from a labor union that will not disfavor your employment here. The O-2 visa is for workers who assist an O-1 visa holder. For more details click here.
P-VISAS FOR INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED ATHLETES AND ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
The P-1 classification applies only if you are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally known level of performance. P-2 visas are for individual and group performing artists participating in a common exchange program. P-3 visas are for culturally unique artists or entertainers. You must obtain a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization. For more details click here.
R-1 RELIGIOUS VISAS
This visa program is designed for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as notable from secular members of the religion. This visa allows them to work in the U.S for a period of up to 5 years, and visa recipients can ultimately apply for a green card for permanent residency. In order to qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having an authentic non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years approximately before the filing of the petition. For more details click here
TN TRADE NAFTA
This visa is available to Canadians and Mexicans as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Jobs that qualify for a TN are provided on NAFTA’s specifically designated list. Canadians apply for TN visas at land borders or airports. Mexican citizens must apply at a U.S. consulate. The visas are valid for up to three years and can be renewed indefinitely. For more details click here.
EMPLOYMENT IMMIGRATION (GREEN CARD)
EB-1 is an employment-based, first-preference visa open to those who exhibit extraordinary ability, who may be an outstanding professor or researcher, or may be a multinational executive or manager. Each of these categories are defined as follows:
● Extraordinary Ability: Individuals who qualify exhibit notable ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, and are nationally or internationally known. Extensive documentation must be provided as proof of achievements. Offer of employment is not a requisite.
● Outstanding Professor or Researcher: Individuals who qualify are recognized for outstanding achievements in their respective fields, in which they must have at least three years of experience in teaching or research. In exchange for permanent residency, they must pursue a tenure or tenure track or comparable research position at an institution of higher education.
● Multinational Manager or Executive: Individuals who qualify have been working outside of the United States in a managerial or executive position for at least one out of the three years preceding the petition. They must continue service for same corporation or firm in the U.S., whether it's with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary, in order to gain permanent residency.
Applicants for the former two categories must meet a certain number of criteria from an extensive list established by USCIS. Our office can provide further details during your consultation with us.
EB-2 is an employment-based, second preference visa reserved for professionals who hold an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who exhibits an exceptional ability. The predefined categories are:
● Advanced Degree: Qualified individuals are pursuing a job in the U.S. that requires an advanced degree or its equivalent (a U.S baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent degree along with five years of progressive experience in the field).
● Exceptional Ability: Qualified individuals display exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability is defined as "a degree of expertise [that is] significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business."
● National Interest Waiver: Qualified individuals are employed in the U.S. and contribute greatly to the nation's benefit. They may self-petition and file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with Form I-140. Applicants must provide documentation that meets certain criteria established by the USCIS, including official academic records, membership in a professional association(s), recognition for achievements, and more.
EB-3 is an employment based, third preference visa that provides lawful permanent residence in the U.S. to professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers with a permanent offer of employment in the United States.
In order to qualify for an EB-3 green card, the applicant must have a permanent, full time job offer from a U.S. employer for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. Professionals must possess a baccalaureate degree, or degree equivalent, that is required for entry into their occupation. Skilled workers must be able to demonstrate at least 2 years of job experience or training. Other workers must be undertaking unskilled labor that requires less than 2 years of training or experience. Applicants will also need to meet health and character requirements.
EB-5 IMMIGRANT INVESTORS
EB-5, an immigrant investor visa, can be applied for through the Immigrant investors program overseen by the U.S. government office of USCIS. This program allows qualified persons to seek permanent resident status based on an investment in a U.S. company. The investor must meet capital investment amount requirements, job creation requirements, and ensure that the business receiving the investment qualifies for the EB-5 program. For more details click here.