USA

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to study. Before applying for a visa, all student visa applicants are required to be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a student visa. Students can apply within 120 days from the start date of I-20 and can travel within 30 days from the start date of I-20.

Visa types

F-1 Visa
This is the most common type of student visa. If you wish to engage in academic studies in the United States at an approved school, such as an accredited U.S. college or university, private secondary school, or approved English language program then you need an F-1 visa. You will also need an F-1 visa if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week.

M-1 Visa
If you plan engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at a U.S. institution then you need an M-1 visa.

U.S. Public School
U.S. law does not permit foreign students to attend public elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade) or a publicly funded adult education program. Hence, F-1 visas cannot be issued for study at such schools.

An F-1 visa can be issued for attendance at a public secondary school (grades 9 to 12), but the student is limited to a maximum of 12 months at the school. The school must also indicate on the Form I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and the amount submitted by the student for that purpose.

Note: Holders of A, E, F-2, G, H-4, J-2, L-2, M-2 or other derivative nonimmigrant visas may enroll in public elementary and secondary schools.

Application

To apply for an F or M visa, you must pay your $160 application fee and submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreementsprovide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) photograph taken within the last six months. 
  • If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality.
  • An approved original signed Form I-20 from your U.S. school or program.

Supporting documents

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Documents demonstrating strong financial, social, and family ties to your home country that will compel you to return to your country after your program of study in the United States ends.
  • Financial and any other documents you believe will support your application and which give credible evidence that you have enough readily-available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study and that you have access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while you remain in the United States. M-1 applicants must demonstrate the ability to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of their intended stay.
  • Photocopies of bank statements will not be accepted unless you can also show original copies of bank statements or original bank books.
  • If you are financially sponsored by another person, bring proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor’s most recent original tax forms and the sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates.
  • Academic documents that show scholastic preparation. Useful documents include school transcripts (original copies are preferred) with grades, public examination certificates (A-levels, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

Dependants

Spouses, including same-sex spouses, and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his or her stay require derivative F or M visas. There is no derivative visa for the parents of F or M holders.

Family members who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but wish to visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

Spouses and dependents may not work in the United States on a derivative F or M visa. If your spouse/child seeks employment, the spouse must obtain the appropriate work visa.

Supporting documents for dependants

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • Proof of the student’s relationship to his or her spouse and/or child (e.g., marriage and birth certificates)
  • It is preferred that families apply for their visas at the same time, but if the spouse and/or child must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 visa holders may be eligible for up to 12 months of optional practical training following completion of all course requirements for graduation (not including thesis or equivalent), or after completion of all requirements. OPT is separate from a student’s academic work, and time for OPT will not normally be reflected during the student’s academic program or in the completed study date. Students applying for an F visa to do OPT may present an I-20 with an original end of study date that may have passed. However, these I-20s must be annotated by the designated school official to reflect approval of an OPT program that extends beyond the end of the regular period of study. In addition, the student must have proof that USCIS has approved their practical training program or that an application is pending, either in the form of an approved Employment Authorization Card or a Form I-797 indicating that s/he has a pending application for an OPT program.

Validity of Student Visas After a Break in Studies

Students who are away from classes for more than five months can expect to apply for and receive a new F-1 or M-1 student visa to return to school following travel abroad, as explained below.

Students within the U.S.

A student (F-1 or M-1) may lose that status if they do not resume studies within five months of the date of transferring schools or programs, under immigration law. If a student loses status, unless USCIS reinstates the student’s status, the student’s F or M visa would also be invalid for future travel returning to the U.S. For more information see the USCIS website, and instructions for Application for Extend/Change of Nonimmigrant Status Form I-539 to request reinstatement of status.

Students – Returning to the U.S. from Travel Abroad
Students who leave the U.S. for a break in studies of five months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 status unless their activities overseas are related to their course of study. In advance of travel, students may want to check with their designated school official, if there is a question about whether their activity is related to their course of study.

When the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector at port of entry is presented a previously used, unexpired F-1 or M-1 visa by a returning student who has been outside the U.S. and out of student status for more than five months, a CBP immigration inspector may find the student inadmissible for not possessing a valid nonimmigrant visa. CBP may also cancel the visa after granting the student permission to withdraw the application for admission. Therefore, it is prudent for students to apply for new visas at an Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to traveling to the U.S. to return to their studies, after an absence of more than five months that is not related to their course of study.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

U.S. Immigration has two main categories: permanent residence visas (also called “immigrant visas” or “green cards”) and temporary residence visas (also called “non-immigrant visas”).

Permanent Resident Visas (Green Cards)

A permanent resident visa, or green card, is normally what people want, because it permits PERMANENT residence in the U.S. A person with a green card can generally live anywhere in the U.S. and can work for anyone without restriction. But, a green card is difficult to get.

There are four main ways to get a green card:

  • Family sponsored green cards
  • Employment based green cards
  • Green card lottery (diversity green card),
  • Political Asylum.

How to qualify for a permanent resident visa in the USA

 To qualify for a family sponsored green card, you must have a very close relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder). Husbands and wives of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens, and children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens (including step children) have top priority and can qualify for a green card relatively quickly.

Other family members, such as husbands and wives of permanent residents, children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens can also qualify for family sponsored green cards. But, these family members must wait for a green card to be available (there are waiting lists), which can take anywhere from five to 15 years!

Employment based green cards are often the best possibility for our clients. There are five types:

  • EB-1: for aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers multinational business managers and executives.
  • EB-2: for aliens with exceptional ability or aliens with advanced degrees (employer/sponsor required)
  • EB-3: for professional workers (with university degree), skilled workers and unskilled workers (employer/sponsor required)
  • EB-4: for religious workers
  • EB-5: for aliens who invest $1 million and create 10 new full time jobs (in limited situations, an investment of $500,000 is acceptable).

Processing times for employment based green card vary widely. An EB-1 or EB-5 application can be approved in less than 1 year. E2 visa processing times vary by country. The U.S. consulates generally review E-2 applications in ess than a month. The U.S. consulate in Germany reviews them in as fast as two weeks. The U.K, and Norway, from my experience, tend to be slower than consulates in other countries(such as France, Italy, Belgium Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, etc.). On average, processing time is about 5 weeks. However, an EB-3 application could take more than 5 years.

The green card lottery (diversity green card) is government program designed to increase immigration from countries that do not produce a large number of immigrants to the U.S. Only people born in certain countries can qualify (for example, people born in Canada, Mexico, England, India, China, and the Philippines cannot participate).

Each year the government selects 100,000 winners for 50,000-55,000 green cards. The government assumes that some winners will not qualify. The time to enter the green card lottery changes every year, but it is usually between October and December.

Our firm does not handle applications for political asylum or refugee status. However, this is one way to qualify for a green card. To qualify, an applicant must prove he or she has been persecuted in the past or has a well founded fear of persecution in his or her home country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Asylum applicants may apply for asylum even if he or she entered the U.S. illegally or if he or she is in the U.S. on an expired visa/I-94. Generally, asylum applicants must apply for asylum within one year of their arrival in the U.S. but there are several exceptions which will allow the filing of an asylum application after one year.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

Temporary Visas

Many clients prefer to be in the U.S. before or during a green card application. Therefore, they first come to the U.S. on a temporary visa. There are about 30 different kinds of temporary visas. The most common temporary visas for our law firm are as follows:

  • B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas, which permit a visitor to remain in the U.S. for up to six month (employment is not permitted).
  • E-2 Treaty Investor Visas, which permit investors from certain countries to invest a substantial amount of money and acquire a controlling interest in an active U.S. business. The visa is issued for up to five years and is renewable. The investor can work in his or her own business. The spouse can qualify for an unrestricted temporary work card. Children up to the age of 21 can accompany the parents and attend school, but cannot work.
  • F-1 Student Visas, which permit foreign students to attend U.S. educational institutions. Limited employment is permitted in some cases.
  • H-1B Visas for Workers in Specialty Occupations, which permit employment of professional level workers by a sponsoring employer. The visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed another three years (additional renewals are possible in some cases).
  • J-1 Visas for Participants in Exchange Programs, which permit business trainees to come to the U.S. to learn about an occupation or profession for up to 18 months.
  • K-1 Visas for a Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen.
  • K-3 Visas for a Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • L-1 Visas for Multinational Managers, Executives and Specialized Knowledge employees who are being transferred to the U.S. by a related international company.
  • O-1 Visas for Aliens with Extraordinary Ability who are seeking temporary employment. This visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed in one year increments.
  • P-1 Visas for Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups and Athletes.
  • R-1 Visas for Religious Workers who are being transferred to the U.S. by a related international church.
  • TN Visas for certain professional workers from Mexico and Canada. This visa is issued for three years and can be renewed in three year increments.

Highlights of the E2 Non-Immigrant Investor Visa

Visitors to the United States have numerous options to legally enter the US for a short-term stay. If qualified, they can enter on an ESTA program with a clear and fixed business itinerary but not for work. They can also make an application for a B1/B2 non-immigrant visa to visit the US for short term business purpose or holiday.

That said, the E2 Visa as sanctioned by the Department of State and the American legislature is perhaps one of the most powerful non-immigrant visas to the United States. It allows a foreign investor an opportunity to be able to make a commercial investment in the United States, manage and operate the enterprise.

The base application which includes family members and minor children, requires a substantial investment in a commercial enterprise whether new or existing. Normally the value of the enterprise should exceed $100,000. The application is made at the US consulate or embassy closest to the primary residence of the applicant.

The applicant will initially come to the United States as a prospective investor to survey the opportunities prior to making the actual investment. Then, he or she can enter into a conditional or binding agreement for the purchase or creation of the enterprise. There is no restriction as to the type of enterprise so long as it is for profit. Normally the process takes six months from start to finish.

The key benefits to this visa are that it allows the individual hands-on management of the enterprise as well as any employees. Specialized employees from source country can also be added to the application as needed. It allows the holder to be able to enter or leave the United States at will for a five-year duration. Maximum durations per visit however while in the United States are for two years at a time. There is a re-validation process as needed at the end of the five-year term while most individuals either acquire another enterprise or sell it.

The enterprise may be a freestanding operation or a franchise. Franchises are looked upon more favorably by United States consuls as they are “businesses in a box“ and therefore have a higher degree of success probability. It is recommended that applicants or investors acquire an enterprise with which they already have a familiarity.

Once the investor has identified and studied the business, he will normally retain legal counsel to ensure that a proper business plan is being made as well as engage with the formalities of consular processing. The length of time for this will depend on the location of the embassy. Some consulates will take some time to review the case others will make an expeditious decision.

To qualify as an investor, the consul will want to ensure that the individual has no criminal record, has no intent to immigrate to the United States on a permanent basis, has enough business acumen to be able to make a success of the business, and that the business has sufficient cash flow to be able to earn more than just a living, i.e. the enterprise cannot be marginal. 

The costs involved in setting up the enterprise, consular processing, business plans and other collateral legal requirements are dependent on the type and scope of the business as well as the number of family members and/or employees who are involved in the overall application. It is recommended that these issues be clarified with counsel before commencing on any legal or financial commitment.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

The B-1/B-2 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Generally, the B-1 visa is for travelers consulting with business associates, attending scientific, educational, professional or business conventions/conferences, settling an estate or negotiating contracts. The B-2 visa is for travel that is recreational in nature, including tourism, visits with friends or relatives, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or service nature. Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2.

Qualifications

If you apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) of the INA presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant. You must overcome this legal presumption by showing:

That the purpose of your trip to the United States is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment

  • That you plan to remain in the United States for a specific, limited period of time
  • Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States
  • That you have a residence outside the United States, as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit
  • Personal or domestic employeesand crew members working aboard vessels within the Outer Continental Shelf may qualify for B-1 visas under certain circumstances.
  • Some foreign nationals may be ineligible for visas according to The Immigration and Nationality Act. You can read more about The Immigration and Nationality Act and visa ineligibility

 If you apply for a business/tourist visa, you must pay your $160 application fee and submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreementsprovide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) photograph taken within the last six months. 
  • If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

Supporting documents

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.

Additionally, based on your purpose of travel, you should consider bringing the following:

  • Students
    Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.
  • Working adults
    Bring an employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.
  • Business visitors and company directors
    Bring evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.
  • Visiting a relative
    Bring photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).
  • Previous visitors to the United States
    If you were previously in the United States, any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status.

Supporting documents for applicants seeking medical care

If you wish to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, then you should be prepared to present the following documentation in addition to the documents listed above and those the consular officer may require:

  • A medical diagnosis from a local physician explaining the nature of your ailment and the reason you require treatment in the United States.
  • A letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat this specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • A statement of financial responsibility from the individuals or organization paying for your transportation, medical and living expenses. The individuals guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of their ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc. Any professional level job that usually requires you to have a bachelors degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. If you do not have a bachelors degree or higher you may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.  

However, because of the visa cap it is unlikely that an H-1B visa petition will be successful. The US employer petitions for the H-1B Visa in the US which has duration of up to 6 years.

Applying for a non-immigrant visa is generally quicker than applying for a US Green Card, therefore the H-1B visa is popular for companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignment in the US.  However, because of the lack of available visas employers frequently have to look at applying for other visa categories such as the L-1B for specialized workers, L-1A for managers and executives, E-2 Treaty Investor visaE-1 Treaty Trader visaE-3 for Australians etc.

Please note that individuals cannot apply directly for an H-1B visa. Instead the employer must petition for entry of the employee.

H-1B Visa cap

H-1B visas are subject to an annual visa cap each financial year. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa. Employers can apply as soon as April 2, 2017 for the 2018 cap, but the beneficiary cannot start work until October 1, 2017.

Current immigration law allows for a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas to be made available each government fiscal year. This number includes 65,000 new H-1B visas available for overseas workers in specialty (professional) level occupations with at least a bachelor’s degree, with an additional 20,000 visas available for those specialty workers with an advanced degree from a US academic institution. In recent years the H-1B visa cap has been heavily oversubscribed near the beginning of April each year.  USCIS then holds a lottery for the available H-1B visas available.

Eligibility: specialty occupation

The US H1-B visa is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations. The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent. 
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree. 
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position. 
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Eligibility: employee qualifications

For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have completed a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university. 
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation. 
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment. 
  • Have education, training, or experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

Positions that are not specialty occupations, or for which the candidate lacks the qualifications/experience for an H1B visa, may be filled using an H-2B visa. The L-1B visa a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to their US operations for up to five years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US Company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.

Length of stay

The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may then be extended to a maximum of six years.

Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few US visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning the H-1B visa holder can apply for and obtain a US Green Card while in the US on an H-1B visa. If you are still in the US on an H-1B visa and wish to remain in the US for more than six years, you can apply for permanent residency in the US to receive a Green Card. If you do not gain permanent residency prior to the expiration of your H-1B visa, then you must live outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H or L visa.

Family & Dependants

H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H-4 Visa category as dependents. An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status. While, an H-4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US unless able to come under a non, they may attend school, obtain a driver’s license and open a bank account while in the US.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

US EB5 Immigrant Investor Program

This category allows international investors who invest a minimum of either $900,000 or $1,800,000 in a profit making US company to gain lawful permanent residence popularly known as a Green Card in the US. The amount of investment required depends on where the money will be invested. The vast majority of applications are made via the EB5 Immigration Investor Regional Center Program.  They charge high fees.  However, is more convenient for many investors.

EB5 Conditional permanent residence

In order to gain legal permanent residence in the US EB-5 applicants must first apply for conditional permanent residence, which lasts for 2 years. During this time the investor must meet the conditions outlined below in order to be granted full legal permanent residence.

New commercial enterprise

EB5 applicants’ investment must be directed towards ‘new commercial enterprises’, as defined by USCIS. This does not mean investors must set up a business from scratch, but the business receiving investment must meet certain conditions. These are:

  • Having begun trading either on or after November 29th1990, OR 
  • Having been taken over and undergone extensive restructuring, OR 
  • Having gained either 40% net worth, or 40% more employees as a result of the EB-5 investment

Job creation

In order to gain lawful permanent residence through the EB5 visa category investors must have created a minimum of 10 full-time US jobs within two years of entering the US.

Minimum investment: Targeted Employment Areas

EB-5 investors need to invest a minimum of $1,800,000 of investment outside of a Targeted Employment Area. However, If the location of the investment is deemed to be a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) that amount drops to $800,000. Targeted Employment Areas fall into 2 categories:

  • Rural TEAs To be designated a rural TEA an area must be outside of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s designated metropolitan statistical areas (MSA). The exact definition of such areas is often unclear, but essentially the TEA they must not be near towns or cities with more than 50,000 residents. The second condition of an area being designated a rural TEA is that it must not be within the boundaries of any town with 20,000 residents or more. 
  • High unemployment TEAs High unemployment TEAs are areas with 20,000 or more residents with an unemployment rate of at least 1.5 times the US average.

L1 Visa

The United States L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows overseas companies to transfer employees under two types of L1 visa schemes. For L1 visa transfers of executives and managers including business owners for up to seven years there is the L1A visa, and for specialized knowledge employees the L1B visa allows entry for up to five years to a new or existing US office. To qualify for an L1 visa the employee, which can include business owners, must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.

One of the benefits of the L1 visa is that there is no quota. Unlike in the case of the H1B visa category, an unlimited number of visas can be issued.  However, unless the company is a very large company with blanket filing a considerable amount of documentation needs to be submitted for each L1 visa petition to the USCIS in duplicate. Indians and Chinese nationals are able to come under the L1 visa category.  They are unable to come under the E2 visa and E1 visa which is limited only to certain nationalities.

Business owners can also apply for L1 Visa

This can be an excellent way for businesses including small businesses to expand into the US with a minimal investment.  However, the business outside the US should continue trading even after the L1 visa holder has entered the US.  Business owners who have worked for the business outside the US for one year in the last three years, wishing to set up a business in the US can apply without having to make a large investment of at least half a million dollars as required under the EB5 immigrant investor scheme.

L1 Visa and Employment Based EB1C Green Card

The requirements for employment based immigration (permanent residence) under the EB1C immigrant scheme are similar to the requirements for the L1A Executive and Manager visa category.  Many overseas executives and managers including business owners come under the L1A visa scheme first and then apply at a later date for EB1C as an international manager or executive which is one of the best ways of gaining an employment based immigrant visa (green card). 

As you need to show that you have worked for the business outside the US for at least one year in the last three years, you need to apply for the EB1C immigrant visa within two years of entry to the US on an L1 visa. The business needs to have been established in the US for at least one year before you can apply under this green card scheme.  

Companies operating in the US can apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L1 intracompany transfer visa to transfer someone to the US from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L1 visa for up to three years.  For a new office (that has been in operation for less than a year) the L1 visa is granted for one year.

There are two types of employee who may be sponsored for USA L1 visa:

L1A Executives and Managers

L1 Visa requirements for management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function of the department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years.  For a new US office entry for an L1 visa is granted for one year.

  • L1B Specialized Knowledge Staff

This category covers those with knowledge of the company’s products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. This should be explained in some detail when applying for the L1 visa.  Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendable to a maximum of five years.

On completing the maximum allowable period in L1 visa status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.

However, because of the visa cap it is unlikely that an H-1B visa petition will be successful. The US employer petitions for the H-1B Visa in the US which has duration of up to 6 years.

Applying for a non-immigrant visa is generally quicker than applying for a US Green Card, therefore the H-1B visa is popular for companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignment in the US.  However, because of the lack of available visas employers frequently have to look at applying for other visa categories such as the L-1B for specialized workers, L-1A for managers and executives, E-2 Treaty Investor visaE-1 Treaty Trader visaE-3 for Australians etc.

Please note that individuals cannot apply directly for an H-1B visa. Instead the employer must petition for entry of the employee.

H-1B Visa cap

H-1B visas are subject to an annual visa cap each financial year. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa. Employers can apply as soon as April 2, 2017 for the 2018 cap, but the beneficiary cannot start work until October 1, 2017.

Current immigration law allows for a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas to be made available each government fiscal year. This number includes 65,000 new H-1B visas available for overseas workers in specialty (professional) level occupations with at least a bachelor’s degree, with an additional 20,000 visas available for those specialty workers with an advanced degree from a US academic institution. In recent years the H-1B visa cap has been heavily oversubscribed near the beginning of April each year.  USCIS then holds a lottery for the available H-1B visas available.

Eligibility: specialty occupation

The US H1-B visa is designed to be used for staff in specialty occupations. The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent. 
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree. 
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position. 
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Eligibility: employee qualifications

For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have completed a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university. 
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation. 
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment. 
  • Have education, training, or experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

Positions that are not specialty occupations, or for which the candidate lacks the qualifications/experience for an H1B visa, may be filled using an H-2B visa. The L-1B visa a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to their US operations for up to five years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US Company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.

Length of stay

The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may then be extended to a maximum of six years.

Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few US visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning the H-1B visa holder can apply for and obtain a US Green Card while in the US on an H-1B visa. If you are still in the US on an H-1B visa and wish to remain in the US for more than six years, you can apply for permanent residency in the US to receive a Green Card. If you do not gain permanent residency prior to the expiration of your H-1B visa, then you must live outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H or L visa.

Family & Dependants

H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H-4 Visa category as dependents. An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status. While, an H-4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US unless able to come under a non, they may attend school, obtain a driver’s license and open a bank account while in the US.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.

Each year, 50,000 United States permanent resident visas are given away to citizens of countries with low immigration rates into the U.S. through a lottery process. If, after a random selection process, you receive a permanent resident visa through the DV-2014 (Green Card) Lottery, you can live and work permanently in the United States. You can also bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21.

The United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery is held annually. Applications are usually accepted during October. Applications should be made online.

Ineligible Countries

Each year, citizens of nations with large numbers of citizens immigrating to the United States are not eligible for the Green Card Lottery. The list may change slightly each year but, for guidance, applications for the DV-2014 lottery were accepted in October 2012. Citizens of the following countries were not eligible to enter:

  • BANGLADESH 
  • BRAZIL 
  • CANADA 
  • CHINA (mainland-born) 
  • COLOMBIA 
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 
  • ECUADOR 
  • EL SALVADOR 
  • HAITI 
  • INDIA 
  • JAMAICA 
  • MEXICO 
  • PAKISTAN 
  • PERU 
  • PHILIPPINES 
  • POLAND 
  • SOUTH KOREA 
  • UNITED KINGDOM and dependent territories (except Northern Ireland) 
  • VIETNAM
  • Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

If you would like to ascertain your eligibility for USA student visa, you can book an appointment for initial consultation with our USA Immigration experts. Call us on +91 9633 746454 or email us at info@irishexpert.com.