Understanding which visas you need for international employees

On behalf of Cynthia Ceballos of Ceballos Legal Consulting LLC on Monday, May 21, 2018.

Movement toward a global economy is making even small business owners think on an international level. When your work force must flow between borders, it is critical to make sure that your paperwork and visas are handled with care. Even a minor clerical error can mean major legal issues later.

Employee immigration is complicated. Even something as simple as understanding which type of visa is required for an international worker to be granted access to the country can quickly become confusing. These are a few of the most common temporary work visas American businesses may obtain on behalf of their employees.

Temporary work visas

Being educated on immigration and visa laws that help make your business tick is important. Remember, however, that securing the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney is invaluable before you dive into the bureaucracy of visas and temporary immigration.

E-2, Treaty Investors

If you are meeting with an individual who plans to invest a considerable amount of money in your business, they will most likely be traveling with an E-2 visa. They must be from a country which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with, and be investing in a real, active and operational for-profit business to be eligible.

L-1, Employee Transfer

It may be the case that you must transfer an employee from a foreign office to The United States. If your employee has been with the company for at least one consecutive year and is moving to the U.S. to fill a managerial role or higher, they are most likely eligible for an L-1.

H-1B, Specialty Occupations

There are several requirements to obtain a visa for an employee with a specialty, but generally they must be filling a position that is exceptionally complex and that they hold specialized training for. Each situation is different, and you will want the counsel of an immigration attorney to find out if this is the right visa for them and your business.

H-2B, Non-Agricultural Temporary Workers

If you don’t have a large enough workforce to fit your needs, you have the option of seeking temporary or seasonal foreign workers. There are several facets to securing these types of temporary visas. Generally, however, you must prove that you are understaffed, that the incoming H-2B workers will not affect the wages or working conditions of your national employees and that they are only temporary workers.

O, Extraordinary Ability

Individuals with extraordinary abilities in their field, and have been formally recognized as such, may come to The United States on this type of visa. This may include internationally renowned artists, Nobel prize winning scientists or athletes on a national team.

TN, NAFTA Professionals

Canadian and Mexican citizens coming to your business to fill a professional level position will need TN visas. These types of workers may include lawyers, chemists, engineers and similar high-level professionals. Speak with your attorney regarding Canadian workers, as they do not require the visa in some situations.

We live in a global economy, and even if your business is relatively small, you may need to seek workers from outside U.S. borders. If this need should arise, make sure you are well informed and operating within the law.