American Visas & Immigration explained
If you want to live and work, study or start a business in America the first thing you need to do is find and apply for the right visa. This is often easier said than done! We have summarised the visa process to help you with understanding which visa is most suitable for you.
The official website for America– listing all available visas types and the requirements for each – is run by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). You should visit this site once you have read the summaries below.
Working in America
Most people migrating to work in America will either be sponsored by an employer, or will apply independently for working visa.
EB- 1 Priority Worker
For foreign national of 'extraordinary ability'. Also covers multinational managers and executives who have been transferred from international companies to a US affiliate company.
For professionals with advanced degrees or persons with 'exceptional ability'
For 'skilled' or 'professional workers', defined as foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees; skilled workers with two years training and experience; and unskilled workers whose jobs are in short supply in the US. A job offer and labour certification are also required.
EB-4 Special Immigrants
For religous workers and current/former US government employees abroad.
H-1B Speciality Workers
For professions in which labour shortages are experienced in specialist industries. The applicant should have a four year degree or the equivalent practical experience (12 years) in their occupation. The employer must be be prepared to pay an applicant the prevailing wage. Fields most likely to be eligible for an H-1B visa are: IT, engineering and healthcare. There is an annual quota of these visas available, so timing and find an employer who can obtain and H-1B for you are important considerations.
Other H-Classes visas are available for nurses working in health professional shortage areas; temporary agricultural workers; temporary workers; skilled or unskilled' and trainees invited by an organisation or individual.
■ Other visas
Employees of foreign companies with parent companies, branches or subsidiaries in the United States may work in America under the L Intra-company transferee visa.
For executives or people in managerial roles; this category is also used by business owners to effectively transfer themselves to a US branch of their own company. The transferee must work at the same managerial level in America as they did in their home country.
Allow for the transfer of workers with specialised skills or knowledge from and international company to a US partner.
For the spouses and children of the receipients of a L-1A and L-1B visa (spouses are also able to seek paid employment in the US).
US citizens may sponsor relatives for permanent residency in America, but they have to be defined as 'immediate' family. Qualifying as such are spouses, parents or step children of US citizens. For more information, visit the USCIS website.
There are several visas available to anyone looking to set-up a business in America, with some rules around investment and employees. For more information, visit the USCIS site.
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