Many non-U.S. businesses wish to establish and service a customer base in the United States. U.S. immigration laws generally do not permit the business’ non-U.S. management to work in the U.S. without authorization and it is difficult to find and train U.S. personnel to represent or manage a new branch. The selected nonimmigrant options, set out below, all offer non-U.S. businesspersons the facility to market and sell their goods or services in the U.S. Each visa classification offers temporary work authorization within the U.S. and will not, per se, convert to permanent resident (“Green Card”) status.
|Visa Classification||General Description|
|B-1||Visitor for Business: Non U.S. citizens engaged in business may enter the U.S. to buy goods, take orders for non-U.S. goods to be shipped from points outside the U.S., attend meetings or trade shows, or negotiate contracts. In certain limited circumstances professionals employed outside of the U.S. and paid by a non-U.S. source may work in the U.S. on a B-1 visa.|
|E-1||Treaty Trader: Citizens of certain nations may manage a U.S. business they or a fellow countryman own, that is carrying on substantial trade in the U.S. Over 50% of the U.S. branch’s business must be between the U.S. and the home country.|
|E-2||Treaty Investor: Citizens of certain nations may direct and develop a U.S. business in which they have made a substantial investment. Executive, managerial and essential employees who are citizens of the same nation may be eligible for employment within the business.|
|H-1B||Specialty Occupation: A U.S. employer can obtain temporary authorization for a qualified non-U.S. person to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge. This generally includes positions that are commonly filled by persons holding a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification.|
|L-1||Intra-company transferee: An executive, manager, or person with specialized knowledge who has been employed by a non U.S. business for the required period of time may be transferred to a U.S. branch, affiliate or subsidiary.|
|TN||A Canadian citizen who is a member of a listed profession may be employed in the U.S. to work in that profession. At present over 60 professions have been designated as qualifying for TN visas.|
Specific requirements apply for each of the above visa classifications and the visas vary according to the scope of work that may be performed, the period of validity, the nature of U.S. entity needed, and how quickly the visas can be obtained. Each visa has its merits and limitations and the best option may be determined in the light of the business’ needs.