The Basics of Business Immigration, Part One

“How can I help an employee within my organization live and work in the United States?”

In today’s interconnected world, collaboration across borders is more important than ever. Yet, immigration law can feel like a maze of puzzles when trying to move employees around the globe. Working to help employees relocateinto the country without violating immigration law is a challenge – and it’s important that you speak to an experienced business immigration attorney early in the process.

While not providing specific legal advice, in this blog series I will seek to de-mystify the process of immigrating to the US for business purposes. Today, I will focus on three of the most common pathways by which an employee can immigrate to the United States, with more to come in future installments.

H-1B – Specialty Occupations

If you are bringing in a skilled and educated employee to work for you in America, there is a good chance they will qualify under the H-1B category for specialty occupations. Requirements include that the employee possess at least a Bachelor Degree in a specific field (or its equivalent) and the position within your company must require, as a minimum for entry into that position, a Bachelor Degree in a specific field (or its equivalent). A foreign employee in H-1B status is generally limited to a six-year stay in the United States though some exceptions allow for the individual to remain beyond six-year period. Common examples of H-1B occupations include architects, software engineers, economists, and professors.

TN – NAFTA Professionals

The TN category for nonimmigrant workers coming into the United States is limited to citizens of Canada and Mexico. There are a wide range of professionals, i.e., generally require a Bachelor Degree (or its equivalent)  in a related field for entry into that position, who could qualify for this category, including accountants and computer systems analysts, among others. If you are bringing an employee in from Canada to work for you, they may not need a nonimmigrant work visa. However, documentation will still be required at the border or at a pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. Those coming from Mexico will need a nonimmigrant work visa in advance of trying to gain entry into the U.S. There is a three-year initial admission for NAFTA Professionals, and additional three-year extensions can be granted.

L-1A – Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

When the time comes to transfer in an employee from a foreign office to one of your offices within the United States, the L-1A category is often the proper choice. This category applies when your company is going to bring a non-U.S. citizen who is employed by an affiliated entity to the United States for business purposes. However, in order to qualify under this category, the employee must be classified as an executive or manager within the organization. There is a seven-year maximum stay for employees under this classification, with a three-year initial admission and additional two-year extensions possible.

We can help you make sense of these details! To learn more about this subject, and for help creating employment policies and procedures which will keep you out of trouble, please get in touch with me today!