What Businesses Need to Know About Business Immigrant Visas

Hiring foreign workers as a United States business is not easy or cheap. Small and large business entities are looking at-home and abroad to hire the talent that they need to fill their ranks. Immigrant visas exist that businesses can apply for to make the process easier.

But there are some things that businesses need to know about visas.

H-1B Visas Aren’t the Only Visas for Business

H-1B is the most common type of visas for workers, and it’s these visas that allow companies to temporarily employee foreign workers. This particular visa is meant for special-skilled workers, and this may include:

  • Engineers
  • Scientists
  • Researchers
  • Information technology

Applicants will have a bachelor’s degree or higher, or they must have a skill set that is highly specialized.

But when an H-1B visa isn’t an option, there are other alternatives available. The alternative options that are available to you, including:

  • L-1 Visa. An L-1 visa is a visa that is offered to employees that are employed with a company that has a branch in the United States. These visas come in two main forms:
    • L-1A: Designed for executives of a company or managers
    • L-1B: Designed for workers that have specialized knowledge in a field

What’s nice about the L-1 Visa is that it does not have a cap, unlike the H-1B visa program which has a cap of 65,000 visas annually.

Green cards are an option for certain workers, and this allows the worker to bypass the entirety of the H-1B visa process. Why? Green cards are not limited to an employer or sponsorship, and it may be the best option for the employer.

A lawful citizen or permanent resident may sponsor the individual. Investment-based and asylum-based opportunities do exist with a green card.

Businesses will also have the option to apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa, or a visa that allows for a company to hire:

  • Foreign managers
  • Foreign executives
  • Essential employees

What’s interesting about the E-1 and E-2 visas is that they are dependent on the agreements between the United States and a respective country. Nationals of such countries may be able to secure an “E” visa, and this will depend on if the national:

  • Engages in significant trade with the United States
  • Invests significantly in the United States

A lot of companies will still try to secure an H-1B visa because it is the most common option for a visa. The requirements for this type of visa are very strict, and it’s a visa that is available to businesses of all sizes.

Large companies will secure 30% or more of the available H-1B visas primarily due to the immense amount of resources that they have.

But keep in mind, there is a cap on the number of visas available, and this cap was met in a single day in 2013. The application, fee and interview process for this visa type can take 2 – 6 months, and legal fees are often $3,000 – $6,000 alone. Government fees will cost an additional $3,000 of so, making the H-1B a costly process for small businesses.