Temporary Work Visa

H-1B Visa

For professionals with a specialty occupation and a sponsor company.

Qualifications Timeline

  • A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a specialty field required for the position
  • Salary at or above the fair prevailing wage (check here)
  • Must demonstrate an employer-employee relationship (startups can also do this)
  • Must be selected in the annual lottery capped annually at 85,000 petitions per year: 65,000 Regular Cap and additional 20,000 for Foreign Nationals with U.S. Master’s degrees

Average USCIS processing time (if selected in lottery): 4-6 months; 2 weeks when filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence.   (it may take 7-10 days to prepare the paperwork for filing)

H-1Bs are filed for 3 years extendable up to 6 years. (There are exceptions from 6 years limit for these in green card process).

New H-1B visa lottery in March each year. Selected H-1B cases, if petition is approved, start on October 1.

O-1 Visa

For extraordinarily talented individuals in science, the arts, business or athletics who have a job offer.

Qualifications Timeline

O-1A -Must meet at least three of the following eight criteria:

  • Must meet at least three of the following eight criteria:
  • Internationally recognized prizes or awards
  • Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievements
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications
  • Participation on a panel as the judge of the work of others in the field
  • Original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance to the field
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

O-1B – Must have a nomination for or receipt of a major award such as Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director’s Guild Award, OR at least three of the following six criteria:

  • Performance as a lead or starring participant in productions or events of distinguished reputation
  • National or international recognition for achievements evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials;
  • Performance in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations with distinguished reputation;
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes
  • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts
  • Higher salary in comparison to peers.

Average USCIS processing time: 2-4 months; 2 weeks when filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence (it may take several weeks to gather all evidence prior to filing)

O-1As are filed for 3 years extendable in 1 or 3 year-increments. No maximum time limit.

E-1 Visa

For businesses conducting trade with treaty countries and their employees.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Treaty traders and employees are those who carry on principal and substantial trade in goods.
  • Items of “trade” include goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology and its transfer, and some newsgathering activities.

Average processing time: if filed with the USCIS- approximately 4-6 months; 2 weeks if filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence; if filed with a U.S. consulate – depends on processing times at a particular consulate (it may take several weeks to prepare all the paperwork for filing).

Qualified treaty traders and employees may stay initially for two years. Two-year extensions may be granted. There is no maximum limit.

E-2 Visa

For business investors from treaty countries and their employees.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Treaty investors are those who direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested, or are investing, a substantial amount of money; or their managerial/executive or essential employees
  • Treaty investors must have at least 50 percent ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
  • The investment enterprise cannot be marginal, which means generating more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treat investor and his/her family.
  • Investment must be at risk.

Average Processing Time: if filed with the USCIS- approximately 4-6 months; 2 weeks if filed with Premium Processing and there is no Request for Evidence; if filed with a U.S. consulate – depends on processing times at a particular consulate (it may take several weeks to prepare all the paperwork for filing).

Qualified treaty investors may stay initially for two (2) years. Two-year extensions may be granted. There is no maximum limit.

L-1 Visa

For intra-company transfers of executives and managers or employees with specialized knowledge.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Must have been employed abroad for at least one year out of the prior three years by a related or an affiliated company in a capacity that is executive, managerial, or requires specialized knowledge.
  • Both the U.S. and overseas companies must continue to be actively engaged in business for the duration of the L-1 status.
  • Newly established companies in the U.S. (in business for less than one year) can obtain one year of L-1 status for the applicant initially. The L-1 extension application must show a growth in the U.S. business.
  • There are three types of employees: L-1A visas are for executives and managers, and L-1B visas are for those with specialized knowledge. “Specialized knowledge” is special or advanced knowledge of the employer’s products, research, proprietary techniques, or operational procedures/protocols.
  • Spouses may file for work authorization once in the U.S.

Average USCIS processing time: 3-6 months; 2 weeks when filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence (it may take several weeks to gather all evidence prior to filing).

L-1s are issued for 3 years initially and then extendable for up to 7 year for L-1As and 5 years for L-1Bs.

Cap-Exempt H-1B Visa

For professionals with a specialty occupation and a sponsor company that is deemed cap exempt.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Same criteria for an H-1B visa apply, See H-1B Qualifications
  • Foreign nationals must be employed by, or located at, a cap-exempt organization. There are 4 types of cap-exempt organizations: universities, non-profits affiliated with a university, non-profit research organizations, or government research organizations

Average USCIS processing time: 4-6 months, 2 weeks with premium processing if no Request for Evidence is issued (It may take 7-10 days to prepare the paperwork for filing)

  • Not subject to the annual lottery
  • Can be filed immediately, at any time of year
  • H-1Bs are filed for 3 years extendable up to 6 years.
H-1B1 Visa

For professionals from Chile and Singapore with a specialty occupation job offer.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Same criteria for an H-1B visa apply regarding the specialty occupation, See H-1B Qualifications
  • Strict nonimmigrant intent required
  • 1,400 annual cap for Chile and 5,400 annual cap for Singapore
  • Average Processing Time: if filed with the USCIS- approximately 4-6 months; 2 weeks if filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence; if filed with a U.S. consulate – depends on processing times at a particular consulate (It takes 7-10 days to prepare all the paperwork for filing).
  • 1-year admission extendable in 1-year increments. No maximum time limit
P Visa

For artists and athletes traveling to the U.S. for a competition or performance.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Foreign nationals who are coming to the United States to perform at a specific competition or event – as an individual or as part of a team.
  • The athlete or team must be internationally recognized for a high level of achievement. This is beyond skill and recognition ordinarily encountered.
  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may be admitted. They may not work in the United States
  • Average USCIS processing time: 2-3 months; 2 weeks when filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence. (it may take several weeks to prepare the paperwork for filing)
  • P-1A athletes can be admitted for up to 5 years with one extension up to 5 years.
  • P-1B performers can be admitted for the duration of event up to 1 year.
TN Visa

For professionals from Canada or Mexico with a specialty occupation.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Work in one of the NAFTA professional occupations (typically Bachelor’s degree is required but there are exceptions).
  • Strict nonimmigrant intent required
  • Average processing time: if applied for directly at the border (Canadians)- immediate, if applied at a U.S. consulate (Mexicans) – depends on visa processing time at a particular consulate, if applied with USCIS – 4-6 months; 2 weeks when filed with Premium Processing and there is no Request for Evidence. (it may a couple of days to prepare the paperwork for filing)
  • TNs can be admitted for up to 3 years extendable in 3-year increments. No maximum time limit.
H-4 Visa

For spouses and children of professionals working in a valid H-1B visa.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Marriage certificate or birth certificate used to prove relationship with H-1B holder
  • Average Processing Time: if filed with the USCIS- approximately 12 months, if filed with a U.S. consulate – depends on processing times at a particular consulate
  • H-4 admission matches the H-1B admission (max 6 years but there are exceptions if H-1B is in a green card process).
R-1 Visa

For religious workers seeking work authorization.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation at minimum 20 hours/week (average)
  • Employed in the U.S. by non-profit religious organization, religious organization that can use group tax exemption, or non-profit affiliated with a religious organization.
  • At least 2 years of membership in the religious denomination immediately prior to filing
  • Average USCIS processing time: 3-7 months; 2 weeks when filed with Premium Processing and if there is no Request for Evidence. (it may take several weeks to prepare the paperwork for filing)
  • R-1s can be admitted for up to 2.5 years extendable to maximum 5 years.
  • R-1s may use Premium Processing only if USCIS has already conducted an on-sight inspection from a prior petition.
E-3 Visa

For professionals from Australia with a specialty occupation job offer.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Same criteria for an H-1B visa apply regarding the specialty occupation, See H-1B Qualifications
  • Strict nonimmigrant intent required
  • 10,500 yearly cap
  • E-3 dependent spouses can work
  • Average processing time: if applied for directly at a U.S. consulate– depends on visa processing time at a particular consulate, if applied with USCIS – 4-6 months. NO PREMIUM PROCESSING AVAILABLE (it may take 7-10 days to prepare the paperwork for filing)
  • E-3s can be admitted for up to 2 years extendable in 2-year increments with new LCA. No maximum time limit.

Visitor Visa

B-1 Visa

Visitor visa authorizing travel to the U.S. for business purposes.

Qualifications Timeline

In order to obtain a B-1 visa, an applicant must show that:

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
  • You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
  • You have sufficient funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
  • You have a residence outside the United States that you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties that will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
  • You are otherwise admissible to the United States

Applicants may be admitted on a B-1 visa for a maximum period of 180 days and are not authorized to work except in extremely limited circumstances.

If filing abroad through the U.S. Department of State, processing times will vary depending on appointment availability at the nearest U.S. embassy.

Average processing times for an application filed inside the United States as an extension of status or change of status with USCIS is currently 8-12 months. Premium processing is not available.

B-2 Visa

Visitor visa authorizing travel to the U.S. for personal pleasure or medication treatment.

Qualifications Timeline

Applicants may be eligible for a B-2 visa if coming to the United States for:

  • Tourism
  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Applicants may be admitted on a B-2 visa for a maximum period of 180 days and are not authorized to work in the United States.

If filing abroad through the U.S. Department of State, processing times will vary depending on appointment availability at the nearest U.S. embassy.

Average processing times for an application filed inside the United States as an extension of status or change of status with USCIS is currently 8-12 months. Premium processing is not available.

Student and Training Visa

J-1 Visa

For exchange visitors who intend to participate in an approved training program.

Qualifications Timeline

For exchange visitors who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of:

  • Teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
  • The programs are designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and science.
  • Example visitors include trainees and interns.

Exchange visitor categories include:

  • Au Pairs and EduCare
  • Camp Counselors
  • Government Visitors
  • Interns
  • Visitors (Dept. of State)
  • Physicians
  • Professors and Research Scholars
  • Short-term Scholars
  • Specialists
  • Students, college/university
  • Student, secondary
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Teacher

Trainee

Processing times will vary depending on appointment availability at the nearest U.S. embassy.

F-1 Visa

For foreign nationals entering the U.S. to attend college or university.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Those in F-1 status must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • The school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
  • Students must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  • F-1 students must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire course of study.
  • Students must maintain residences abroad which they have no intention of giving up.

To obtain an F-1 visa, applicants must apply to an be accepted by an SEVP approved school.  Once accepted, students must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee and the school will issue an I-20.  Students must then fill out a DS-160 online form and schedule an interview.

Processing times will vary depending on appointment availability at the nearest U.S. embassy.

Employment – Based Green Cards

EB-1A Green Card

For individuals who have extraordinary ability. PERM is not required.

Qualifications Timeline

Must prove extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, demonstrated by sustained or international acclaim.

Must seek to continue working in the area of extraordinary ability and show that the work will substantially benefit the U.S. Can self-sponsor; employer not needed.

Must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
  • Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievements
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field
  • Published material about you in professional or major trade publications
  • Participation on a panel as the judge of the work of others in the field
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance
  • Author of scholarly articles in the field
  • Employment in a leading or critical capacity for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation
  • Commanding a high salary or other compensation compared to others in the field
  • Commercial success in the performing arts

On average this takes 4-6 weeks to put together and file with USCIS. Regular processing time is 10-15 months. Premium Processing is available which reduces processing time to 15 days.  Requests for Evidence are common.

Following the approval of the immigrant visa petition with USCIS, the processing of applicant’s and their immediate family’s individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS or immigrant visas abroad generally take several additional months.

EB-1B Green Card

For individuals who are outstanding professors and researchers. PERM is not required.

Qualifications Timeline

Must show that you are recognized internationally as outstanding in an academic area.

Must have three (3) years’ experience in either teaching or research.

Must be seeking entry for:

  • Tenure or tenure track teaching position with institution of higher education;
  • Research role at institution of higher education; or
  • Research role with private employer if it employs at least three (3) full-time researchers and the research division has achieved documented accomplishments in the field.

Must include proof of at least two (2) of the following:

  • Major prize or award for outstanding achievement
  • Membership in association requiring outstanding achievement
  • Published material about your work
  • Participation as a judge of others’ work
  • Original scientific research
  • Author of scholarly articles or books
  • Any other comparable evidence.

On average this takes 4-6 weeks to put together and file with USCIS. Regular processing time is 10-15 months. Premium Processing is available which reduces processing time to 15 days.  Requests for Evidence are common.

Following the approval of the immigrant visa petition with USCIS, the processing of applicant’s and their immediate family’s individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS or immigrant visas abroad generally take several additional months.

EB-1C Green Card

For Multinational Executives or Managers

Qualifications Timeline

  • Must have been employed abroad as an executive or manager for at least one year out of the prior three years by a related or an affiliated company.
  • Only for executives and managers, not available for L-1B specialized knowledge nonimmigrants.
  • U.S. entity must have been doing commercial business for at least one year in order to apply.

On average this takes 4-6 weeks to put together and file with USCIS. Regular processing with USCIS takes 10-15 months. Currently no Premium Processing is available. Requests for Evidence are common.

Following the approval of the immigrant visa petition with USCIS, the processing of applicant’s and their immediate family’s individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS or immigrant visas abroad generally take several additional months.

EB- 2 National Interest Waiver

For professional holding advanced degrees or foreign nationals of exceptional ability. PERM labor certification waived due to your proved contributions to the United States.

Qualifications Timeline

Must have:

  • Advanced degree, or
  • Prove exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability requires any three (3) of:
    • Degree relating to area of exceptional ability
    • Employment letter(s) showing 10 years of experience
    • License to practice in your profession
    • Salary commensurate with extraordinary ability
    • Membership in a professional association
    • Recognition for significant contributions to or achievements in the field
  • The requirement for labor certification is waived if you can show that you have substantially benefited or will substantially benefit prospectively the U.S. national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the U.S. These criteria must all be met:
    • The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
    • The applicant is well positioned to advance the endeavor; and
    • It would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the normal requirement of a job offer and labor certification.

Must intend to work in the area of expertise in the U.S., but an offer of employment or employer sponsorship is not required.

On average this takes 4-6 weeks to put together and file with USCIS As of January 2021, USCIS is taking 8-17 months to adjudicate; currently there is no Premium Processing. Requests for Evidence are common.

EB-2 Green Card

For professionals holding advanced degrees or foreign nationals of exceptional ability. PERM is required.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Must have an advanced degree, or a Bachelor’s degree plus five (5) years of post-Bachelor’s, progressive experience. The job being offered must require either of the same.
  • S. employer must prove to Department of Labor that it followed recruitment protocols and did not find a U.S. worker with the bare minimum qualifications to do the job offered (PERM application).
  • Once DOL certifies PERM application, employer must file Immigrant Petition with USCIS, proving that it can pay the fair wage and that foreign national qualifies for the job offered.
  • Applicants and their immediate family members (spouse and any children under 21) must then file individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS if they already in the U.S. in valid nonimmigrant status. They can also opt to apply for immigrant visas abroad at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

On average, four months to get a prevailing wage from DOL; two to three months to conduct recruitment; 3-6 months for DOL to certify PERM.

The I-140 immigrant visa petition with USCIS follows the DOL approval of the PERM. USCIS regular processing takes 7-10 months. Premium Processing is available which reduces processing time to 15 days.

The processing of individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS or immigrant visas abroad generally take several additional months following the approval of the I-140 immigrant visa petition.

EB-3 Green Card
  • S. employer must prove to Department of Labor that it followed recruitment protocols and did not find a U.S. worker with the bare minimal qualifications to do the job offered (PERM application).
  • Once DOL certifies PERM application, employer must file Immigrant Petition with USCIS, proving that it can pay the fair wage and that foreign national qualifies for the job offered.
  • Applicants and their immediate family members (spouse and any children under 21) must then file individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS if they already in the U.S. in valid nonimmigrant status. They can also opt to apply for immigrant visas abroad at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

On average, four months to get a prevailing wage from DOL; two to three months to conduct recruitment; 3-6 months for DOL to certify PERM.

The I-140 immigrant visa petition with USCIS follows the DOL approval of the PERM. USCIS regular processing takes 7-10 months. Premium Processing is available which reduces processing time to 15 days.

The processing of individual applications for permanent residence with USCIS or immigrant visas abroad generally take several additional months following the approval of the I-140 immigrant visa petition.

EB-5 Green Card

For applicants, spouses, and their unmarried children who invest large amounts of money into a U.S. business.

Qualifications Timeline

  • Investment must be $1.8 million and must create at least ten jobs; investment is reduced to $900,000 if the ten jobs are created in a rural area or in an area of high unemployment

On average, it can take several months to gather strong evidence that the source of the investment money is clean; that the path of the investment money into the United States and into the investment is clear; and that the business plan clearly shows how ten jobs will be created.

It is curently taking over three years for USCIS to process the very first step in the EB-5 process, and another year for a Conditional Green Card to issue.  Foreign national gets no benefit solely from filing a petition.

Diversity Green Card

Green cards for citizens of countries with low U.S. immigration rates.

Qualifications Timeline

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  The lottery is announced each year by the U.S. State Department, most often in October and November.

We do not process DV Lottery entries.  Instructions and information is available at https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-eligibility/green-card-through-the-diversity-immigrant-visa-program

If an applicant is chosen in the DV Lottery, our office can assist with either the immigrant visa petition or the individual permanent residence application in the U.S. if the applicant is already here in valid nonimmigrant status.