H-1B visa may not be an option for all foreign students graduating from U.S. colleges and universities. The following alternatives should be considered for F-1 students whose H-1B petitions were not selected in the lottery, who may have training options, or who may have a desire to invest in or start a business in the United States.
E-2 Treaty Investor
The E-2 visas allow the U.S. business to hire foreign nationals of a treaty country, with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation if foreign nationals are investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of such a foreign investor or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.
To be eligible for an E-2 visa, foreign entrepreneurs/investors must prove their direct investment in a bona fide U.S. enterprise and be from a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. The initial period of stay in the U.S. is up to 2 years and the visa can be extended or renewed during the period of stay in 2-year increments. Family members of the E-2 visa holders may seek E-2 nonimmigrant classification and they may apply for work authorization in order to work.
L-1A/B Intracompany Transferee
L-1 work visas are available for foreign nationals transferring from a company abroad to work in the U.S. for a related company. To be eligible, the foreign national must hold an executive or managerial position, or be a professional employee with specialized knowledge about company products or processes. The L-1B classification allows a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the U.S. It also allows a foreign company, which does not have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the U.S. to establish one.
The initial period of stay in the U.S. is up to 3 years (1 year when it is for a new office petition). The visa can be extended in up to 2-year increments. However, the maximum period of stay is 7 years for managers and executives and 5 years for specialized knowledge employees. The L-1 visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age may seek admission in the L-2 nonimmigrant classification and they may apply for work authorization in order to work.
EB-1 Extraordinary Ability
Foreign entrepreneurs or employees may be eligible for the EB-1 extraordinary ability immigrant classification if they have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (as demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and recognized achievements in the field of expertise); outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers.
For the EB-1 category, a job offer or employer-employee relationship is not required and foreign applicants may self-petition for this immigrant classification.
EB-2 Advanced Degree Professional and Exceptional Ability
Foreign nationals who hold advanced degrees or with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business may be eligible for EB-2 category,
For the EB-1 category, a job offer or employer-employee relationship is required and the employer must obtain a labor certification issued by the Department of Labor. To be exempted from the job offer and labor certification requirements, foreign entrepreneurs seeking EB-2 classification may request a National Interest Waiver (NIW)
EB-5 Immigrant investor Program
Foreign entrepreneurs may be eligible for the EB-5 immigrant investor immigrant classification if they invest $1,000,000 in a qualified U.S. business and create 10 new full-time jobs as a direct result of the investment. The minimum investment is lowered from $1 million to $500,000 if a business is located in a designated Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
If you have questions about the E-2, L-1A/B, E-1, E-2, and EB-5 Program, please contact Sujin Kim, Esq. at (251) 387-2544/(251) 379-8065 or firstname.lastname@example.org