Employment

We advise employees, employers, and the self-employed on strategies for obtaining temporary visas and green cards.

Employers and Employees

If you are an employer, we will help to determine whether your employees are eligible for visas, and which strategies best fit your needs and provide the best chance of success. If you are an employee or are sponsoring yourself, we will walk through all the potential options that might apply now or in the future, and discuss issues related to compliance and maintenance of status, whether to process your case abroad or within the U.S., and various other factors that could affect your eligibility for different benefits later on.

The H-1B visa allows for “dual intent,” meaning that you can simultaneously pursue an immigrant visa (green card). Further, it allows you great flexibility in terms of changing or working for multiple employers, as well as in having the option for the position to be either part-time or full-time.  To qualify, you must possess a bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent) and be seeking to perform in a specialty occupation requiring that degree. A great deal can be written explaining each of those terms, particularly in light of constantly evolving government policies––which is what we will do in evaluating the appropriateness of this option.

The L-1 visa allows for your transfer from a foreign entity to a U.S. a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary to contribute executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge skills that you obtained abroad. Managerial or executive assignments may be granted for an initial petition of three years, with two extensions of two years each. Specialized knowledge assignments may be granted for an initial petition of three years, with one extension permitted of two years. Your spouse and children may be issued L-2 visas, permitting your spouse to work. Similar to the H-1B, the L-1 is a dual intent visa, permitting you to pursue both temporary and permanent visas.

The O-1 visa is available if you may demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, indicating that you are one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of your field. The visa is valid for an initial period of up to three years, with unlimited extensions. Your spouse and children may enter, though not work.

Permanent visas require a two-step process in which the sponsor files a petition, the approval of which will form the basis of eligibility for an immigrant visa (green card). The visa may be obtained either at the U.S. consulate/embassy abroad or with the relevant USCIS field office in the United States, depending on the relevant circumstances.

The petition must identify one of five particular “preference categories,” most of which require certification by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that there will be no adverse impact on the U.S. labor market before proceeding with the petition before USCIS. Timeframes can vary based on many factors, including the possibility of an audit from the DOL. While this can be a lengthy and painstaking process, the assistance of counsel can alleviate the employer of many of these burdens. We can develop a strategy that maximizes your chances of success, while eliminating as many of your burdens as we are able to.

There are additional employment-based visas exclusive to citizens/nationals of Chile, Singapore, Australia, Canada, and Mexico, which are subject to their own requirements and limitations. There are also visas for members of specific professions that are very limited in scope, but which do operate as effective means to live and work in the United States on a temporary basis. When you engage with us in the consulting process, we will carefully assess your former and potential employment in developing a strategy for helping you to achieve your objectives.

Artists and Performers

The O-1 visa is available if you may demonstrate (by sustained national or international acclaim) extraordinary ability in the arts or motion picture/television industries. You must show “a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement” indicating that you are one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of your field. This visa is valid for up to three years, with no limit on the number of extensions. Your spouse and children may enter, though not work, while support staff may accompany you to assist in events and performances.

Immigrant visas (green cards) are additionally available to those with extraordinary ability. However, the burden to establishing “extraordinary ability” is higher in EB-1A category than it is for the O-1 category. Also different is that no offer of employment is required, and you may self-petition if intending to continue working in the same field.

Temporary visas in the P category allow admission for up to one year (though five years for athletes) and require a sponsor either abroad or within the United States. The sub-classifications are as follows:

  •  Athletes or entertainers (who are either part of an “internationally recognized” group or who are otherwise essential or integral to the group) to reside in the U.S. for the duration of their performance;
  • Artists and entertainers to participate in a reciprocal exchange program between the United States and foreign programs that provide for the temporary exchange of artists; &
  • Those performing, teaching, or coaching in a culturally unique program designed to further understanding of the art form.
Investors

If you are a citizen or national of a treaty country in the E-2 category (found here), you may pursue an E-2 visa to develop or direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested  a substantial amount of capital. The enterprise may be new or existing, but you must demonstrate that its likelihood of success within a reasonable timeframe. While you may seek to change to E-2 status from within the United States, the application will ultimately be reviewed and vetted much more thoroughly at a consulate when next entering. If granted, the visa is valid for five years and is continually renewable, with up to two years per entry. Your spouse and children, regardless of nationality, may accompany you.

If you are a citizen or national of a treaty country in the E-1 category, you may pursue this visa to continue the “substantial” international trade of goods, services, or technology with the United States. You must serve in an executive or supervisory role or otherwise possess essential skills, and the trade activities must meet several additional requirements. The visa is typically valid for five years, up to two years per entry, and is continuously renewable (though you may be expected to demonstrate compliance upon each reentry). Your spouse and children are granted admission for the same period as yourself.

Those interested in investing in a business in the United States should also consider alternative categories such as the L-1 (described above), which may be appropriate for an “organization which has been doing business in the United States through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for less than one year.” Such startups may sponsor a manager or executive to supervise and control the work of other upper-level staff or to manage an essential function––as opposed to the day-to-day operations performed by subordinates. The visa may be approved for only one year, extendable if the business remains active and operating.

An H-1B specialty occupation visa (described above) may also fit where the degree is related to the employee’s role in the company. This may be a good option for  an executive position with a defined academic preparation requirement––for example, for a Chief Technology Officer rather than for a CEO. Likewise, positions within accelerators/incubators may be appropriate.

B-1 visitor visas may also be used for the purpose of for visiting the United States to participate in meetings, negotiate contracts, starting a new business or expanding a current one––though not for employment or for day-to-day business operations.

Entrepreneurs able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in business may qualify for an O-1 visa (described above) filed by an employer or agent, though self-employment is permitted. This category may be particularly helpful where the employer is an umbrella or holding company, in which the entrepreneur can engage in several ventures. The sponsor may also be an extension of a foreign entity or an entirely new entity within the United States.

Those seeking a permanent visa (green card) through investment activities may be interested in the EB-1C category, which provides a pathway for those who have been employed outside the United States in the last three years and for at least one year by the sponsoring American employer (or an affiliate, or subsidiary of the employer) in a managerial or executive capacity.

The EB-5 category, the Immigrant Investor Program, similarly provides a path to an immigrant visa via direct investment into the United States. My office does not currently provide services for the EB-5 category, about which more information can be found here.

Students and Exchange Visitors

While attorneys are less involved in the pursuit of student and exchange visitor (EV) visas, we are familiar with the details involved as well as the concerns and practical realities of both students and schools. If you have already obtained a student or EV visa, we are able to advise and represent you regarding extensions or changes of status. Moreover, it is never too early to advise on the manner in which you might transition to employment-based visas following the conclusion of your studies.

We can help you think through both temporary and permanent solutions with strategies that address the availability of visas in different categories and related backlogs, how to move from one visa to another, where to process your applications, and what types of employment might make the most sense for you to focus on.

The processes are not intuitive, and developing a strategy in a timely manner can be essential to your ability to remain in the United States following the conclusion of your studies.

Each visa has its own narrow set of criteria––with different benefits and drawbacks, timeframes, fees, and general availability. We will consider your short-term and long-term goals, qualifications, immigration history, the type of work and employer, the availability of visas through other routes, whether the pursuit of one form of a visa will harm the potential pursuit of a different type of visa, and whether to pursue the visa through consular processing abroad or through adjustment of status in the United States. And we will take as much, or as little, time as required.

TESTIMONIALS

Matthew is world class at presenting options, assessing what will work best based on our current requirements and recommending solutions that have the best outcomes. We recommend Matthew without any reservation.

– Rajiv

  1. Matthew was very professional and followed the right procedure to handle my case which was very complicated considering that I was going through a divorce, my H4 application received an RFE and I had to quit my job where I was in H1B visa. It was very important for me not to gain illegal status considering that I had everything going against me.
  2. He understood all my concerns and took care of all scenarios to make sure I don’t gain illegal status.
  3. He gave me important points to consider and gave me the option as to what decision to make. He did not force his view point.
  4. He answered all my queries when in doubt and explained to me about every step we took and the reasons behind it.
  5. Making payments is easy through his company’s online portal.

– Shruti

I consulted Matthew about my H1-B RFE recently and after exchanging emails with him, I found his words to be the guiding light at the end of the tunnel for me. I was about to lose all hope when a couple of attorneys I consulted before him who told me that there is literally zero chance of me getting an approval for the specialty occupation RFE for my H1-B. Clearly those attorneys did not keep themselves updated with the latest happenings in the H1-B world.

Matthew told me that this is a new trend in RFE’s this year due to the executive order by Trump earlier this year and that this is not something to be panicked about as long as we approached the RFE holistically as well as providing constructive legal arguments to counter the questions posed. You can tell that he constantly keeps himself up-to-date with the latest trends/news in the immigration world. And although I have yet to hire him, he went out of his way to give me detailed explanations on how to go about tackling the RFE. This fills me with confidence in his knowledge, expertise and integrity as an attorney. If he’s willing to do that even before you decide to retain him, imagine how much more effort he will put in for you if you work with him.

Overall, I feel that Matthew is a highly competent attorney who will fight for you! He is an attorney whom I will not hesitate to recommend to anyone who needs help with their immigration case.

– Kyle