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Frequently Asked Questions: The U.S. Immigration Process

What are the most common Visa categories?

The L Visa

The L visa is for intra-company transfers which is divided into two subcategories:

  • L-1B – for employee’s with specialized knowledge
  • L-1A – for Executives or Managerial Capacity
  • To qualify:

1. The company abroad must be related to the U.S. company as a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate (the two companies must have at least 50% identical ownership interest to qualify);

2. The individual must have worked for the company abroad for at least one year in the last 3 years immediately preceding the application for admission to the U.S.; and

3. The individual must be employed in a managerial or executive capacity (for an L-1A), or have a position which requires specialized knowledge (for an L-1B).

L-1A status is available for 7 years; the first petition is issued for 3 years, then two 2-year extensions are available. There is no need to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the petition; many people travel in and out of the U.S. in L status as needed.

L-1B status is available for 5 years; the first petition is issued for 3 years, then one 2-year extension is available. As above, there is no need to remain in the U.S. for the duration.

An employee’s spouse or unmarried children under 21 years old may be granted L-2 visas. Spouses of L-1 visa holders may apply for work authorization. Other L-2 visa holder, however, are not permitted to work, although they may attend school.

The E Visa

To qualify for the E visa, the U.S. entity must be majority owned by a foreign corporation or persons, and the visa applicant must also possess the same nationality as the petitioner (U.S. entity). For example, if a German company is the owner of the U.S. entity, only German citizens can qualify for the E Visa if they are selected to be assigned to the U.S. to perform some work.

The H-1B Visa

For Professionals in Specialty Occupations. The H-1B is a temporary status with specific limitations on periods of stay in the United States. The initial petition may be approved for up to three years. After the initial period, three more years are available.

E-1 / E-2 Treaty Trader / Investor

Employee's must have the nationality of the employer/treaty country. The company has usually made a substantial investment in a business in the United States. E visas are generally issued for five years. Extensions of stay in the United States may be granted as long as eligibility continues and the treaty remains in force.

TN Professionals

Certain occupations as outlined in NAFTA Treaty (i.e. Canadian and Mexican citizen)

B-1 Visitor Visa

This Visa category is issued by the US-Consulate in the home country. It may be issued for up to 10 years. Visa holder can only carry out limited activities in the United States.

Which Government Agencies are involved in the Immigration Process?

Department of Homeland Security
ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Function: immigration enforcement within the U.S.
www.ice.gov

CBP: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Function: controls admissions through the airport, land border and sea ports of entry to the U.S.
www.cbp.gov

USCIS: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Function: handles all benefits-related filings
www.uscis.gov

Department of Labor
Function: wage and hour enforcement, labor certifications (green card process), Labor Condition Applications (H-1B process), etc.
www.doleta.gov

Department of State
Function: oversees U.S. Consulates abroad; visa issuance abroad
www.travel.state.gov and http://usembassy.state.gov

What is a standard processing time for an application?

This upon availability of the necessary application including home and host company documents as well as employee’s personal documents. HR review of the required forms after attorney preparation and the gathering of all support documentation requires active participation and attention to detail in the process before the case can be sent to the government.

However, as a government regulated practice, the review of an application is often times consuming. Strict USCIS guidelines and multiple stages directly impact the length of their application review process. The processing time required for different petitions also varies significantly. This greatly affects the time between case initiation and when your employee can begin work in the United States.

Inhouse Mobility will provide a process overview and timeline (example below), helping you to manage expectations and plan accordingly.

A listing of estimated government processing times is included below, although these ranges are constantly changing. To check the most current processing times at each service center, please visit www.uscis.gov.

Can we hire a foreign national today and have them start immediately?

Planning ahead of time and as far as possible in advance is crucial.

Once a petition is filled, the immigration process is managed by the USCIS, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. The USCIS maintains a highly regimented process to ensure that those foreign nationals entering the United States meet a number of requirements and that the proper limitations are placed on their visit. As a result, the immigration process involves a numerous stages that must be navigated by employers before they can have a foreign national begin their employment.

Inhouse Mobility is your partner in the application process ensuring your petitions are filed with the USCIS in an accurate and timely manner. We will navigate you efficiently through the process, ensuring a smooth process.

How can we speed up the process – Premium Processing Service?

Premium processing is available on various types of applications and employment-based petitions which ensures that the USCIS will adjudicate your case within 15 calendar days unless further information is requested. Once a case has been received by the government however, this is really in the USCIS’ hands. They review and process all immigration petitions at their various service centers throughout the country and there are often differences in the speed at which each center reviews different types of applications. There is also no way to control which service center receives the case to review for adjudication.

Premium processing can be added after a case has been submitted to the government. If you determine that a case needs to be expedited after the initial filing or an unexpected delay occurs, this option can jump start the process and the case will be adjudicated in 15 days from that point.

What is normal and what is an issue – Request for Additional Evidence (known as RFEs)?

Unfortunately, delays are commonplace when dealing with the USCIS in the United States. In most cases, these are nothing more than the usual challenges that arise when dealing with any government agency. As a result, those situations which could possibly develop into a problem are consistently identified early so any issues can be avoided. In those occurrences when a specific issue with a case does arise your Global Mobility Consultant will inform you immediately and provide options on how to proceed.

For example, a Request for Additional Evidence (RFE) may be issued by the USCIS if they determine further information is required to proceed with an application.

This only means, that the responsible office who is working on the petition does not approve your case yet, as he is looking for additional documentation. This could happen, although not common, RFEs do spike across various service centers and are sometimes specific to certain types of visa applications. This is not an issue, just a procedure that at times becomes more prevalent within the USCIS.

Why is some information needed for one application and not for others?

Different applications are required for non-immigrant and immigrant visa options. Each visa category has a specific set of guidelines and limitations in regards to type of employment, responsibilities involved in position, length of employment, etc.

As a result, the initial requirements, background information, and “burden of proof” may vary significantly for each.

For example, the information, background and documentation required for a Canadian citizen applying for a non-immigrant temporary work visa to work for a limited period in the U.S. is going be minor when compared to what’s required for a foreign national from overseas applying for permanent residence in the U.S. In addition, the length of time involved in the process – weeks versus years – varies as well.

 

How can Inhouse Mobility support you?

Inhouse Mobility can manages the entire immigration process which includes:

  • Case Assessment to determine the most appropriate visa category
  • Providing Process Overview
  • Providing Document Checklist
  • Preparing Application Documentation
  • Submit Application to USCIS
  • DS-160 Online Application
  • Payment of Visa Fees
  • Preparing Documents for Visa Interview
  • Scheduling Visa Interview Appointment at the US-Consulate/US-Embassy

Inhouse Mobility navigates you and your employee through the entire process.

 

 

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