NON-IMMIGRANT BUSINESS VISAS

I visa exists for foreign media representatives who want to continue working in the United States.

This visa category includes visiting journalists and reporters, radio workers, film crews, and editors for foreign media outlets.

How to Obtain an I-Visa

To obtain an I visa, you must correspond to certain requirements:

  • You must prove that you are a nonresident working for a foreign media outlet
  • You must prove that you are visiting the US only for media and journalism
  • You must have a home office in your country of residence and/or citizenship

Arriving in the United States

When your I visa is granted and you travel to the US, your case will be assessed by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, who will stamp your visa and let you into the country if they believe that you have valuable reasons for visiting.

(The stamp will contain details about how long you can stay as well as the purpose of your visit.)

I Visa Conditions

  • You must keep working for your foreign employer during the valid period of your I visa.
  • If you change employers, you need to apply for changes in your immigration status with form I-539 and pay fees.
  • If you leave your job during the valid period of your visa, you may have your terms curtailed and may need to leave the US to apply for another visa category.

You may bring your family with you on your I visa – this includes your spouse and any children under the age of 21.

(They will not be allowed to work, but they will be permitted to study if they want to.)

There are different types of waivers. Which one will be used in your case depends on the circumstances and possible legal arguments that can be raised on your behalf. One of the commonly used waivers for non-immigrant visa applications is I-212.

The request for a waiver must be submitted together with the completed application for a non-immigrant visa to the US Consulate in the country of the applicant’s residence.

The consular officer may recommend an INA 212(d)(3)(A) waiver for any non-immigrant whose case meets certain legal criteria and whose presence would not be harmful to the U.S.

The consular officer should consider the following factors, among others, when deciding whether to recommend a waiver.        Some of them:

  1. The seriousness of the activity that caused the applicant’s inadmissibility
  2. The reason for the proposed travel to the United States
  3. The positive or negative effect of planned traveling on U.S. public interests.

The E-1 Treaty Traders visa program was created to help encourage and foster international economic activity and trade between treaty countries. 

The E-1 Treaty Traders visa is not especially hard to obtain, the requirements are pretty common.

E-1 visa holders and their families can work, live, and go to school in the U.S. for a potentially indefinite length of time while international economic activity is beneficial to the U.S.

Several of the basic requirements for obtaining an E-1 Treaty Traders visa are outlined below in answers to several of the most important questions that potential applicants may have:

What type of company and employee is eligible for?

  • The owners of the business entity in the U.S. as well as the employee applying for the visa must both be members of countries that fall under a treaty of navigation and commerce with the U.S. If the enterprise conducting business in the U.S. consists of over 50% owned by members of a treaty country, then that firm’s vital employees (such as managers, supervisors, executives, or employees with specialized expertise deemed crucial to the good functioning of the business) or the owners of the entity are eligible to obtain an E-1 visa.

What type and amount of business activity meet the “substantial trade” requirement to qualify for the E-1 visa?

  • Almost any type of business, from export and import to insurance, journalism, technology, tourism, and banking services, can match the E-1 visa requirements.

(For the E-1 program, the dollar amount of international business transactions isn’t emphasized as much as the overall volume of the transactions. This means smaller firms or even individual entrepreneurs can qualify. Another key fact to consider is that to qualify for the E-1 visa, the majority of international trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty country.)

The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. The E-2 nonimmigrant classification permits a national from a specified treaty country to gain admission to the United States if that individual is investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business enterprise.

Changing Visa Status While in the United States

A foreign national lawfully in the United States is allowed to change his or her status to that associated with an E-2 visa. This is accomplished by preparing and filing Form I-129. Form I-129 is the official instrument of the State Department that requests a change of status to the E-2 classification. Alternatively, if a qualifying employer wishes to change the status of an employee to the E-2 classification, that employer can file Form I-129 on behalf of the employee.

Obtaining an E-2 Classification Outside of the United States 

A foreign national cannot use Form I-129 to obtain an E-2 classification if he or she is physically located outside of the United States. A foreign national located outside of the United States must apply for an E-2 visa at the U.S. Consulate in the country of his residence. The process and requirements associated with applying for this type of visa can be subject to change without notice.

Foreign national interested in seeking this type of visa needs to check with the latest requirements set forth on the U.S. State Department website.

Once a visa is issued, a foreign national can then lawfully travel to the United States. Upon arrival in the United States, a foreign national will meet with a DHS immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry for final admission into the country as an E-2 nonimmigrant.

Qualifying for an E-2 Visa Classification

As mentioned previously, a key qualifier for obtaining an E-2 visa classification is a foreign national from a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. In addition, the foreign national must have made or be in the process of making a substantial investment in a U.S. business enterprise.

The foreign national must also demonstrate possession of the controlling vote or operational control in a U.S. business enterprise.

O visa was developed for those who have demonstrated extraordinary abilities in a particular field of interest. This applies to individuals with advanced skills in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, as well as entertainers in film and television.

Who Qualifies For The O-1 Visa?

The O visas are non-immigration classifications and, have several different types of allowances.

Concerning individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements, there are four sub-categories under which individuals may qualify:

  • The O-1A applicant is an individual who possesses special talents and skills associated with various fields relating to the sciences, education, business, or athletics. 
  • The O-1B application is for those involved in the motion picture industry and television.
  • The O-2 application applies to people accompanying those in the first two categories to assist in the performance of the event. In accompanying an O-1A, the individual must play an integral part in the O-1A’s duties.
  • For the O-1B assistant, the individual must be essential to the performance or act. Additionally, the O-2 worker must possess specialized talents that cannot be performed by a U.S. worker and are essential for the success of the performance to be enacted by the O-1A or O-1B.

The O-1 individual must be coming to the United States temporarily to perform the act for which he or she has achieved international or national acclaim.

For the O-1A classification, the individual must be able to demonstrate a level of ability shared only by a select percentage of the population.

The O-1B individual must be distinguished as prominent in the field of arts and must be recognized either as outstanding, immediately recognizable or as a leading star in the visual arts.

Beginning the Process of Obtaining an O-1 Visa

To initiate the application process, the individual must fill out Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The form is then filed with the USCIS office, whose contact information is listed on the form.

(The process should be started at least 45 days before the scheduled performance, but not more than one year in advance.)

Several documents must be provided at the time Form I-129 is submitted, including:

  1. Contract: A written agreement between the petitioning employer and the intended beneficiary. The contract must establish the offered position, and compensation and be accepted by the applicant. The offer of employment in the form of a letter suffices the requirement of the written agreement.
  2. Itineraries: A written document detailing the applicant’s scheduled list of duties while in the United States. The events and performances detailed on the itinerary must be within the scope of the applicant’s expertise.
  3. Evidentiary Criteria: The applicant must provide proof that his extraordinary abilities were recognized. If the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, it will completely fulfill the evidentiary criteria.

Otherwise, evidence of at least (3) three of the following must be provided:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which requires outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers, or other major media about the beneficiary
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

(If the above standards do not apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence to establish eligibility.)