Employers who wish to hire foreign workers to temporarily perform services or labor or to receive training may file a Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker. This Petition is mainly used for non-immigrant categories; thus, in most cases, workers who enter the United States under this petition must depart the U.S. when their maximum period of stay has been reached. This Petition may also be used to petition for an extension of stay or change of status for certain non-immigrants.
There are many categories of workers who may be petitioned for in the non-immigrant working category. These nonimmigrant classifications are symbolized by letters which generally correspond to the visas issued by the State Department. Only those categories incorporating employment or investment will be covered here.
To see the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that applies to temporary worker categories, see the NAFTA section on this web site.
Filing the Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker
The Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker consists of a basic petition and different supplements that apply to the various visa categories. In order to petition for a temporary worker, the prospective employer or agent must file petition together with the appropriate supplement with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accompanied by the required payment, and initial evidence or documentation.
In some cases, the employer must get a certificate from the Department of Labor prior to filing. This process is described below in the appropriate categories.
Once the petition is approved, the employer or agent is sent a Notice of Approval. Approval of a petition does not guarantee visa issuance to an applicant. Applicants must also establish that they are admissible to the U.S. under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Applying for the Visa
We will be pleased to process your Temporary Visa petition, on behalf of your employer. Our law office will carefully analyze your case and make recommendations on the most appropriate process for you or your company to pursue. We then assist with preparing documents and letters, continuing the case through the all processing stages, until the principal beneficiary receives his temporary work visa.
If the prospective worker (beneficiary) is outside of the country, he must apply for a visa. After the USCIS has approved the Petition and sent notice to the consulate in the beneficiary’s country, the beneficiary must file a visa application with the consulate. Some aliens may be visa exempt. In those cases, the Petition approval notice is sent to the port of entry (POE) where the beneficiary intends to apply for admission.
If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and is changing from one nonimmigrant status to another, a visa is not required. However, a visa may be required if the beneficiary subsequently leaves the U.S. and wishes to re-enter.
Entry into the U.S.
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. USCIS has authority to deny admission at the port of entry to any applicant who is inadmissible under INA, even if the applicant has a visa. Also, the USCIS, not the consular officer, determines the period for which the bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, USCIS officials issue Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.
When to file
We recommend that Petitions be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin or the extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed before the alien’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.
Maximum Stay Information for Temporary Employment Visas
E-1 Two (2) years Up to 2 years per extension. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.
E-2 Two (2) years Up to 2 years per extension. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.
H-1B1 Up to 3 years Increment of up to 3 years. Total stay limited to 6 years.
H-1B2 Up to 3 years Increment of up to 3 years. Total stay limited to 6 years, with some exceptions.
H-1C Up to 3 years Total stay limited to 3 years.
H-2A and H-2B Same as validity of labor certification, with maximum of 1 year. Same as validity of labor certification (increments of up to 1 year). Total stay limited to 3 years.
H-3 Special Education Training-up to 18 months. Other Trainee-up to 2 years Special Education Trainee-total stay limited to 18 months. Other Trainee-total stay limited to 2 years.
L-1A Coming to existing office-up to 3 years. Coming to new office-up to 1 year. Increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 7 years.
L-1B Coming to existing office-up to 3 years. Coming to new office-up to 1 year One increment of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years.
O-1 and O-2 Up to 3 years Increments of up to 1 year.
P-1, P-2, P-3 and their support personnel Individual athlete-up to 5 years. Athletic groups and Entertainment groups-up to 1 year. Individual athlete-Increments of up to 5 years. Total stay limited to 10 years. Athletic groups and entertainment groups-Increments of 1 year.
Q-1 Up to 15 months. Total stay limited to 15 months (Note: definition of each class of visa should display once only per chart)
R-1 and R-2 Up to 3 years Increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years.
All other Up to 1 year Increments of up to 1 year.
How Can I Check the Status of My Application?
Click on the menu button to the left, labeled “Check Case Status” and enter your file number.