H-1B Specialty Occupation

The H-1B Visa program is the most common visa type used by U.S. employers to hire foreign- born professionals on a temporary basis to perform work in "specialty occupations". This program allows U.S. business to recruit and hire the best-qualified candidates from around the world, and compete on a level playing field with foreign companies in such key industries as high-tech, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and education.

H-1B Job Portability:

Persons previously issued a visa or otherwise provided H1-B status can now accept new employment and start working immediately before final approval of the new petition. However if the petition is denied, work authorization ceases. In order to be eligible the individual must have been lawfully admitted to the U.S., the new petition must have been filed before the expiration of the original H1-B and the individual must not have been employed without authorization in the U.S. before the filing of such petition.

Common Visas

B-1 Temporary visitor for business - The B-visa is the most common visa issued by the United States Consular. The B-1 visa is used for specific categories of business in the United States.

B-2 Temporary visitor for pleasure - The B-2 visa is issued to tourists or visitors for pleasure. With either the B-1 or B-2, the holder of the visa may not engage in activities which will result in financial compensation unless it is paid from abroad.

E-1 Treaty Trader - The treaty trader visa allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for the purpose of directing and developing import/export trade between theU.S. and the treaty country.

E-2 Treaty Investor - The treaty investor visa allows foreign nationals to enter theUnited States for the purpose of directing and developing substantial investments made in a U.S. business.

F-1 Student - This visa is available to persons seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in a full-time academic program. While a foreign student is participating in a full-time academic program, or immediately upon graduation, the student may apply for a period of practical training. The requirements are essentially that the practical training must be related to the course of study the student is pursuing. The school will certify that the sought after practical training will benefit academic training as well. Most schools have a student advisor to assist foreign students with all the required paperwork. The practical training period lasts 12 months.

H-1B Professional in a Specialty Occupation - This is one of the most important non-immigrant visas available to qualified foreigners who want to come to the United States to perform services in a "Specialty Occupation." Specialty occupation is defined as an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge in such fields as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts. It also requires at least a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific specialty or its equivalent.

H-2 Temporary Agricultural Worker - The H-2 visa allows an agricultural worker to enter the U.S. and work for a temporary time period.

H-3 Trainee - Visa classification applicable to trainees other than medical or academic. This classification also applies to practical training in the education of handicapped children.

J-1 Exchange Visitor - This visa assumes the foreign employee will be actively engaged in on-the-job training and the employer will be gaining some productive benefits from the foreign employees activities. One of the most unusual characteristics of this visa category is that the foreign exchange visitor will be barred from filing a permanent visa petition or applying for a change of status to H or L for a period of two calendar years from the date of United States training completion. There is a Foreign Residency Requirement. This requirement states that the visa applicant may have to go back to their country of origin for two years before applying for a renewed visa.

K-1 Fiance - This visa gives someone the right to come into the country for 90 days. During this 90 days they MUST get married. When they enter the country they can apply for and receive the Employment Authorization Card. The EA Card is good for 90 days. When they actually get married, they petition the INS and they are granted a conditional status for residency. At the end of two years they petition the INS again and they are granted a permanent residence IF they can prove they have lived together as man and wife. Tax returns, joint bank accounts, children with birth certificates, etc.).

L-1 Intracompany Transferee

The L-1 visa is one of the most flexible and sought-after temporary visas which provides for employment. The purpose of the L-1 visa is to facilitate in the transfer of key employees to the United States from companies that are affiliated with or related to United States corporations. The prior employer/foreign company must be related to the United States company, either as a subsidiary, affiliate or division.

O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics

Visa issued to aliens possessing extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Such applicants must demonstrate extraordinary ability through sustained national or international acclaim.

P-1,2,3 Performing Artists and Athletes

Visa issued for the purpose of allowing performers and athletes to enter the United States to compete or perform for a temporary time period.

R-1 Religious Workers

Allows foreign ministers of religion, professional workers in religious occupations, and other religious personnel who work for a religious non-profit organization to enter the United States to perform religious work for up to five years.

TN-1 Canadian Professionals and Consultants

Allows a professional from Canadato enter the United States to perform professional work pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

TN-2 Mexican Professionals and Consultants

Allows a professional from Mexico to enter the United States to perform professional work pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Immigration Acronyms


A foreign-born person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. Aliens generally qualify for immigrant status by having a close family member or employer sponsor them.

BIA Board of Immigration Appeals

The BIA is an administrative appeals body separate and independent from the INS, and directly accountable to the Attorney General. The BIA decides appeals from decisions of immigration judges.

DOJ  Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice enforces federal laws, supervises the federal penal institutions, furnishes legal counsel in cases involving the federal government, interprets laws relating to the activities of the other federal departments, and renders legal advice, upon request, to the President and to Cabinet members. One division of the DOJ is the INS.

DOL Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor enforces U.S. labor laws and regulates workplace activities required by those laws, including those related to immigration.

EAD Employment Authorization Document

Usually takes the form of an I-688B or I-766 card. Gives the alien work authorization, and can be utilized when completing Form I-9.

EOIR Executive Office of Immigration Review

Consists of two parts, the immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Green Card 

The authorizing document for permanent residency. Although once green, it is now a different color.


Form prescribed by the IRCA to verify the employment eligibility of workers. I-9's are to be completed within three days of the employee starting work.


Form which documents that the alien has been accepted for a course of study by a school authorized by the INS to accept foreign students. This form is also used as supporting documentation when applying for an F-1 student visa.


The document received as one enters the United States which states place, date, status of entry and time allowed to remain in the U. S.


Form utilized by an employer to petition for an alien to come to the US temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training, such as on an H-1B visa. It can also be utilized for an extension of stay or change of status in certain situations.


Practical Training Application. Along with a copy of the I-20, this form is utilized by a student visa holder to obtain work authorization. If approved, the student will receive an EAD form I-766.


A card issued to aliens who are authorized to work temporarily in the United States. It is being replaced with the I-766.


Application for certain aliens who are temporarily in the United States and wish to apply to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).


A new version of the I-688B. While the document is being phased in, some work- authorized aliens will continue to receive their work authorization on the existing EAD, the I-688B.

IIRIRA Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996

This 1996 law increased penalties for many immigration violations. The law also affects legal immigrants, nonimmigrants, refugees and others in many ways.

IMMACT 90 The Immigration Act of 1990

Increased legal immigration by 35 percent, enabling more family-sponsored immigration and increasing employment-based immigration, while providing a "diversity" program for immigrants from countries traditionally underrepresented in theU.S. This program is also known as the "green card visa lottery."


An alien admitted to the U. S. as a lawful permanent resident. Immigrants are those persons lawfully accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the U. S. They may be issued immigrant visas by the Department of State overseas or adjusted to permanent resident status by the INS. The primary distinction between non immigrants and immigrants is that most non immigrants must intend to return to their country of origin after their period of authorized stay has ended, while immigrants can and normally have the intent to stay permanently in the United States.

INS Immigration and Naturalization Service

The most important DOJ unit for immigration purposes is the INS, headed by a Commissioner. The INS maintains a headquarters office in Washington D.C., as well as four regional service centers and thirty-four district offices throughout the United States and overseas.

IRCA Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

This law attempted to address the problem of illegal immigration in two ways. First, Congress granted a one-time amnesty for certain out-of-status foreign nationals, enabling them to become permanent residents. Second, Congress imposed employer sanctions on businesses who hired unauthorized workers. It also established requirements for verifying the employment eligibility of workers. That verification is done on Form I-9.

INA Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

The basic statute for current U.S. immigration law.

LCA Labor Condition Application

A form completed with the appropriate office of the DOL. It is a representation that the petitioner agrees to pay the beneficiary the prevailing wage for the job.


The process by which a foreign national acquires U. S. citizenship.


Persons who come temporarily to the United States for a particular purpose (e.g., as students, tourists, diplomats, or temporary workers). An applicant for a nonimmigrant visa usually must convince the INS or consular officer that they do not intend to immigrate to the United States and that they intend to return to their home at the end of their authorized stay.


Application for Non immigrant Visa. This form is utilized when applying for an F-1 visa.

USIA U.S. Information Agency

The U.S. Information Agency is an independent foreign affairs agency which supports U.S. foreign policy and national interests abroad. The USIA conducts international educational and cultural exchanges, broadcasting, and information programs.