Transferring Employees from Abroad (L-1 Visa, H-1B Visa, H-2B Visa, H-3 Visa, E-1 Visa, E-2 Visa)

The transfer of all non-U.S. citizen employees to the U.S. is an important part of the planning process when opening a U.S. subsidiary of the company. A non-U.S. national cannot be paid from a U.S. business or source for services rendered unless the employee has first applied for and obtained a U.S. visa. The following types of temporary visas are available:

Non-Immigrant (temporary) visas

  • L-1 Intra-Company Transferee Visa
  • H-1, H-2, or H-3 Visa
  • E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
  • E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Permanent resident Visas

  • EB-1 Extraordinary Ability workers
  • EB-2 Advanced Degree Professionals
  • EB-3 Skilled Workers
  • EB-4 Special Immigrants (ministers and religious professionals)
  • EB-5 Permanent Resident based on substantial U.S. investment
  • O-1 and O-1(a) Visas for athletes and entertainers

The permanent resident visa is also referred to as a “green card” or “immigrant” visa.

The L-1 visa is available to foreign nationals at the executive, officer, managerial levels or persons with specialized knowledge. The applicant must have worked for a subsidiary, branch or other office of the same company in another country for at least 1 year within the last 3 years and in the same capacity for which the applicant is being transferred to the U.S. subsidiary. The L-1 employee can be of any nationality, regardless of the home country of the business and the L-1 visa requires the employee to remain employed at the same company within the U.S.

The H-1B visa is designated for someone with professional level qualifications for a professional level position. This usually requires that the applicant have at least a baccalaureate degree from a university or that a state licensure is required for that position (e.g. nursing). The H-1B visa requires the filing of an attestation (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor. The Employer is not required to advertise in the U.S. for the position. The H-1B visa holder is authorized to work only for the employer that sponsored him. The H-1B typically remains valid for 3 years before renewal is required.

The H-2B visa is for foreign workers or technicians needed to perform specific tasks. An example would be to train U.S. workers how to operate certain machinery. Labor certification is also required for the H-2B visa.

The H-3 visa is for a foreign worker to come to the U.S. to receive training from a U.S. employer.

The E-1 visa is only available for nationals of countries which have trade treaties with the United States. The E-1 is for nationals of countries under said treaty who have a U.S. subsidiary, affiliate, or branch. The E-1 must hold an executive or supervisory position in that subsidiary. At least 51% of the U.S. company’s total volume of trade must be with the treaty nation citizen’s home country. At least 50% of the U.S. company must be owned by nationals of the trade treaty country.

The E-2 visa is for nationals of a country which has a trade treaty with the U.S. The foreign company must have invested a substantial amount of capital into the U.S. operation and the enterprise must actively engaged in trade or the rendering of services. There is no legally predetermined amount of the investment, yet the amount must be substantial for that type of business. The visa applicant must either be an owner of employee of that company, or serve as a key employee in the U.S. business.