There are many kinds of business-related visas, each of which has its own requirements and benefits. A full list of visa categories is available at http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html. The categories of business-related visas most commonly applied for by our clients are as follows:
- L-1 Intracompany transferees
- Optional Professional Training (OPT)
- Treaty trader/investor (E visas)
- Nonimmigrant Visa for Alien of Extraordinary Ability (O-1)
- Religious worker visas
Most work visas are for limited time periods, although some individuals may qualify for employment-related Lawful Permanent Residence (a green card). It is important to discuss short- and long-term plans with an attorney, because most temporary visas require demonstrating non-immigrant intent. Work or investment-related visas allow the visa-holder and his or her spouse and minor children to live in the U.S. for the period of time allotted to that type of visa. These initial periods of stay are between 1 and 5 years and most can be extended in increments of 1 to 3 years, depending on the kind of visa. Some work visas can be extended indefinitely (no limit on the number of extensions). The principal visa holder’s business activities must comply with the requirements of the specific visa. Depending upon the kind of visa, family members may or may not be eligible for employment. In certain cases, temporary visas may permit a broader definition of “family” than spouse and minor children.