US Visa Basics for HR Managers

Get US immigration law advice to go in the right direction.

So many directions to choose.

US Visa Law for Companies

At US Visa Solutions we work with many Human Resource departments within small, medium and publicly traded companies to advise on how to maneuver their key staff from one office to a US office. Here are some of the most common initial questions our corporate clients ask us:

  1. We need to send our key executive and experienced staff to the US to start our US office. What visa does she need? There is no one-size fits all visa category for this type of transfer. Assuming the company is owned and controlled by a treaty country nationals, we would initially look at either the E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Treaty Investor visa due to the procedural benefits. The L-1A Intra-Company Transferee visa requires that the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) review and approve the petition before the applicant can apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate. If the E or L visas can’t work, then we would have to look at the various other non-immigrant categories to see if one of those could work. Based on current data, there is a 60% chance the USCIS will issue a request for additional evidence which will significantly delay the whole visa process. This issue and other factors lead us to analyse other categories before deciding that the L-1 visa is the best visa under the circumstances.

  2. How long does it take to get the visa? Our executive and her family need to be there yesterday. Alright, the first thing you need to know that a US visa application is a process and in the US visa world, there rarely are instantaneous results. Your company’s business is likely to contribute a lot to the US economy which is recognized in US immigration law but the bureaucracy that is built into the visa process slows it down and it does not operate at the speed of business in the real world. This is why we work with our clients to develop a strategy for the transfer to manage the employee’s transfer and ensure that your US business expansion can keep moving forward. When it comes to timing, break the process down into its component parts: 1) client document and information gathering, 2) our firm’s time to review, identify issues and draft petition or application and 3) US government processing which can include a request for additional evidence (RFE) and unexpected changes in processing times.

  3. Can our employee travel to the US while the process is on-going? Yes, assuming the employee is travelling under the Visa Waiver Program or a B-1/B-2 Visitor visa and while in the US the employee only engages in non-productive activities such as business meetings, conferences, trade shows. If the employee is spending a lot of time in the US, the US Customs and Border (CBP) Officer at the airport may scrutinize the employee more closely to make sure they will not “work” in the US. From the employee’s perspective, the business meetings and conferences they attend in the US may all be considered “work” to them but to a CBP Officer at the border “work” is the regular, systematic productive duties that would violate US visitor status. The worst case scenario is that someone could be refused entry to the US and a lot of planning must go in to preventing this. Many of our clients have a lot riding on face-to-face meetings in the US with potential clients and it is highly embarrassing if an employee cannot attend a meeting because they’ve been refused entry to the US.

If you are a company expanding into the US market and need to transfer staff to the US, please s or call our office at +44 (0)20 7092 6830 in the UK or , from the Republic of Ireland, +353 (0)1 254 9317 to speak with one of our lawyers or send us an email at [email protected] where we can start to set a strategy in place for sending your staff to the US.