If your organization is planning an expansion into the USA, you’ll probably want to bring along at least part of your existing workforce to help with the expansion. For this, you’ll need a valid USA work visa for every employee.
The USA’s visa system is very complicated and strict, even when compared with the process in other countries, so following the unique demands can be challenging for any business. It can take time to fully understand the rules and procedures, so failing to prepare properly can result in expensive delays and disruption, or even rejection of your applications.
At Horizons, our global expansion team offers extensive USA work visa support, immigration advice, and tailored outsourcing. Our services can give your organization and your employees everything they need to rapidly and compliantly start trading in the USA effectively.
Standard requirements for US work visas
The requirements for US work visas vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for. Generally, the H-1B visa for professionals will be the most suitable visa, and this has specific requirements. Firstly, the employee will need a formal job offer from a US-based employer, along with their resume/CV and proof of any relevant qualifications. The employer themselves will also need to provide documentation, including their Federal Tax ID, contact details, the application form and any associated fees, detail of the prospective employee, and details of the role in question.
It’s important that you provide a completed application with all the necessary supporting documents if you want to avoid delays and additional fees.
Types of work visas in the USA
With its enormous and highly diverse economy, it’s no surprise that the USA has a complex work visa system. There are many different kinds of specialized visas for different purposes, so you’ll need to determine which is suitable for your organization and its employees. The following are some of the most common visas available:
- H-1B visa: for professionals
- L-1A/B visa: for transfers within a company
- O visa: for people with exceptional skills or expertise
- E-2: visa for investors
- I visa: for foreign media representatives
- TN NAFTA visa: for Canadian or Mexican professionals
- H-1C visa: for nurses
Of these options, the H-1B or L-1A/B visas are likely to be the most suitable for the majority of foreign businesses, but not necessarily for your specific situation. The H-1B is often a good option as it is classed as a temporary non-immigrant visa, meaning it is generally easier to obtain than a more permanent immigrant visa.
How to obtain US work visas
Following the example of the H-1B visa, the onus is mostly on employers to apply and provide all the necessary documents for the visa.
As an employer, you will firstly need to file a petition with details of the role and the precise dates it will be starting and ending. You will then need to determine the wage for the position by finding the prevailing wage (by submitting a form to the State Employment Security Agency), and the actual wage (by comparing with similar positions in the US). Once you know these wages, you must choose the higher figure.
You will then need to formalize the process by signing and submitting a Labor Certification Application (LCA) to the US Department of Labor. If this is approved, you must then file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and wait for them to process it. If approved, you will eventually receive Form I-797, giving your employee permission to start working.
Further considerations for USA work visas
H-1B visas are issued in limited numbers annually, and once they’re gone you will have to wait until the following year to try again. This makes it particularly important to ensure you are prepared well in advance and lodge your application as early as you can.
Also, if any of your employees on an H-B1 visa need to bring their family then each of those family members will need to obtain their own visa (usually an H-4 visa).
How can Horizons help your employees work in the US?
At Horizons, we offer support for employers of all kinds throughout their expansion into the USA, and we are experts in obtaining US work permits. Our USA work visa specialists provide tailored outsourcing services to help you navigate the USA’s difficult work visa process rapidly and cost-effectively. We will ensure that you and your workforce are totally compliant with the USA’s unique immigration procedures, and simplify the entire process from start to finish.
Beyond our visa services, we also provide comprehensive outsourcing services covering HR, recruitment, payroll, administration, employer of record, and more to help your business start trading in the US as quickly and effectively as possible, even if you haven’t established a US subsidiary.