R Visa

An R-1 is an alien who is coming to the United States to be temporarily employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part-time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by:

● A non-profit religious organization in the United States;

● A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or

● A non-profit religious organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion.

To qualify, the alien must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.

R-1 visas are granted up to 30 months, though they can be extended once for a total validity of 5 years. R-1 visa holders are allowed to work within the United States but may not change organizations. They must continue working with the original organization through which they applied for the visa. They may, however, study during their time in the United States. If the visa holder wishes to bring their spouse or children, they may do so by applying for R-2 visas, but their spouses and children may not work while within the United States.


Q Visa

Also known as the “intercultural exchange visa”, Q visas apply to individuals who will be working for a limited time in a way that promotes cultural exchange and understanding. This visa has few requirements, which means the cultural component is the most important aspect of the case. We have seen teachers, performers, and large-scale acts qualify for the Q visa. Q visas are nonimmigrant visas, meaning that at the end of its duration of status, a Q visa holder will have to depart from the United States.

Q visas are ideal for foreigners looking to participate in a foreign exchange or intercultural exchange program. Ideally, if you are applying for this sort of program, you will have to first guarantee that the program is USCIS approved. The program should be aimed at giving training and employment opportunities to foreign nationals, with the purpose of sharing the international culture, traditions, and history of the applicant’s home country.

To establish your eligibility as a qualified applicant, you must

● Be of or above the age 18;

● Have been accepted into an international exchange program;

● Have the skills and knowledge required to perform whatever services they will be expected to do, specific to your cultural heritage;

● Have the communication skills needed to relate cultural information to U.S. citizens

Your sponsoring U.S. employers must also establish their eligibility as qualified employers. They do not need to obtain any specific certifications ahead of time, but they should be ready to demonstrate that they:

● Are currently conducting business in the United States

● Have named and designated an employee to act as a liaison between the organization and the USCIS

● Can make any cultural exchange service available to the public by way of a program, performance, museum display, or school seminar, or any other venue outside of a private home property.

● Will employ the applicant to share the culture, customs, history, and heritage unique to their home country

● Will reimburse the applicant with a wage and working conditions no different than those that would be offered to a U.S. citizen for comparable work

● Are financially stable enough to pay the applicant on time and in accordance with their employment contract

The Q visa is fairly broad in its scope, though, and many programs can qualify as long as they meet the criteria listed above. A Q visa application might also have other requirements depending on the various types of programs. It is best to consult with an attorney to see if your program qualifies.

Q visas are usually issued for the duration of the contract with your employer. They can be extended up to 15 months, but after that period, they are considered maxed out and cannot be extended any further. Q visas are a little unique, though, in that visa holders are given a 30-day grace period to leave the country. If you wish to return to the United States with another Q visa, you will have to wait a full year before applying again.

If you plan to enter the United States with a Q visa, but would like to bring your spouse and children, you may do so. Spouses and children under the age of 21 should apply separately with a Q-3 visa, while you should apply with a Q-1 visa. They will have to submit their documents individually, using their own application forms and passports.

M Visa

This visa is similar to an F1 but it is normally for programs that have a shorter duration. M1 visa holders will process similar to an F1 and will only qualify for a limited post-completion OPT. You should work with your school to ensure you are on top of all the requirements and properly maintain status while in the US.


Compared to an F1 visa, which is granted to foreign students wishing to pursue a Bachelors or Graduate degree from an American university, the M1 visa is granted to students pursuing a short-term non academic or vocational training program. M1 visa holders are not authorized to work in the U.S. during their time in the country. They must also have evidence of sufficient financial backing to cover the cost of their program and any expenses while residing in the United States.

Foreign nationals who apply for an M1 visa cannot use it for “general” study purposes. Programs for which M1 visas are granted should have a set goal and the applicant must be enrolled in a full course of classes.

This means at least 12 credit hours per semester or quarter, depending on the school’s curriculum. The applicant must plan to attend a school in which anyone else would be charged the full tuition for a semester of classes. The only possible exemption is if a smaller course load would be required to finish out the program.

Applicants should be sure that the programs to which they are applying are well-recognized in the academic world. If applying to a junior or community college, the school’s credits would have to be accepted by at least 3 other higher learning institutions to qualify. If the school’s credits do not qualify, the application may still be processed if the applicant is enrolled in a DSO certified program in which they are required to attend a minimum of 18 study hours a week.

Applying for an M1 visa involves multiple steps, including admission into a school or program. The college or university should inform their applicants what they need to determine whether or not the application is eligible for their school. The school will also need to say that the applicant is financially able to support themselves, cover the cost of tuition, and not have to work during their period of stay in the United States. Some schools may also require that their applicants have international health insurance policies. Before sending any of these documents, it’s wise to hold onto a copy for your own records.

If you are accepted into a college or university, they will then issue you a form I-20 with which you can apply for a student visa. Fill out the form and submit it to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country or place of permanent residence. If you are not currently located in your home country or place of permanent residence, you may still apply at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, though the processing and qualification time may take longer and will be more likely to be denied.

Be prepared for the following when applying for an M1 visa:

● Pay a non-refundable $160 application fee;

● If you are a male between the ages of 16 and 45, you must submit a completed DS-157 form;

● Submit a passport with at least six months’ validity after the intended date of entry.

● Provide a color passport photo taken within the past six months that reflect your current appearance.

It is also important to note that when you apply for an M1 visa, you will have to prove to the consular officers that you have a strong connection to a resident in a foreign nation. This is to guarantee that you have no intention of leaving them permanently. This person may be your parent, sibling, or spouse. The intention here is that you must prove that you will return to your home country once you have finished the vocational program.

Bringing hard evidence with you is recommended because it can bolster your case. If you have access to proof of ownership over some property, proof that your immediate family is currently residing in your home country, proof that you pay a monthly mortgage overseas, a letter of invitation to a company in your home nation, or even the deed to a car can be enough to satisfy their request. Just be prepared to prove that you will not overstay your visa after completing your studies.

K3 Visa

The K3 visa is intended for spouses married to a U.S. citizen who wish to live in the United States with their husband or wife while waiting to complete the process of applying for a Green Card. Couples must be legally married to qualify for this type of visa. Other qualifying criteria include:

● The applicant must currently be residing in a foreign nation;

● The applicant must have a valid passport;

● The spouse who is a U.S. citizen must have already submitted their sponsorship to the USCIS. The applicant must also have a receipt showing that the sponsorship form is under review;

● An approved form I-129 must be submitted to the U.S. Consulate nearest to the applicant;

● The spouse who is a U.S. citizen must have the financial means to support their spouse;

● If the spouse who is a U.S. citizen falls 100% below the Federal Poverty Guidelines, the couple must also have a joint sponsor file an affidavit of support.

These guidelines mean that three separate forms must be submitted to apply for a K3 visa.

The first form is an I-130, which is a Petition for Alien Relative. The spouse who is a U.S. citizen must submit this form to the USCIS with proof of their citizenship, a form G-325A for both themself and their spouse, a copy of their foreign spouse’s passport, their foreign spouse’s birth certificate, their marriage certificate, passport photos for both spouses, and any divorce, death, or annulment documents from any previous marriages.

The second form you will need to prepare is an I-129F. This is a Petition for Alien Fiancé. The spouse who is a U.S. citizen must submit this form with proof of their U.S. citizenship, their foreign spouse’s official passport, their marriage certificate, passport photos for both spouses, all I-94 documents from previous trips to the United States, a receipt for Form I-130, and any divorce, death, or annulment documents from any previous marriages. A certified translation will have to be submitted with the original marriage license if it is not in English.

After receiving confirmation that the USCIS has approved form I-129F, you may then go on to electronically submit form DS-160. To do so, you must make a user account through the U.S. Department of State’s website or you may submit a physical copy. If you submit form DS-160 electronically, you will receive a barcode that you should hold onto for future use.

After all three forms have been processed, you can then submit the $245 visa fee and schedule an interview at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Be sure to check with the Embassy or Consulate to find out what documents you should bring for the interview.

Due to the repeated back and forth of sending forms in for confirmation, K3 visas generally take a while to finally get approved. Between the processing times for forms I-130, I-129, and DS-160, combined with the amount of time it takes to get an interview, the entire process can take as long as nine months.

To help expedite this timeline, you should contact your attorney who can help speed things along and guide you through the application process.

K1 visa

This a visa for a fiancé of a U.S. citizen. The process starts with a petition in the United States and ends with a Consular interview where the fiancé must prove a physical meeting within the past two years. The major benefit is that if you enter on the K1 visa you can skip the I-130 which is the first step of the Green Card adjustment process.


To qualify for a K1 fiancé visa, you must intend to go through with your marriage within 90 days of entering the United States on a K1 visa. The marriage must be a valid marriage built on a long-standing relationship, and with the intent of forming a future life together. The marriage cannot be for the sole purpose of applying for a visa, green card, or any other immigration benefit.

If the marriage is completed within the first 90 days of being within the United States, your K1 spouse may then apply for permanent resident status and receive their Green Card.

During the application process, you will be interviewed and heavily scrutinized to prove the legitimacy of your relationship. Be prepared to provide proof that you and your fiancé have seen each other at least once in the past two years before the application. There are exceptions to this, though, in the case that the two of you meeting would violate local cultural customs and traditions, or if the meeting would have resulted in severe hardship for the sponsoring party. You will have to apply for a waiver if this is the case.

This is highly relevant to same-sex couples who may not be able to openly display their relationships in a way that would provide physical evidence of their meeting. However, under the July 1, 2013 directive from the Secretary of Homeland Security, visa applications will be processed equally regardless of the sexuality of the applicants. This means that regardless of the applicants’ sexualities, they will be eligible for K1 fiancé visas.

During your interview, be prepared to answer questions including but not limited to the following:

● Have you been married before? If so, why did the marriage end?

● Have you ever been sponsored for a K1 visa before? If so, what happened to the relationship?

● What is your fiancé’s full name, birthday, and age?

● Describe where your fiancé lives

● Have you met your fiancé’s parents? If not, why?

● How many siblings does your fiancé have, what are their names, and have you met them?

● What languages does your fiancé speak?

● Why do you love your fiancé?

● Has your fiancé ever been married before?

● When, where, and how did you meet?

● How often do you meet and how long have you been dating?

● What activities do you do together, what interests do you share, how do you maintain communication over a distance, and is that hard for you?

● What are your plans for the wedding and your future together?

For couples who have already married overseas or who plan to marry overseas, K1 visas are nonapplicable. If the applicant is already residing in the United States under a different visa type, a K1 visa is also nonapplicable. Instead, you should look into how to apply for a Green Card.

After your fiancé is admitted into the U.S. on a K1 visa, they may immediately begin looking for employment. They should do so by filling out and submitting form I-765 for employment authorization. Should you fail to marry within 90 days, the visa will expire and your spouse will have to leave the U.S. If they do not leave, they will be subject to an immigration violation and may be deported. K1 visas cannot be extended, so it is crucial that you meet this deadline.

If, for whatever reason, the marriage was postponed but you still marry after the 90 days, you may apply for a Petition for Alien Relative with form I-130. If your fiancé has children under the age of 21, they will also be eligible for entry through your fiancé’s K1 visa. Just be sure to include their names on the application.

I visa

The I visa is probably the most underrated visa available to foreign nationals working in film and media.  The I visa allows representatives of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media to enter the United States in connection with the news gathering process, as well as informational or educational documentary films or a television series.

Most often we see this visa held by journalists and reporters, but it also includes members of a media or documentary film crew, videotape editors, employees of independent production companies, or anyone essential to the foreign information media function. The category includes online, print, and film activities. The foreign media organization for which the I visa applicant is representing should have a home office outside the United States.

Typically, the I visa has been used by individuals with foreign press credentials to enter the U.S. to report for their foreign media outlet. However, this visa is very versatile since it can also be used for documentary filmmakers.

I visas are normally valid for five years, however, the length of time can vary depending on the Consulate. If the I visa holder leaves the foreign media organization that sponsored them, the I visa will no longer be valid as it is specific to their work for the sponsoring foreign media organization.

When entering U.S. territory with an I visa, border officials will issue a form I-94 and authorize your entry for the duration of your visa’s status. If your Form I-94 indicates a shorter duration, you need not apply for an extension, as long as you continue working for the same media employer.

I visas are usually issued for a period of one to five years, however, if after that period is up, you wish to extend the visa, you can do so by filling out and submitting a form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Furthermore, a Form I-539 must also be filled out and submitted if you need to request a change of employer. If doing so, you will need to present evidence of your current employment status and a letter from the new employer describing your position in their media organization.

If you intend to enter the United States with an I visa but will be bringing your spouse and children, they may also be eligible to apply for I visas. Note that for children to be eligible, they must be under the age of 21. If they are applying later than you, to follow-to-join, they will need a copy of your I visa for their applications. Spouses and children may not work in the United States while possessing a joint I visa, but they may attend U.S. schools without needing an F1 student visa.

For family members wishing to come for a short-term visit, it is recommended that they apply for a B-2 nonimmigrant visa instead. The I visa is intended only for media employees and their families who will be residing long-term in the United States. Family wishing to come to visit you may also qualify for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and if so, they can enter the country without a visa. Foreign media representatives do not qualify for this program.

One more thing to note about the I visa; though mostly used by journalists, documentary filmmakers, and members of foreign new teams, I visas are also available for foreign nationals representing a tourist bureau. The bureau must be owned and operated by a foreign government and it should be related to factual tourism about the United States. If you believe you or your organization qualifies, it is best to either contact an attorney or speak with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

F 1 Visa

Also known as a student visa, the F-1 visa allows an individual to enter the U.S. to engage in full-time study at a qualified U.S. school. The student visa is normally valid for 5 years and requires a form I-20 at all times, from the point of application throughout the entire period of having F1 status in the US. Students normally begin the process by enrolling in school and obtaining an I-20 through the SEVIS system. After that, you will need a Consular interview before traveling to the US.

Upon arrival at a port of entry, a student has to show an I-20 along with a visa to enter the US.  Thereafter, all travel on an F1 visa will require a valid I-20 showing ongoing status in a full-time program. Students cannot travel on ESTA or a tourist visa. It is important to know the rules and abide by all set regulations.  In this case, always be aware of your F1 status, which is found on the I-20. Your visa is valid for five years at a time, and is granted by a U.S. Consulate.

CPT or Curricular Practical Training is a part-time work authorization that schools grant to foreign students based upon their program and degree requirements. While international students are permitted to work on campus, this is limited. CPT is a specific permission to work off-campus, often as part of an internship program. CPT in some graduate programs can be full-time, but you should check with your Designated School Official (“DSO”) to find out how to qualify and what limits, if any, relate to CPT.

OPT or Optional Practical Training is a granted permission to work while on the F1 visa. While a DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS, it is the student who must apply for the work permit with the USCIS. If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD. The student must not begin working before the start date on the EAD.

Pre-completion OPT is work permission granted prior to completion of a program. This can be part-time or full-time authorized employment, but should be carefully reviewed because pre-completion OPT can preclude post-completion OPT in some circumstances.

Post-completion OPT is work authorization granted for a period of 12 months after the completion of a program. There are a variety of rules that apply to OPT, and it is extremely important that students work closely with their DSO to apply properly and on time. We recommend that students plan for OPT in their Junior year to ensure that they will qualify.

STEM OPT is a two-year extension available to students who graduated in designated fields, which are classified by their school as STEM-related. This additional two-year period has specific filing requirements different from post-completion OPT, such as E-verify and the training program form. STEM OPT is a huge benefit and students should be aware of this when they begin their school program. It is essential to know exactly which programs are designated as STEM, since school programs can vary. Check with your DSO because they will know how SEVIS designates your program.

Reinstatement of student status – It is common that some students have an unexpected incident, such that they fail to maintain full-time student status. This can be difficult since F1 students must maintain a full-time course load to meet the requirements of a valid status. If a student drops below 12 credit hours, they may be told that they are out of status. It is very important to contact an attorney to quickly address this issue. Under the law, students can apply to reinstate student status, but they must do so within 5 months, and they must have a new I-20. This is one of the situations in which you have to work with both your school and an attorney.

Keep in mind that a short period of study can fit into the B2 visa, while shorter programs can also fit into an M visa. There is plenty more to talk about with student visas, just call an attorney if you get lost!

E 3 Visa

This visa is unique to citizens of Australia. The visa is roughly the same as the H-1B (see below), but since it is for Australian citizens only, it has a lower level of demand. To qualify you must:

● Be a national of Australia;

● Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;

● Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials;

● Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.

To apply for the position, you will need to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA), which will set the wage for the position, and then USCIS can approve the petition. As always, details and supporting documents are required for a successful application. Don’t rely on being Australian with a bachelor’s degree to qualify. It takes a lot more than that!

Per the USCIS regulations, you should be employed in a job that relies on “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to perform the occupation.” This means that you should hold a degree common and specific to an industry or hold a position so unique to the industry that only someone with your degree and experience could fulfill the responsibilities of said job.

Some of the most commonly considered positions include engineers, lawyers and other legal professionals, economists, financial analysts and accountants, professors, doctors and other medical specialists, architects, mental health workers, and so on. These jobs generally require skills and knowledge considered niche to that field. If you don’t see your career field listed above, don’t panic; the list is quite long and it’s impossible to name every job that qualifies for an E3 visa.

The visa is valid for two years and spouses of E3’s are eligible for a work permit. You will need to file the work permit, known as the employment authorization document, or EAD once you are already in the United States. There is no time limitation on the E3 visa; however, you should consult with an attorney just to make sure you can show ties to your home country and non-immigrant intent.

Similar to the H-1B, as an E3 employee, you can change your employer through a filing with USCIS once you are already inside the US. Keep in mind that changes to employment may require an amended filing.


E 2 Visa

The E-2 visa permits an owner and/or certain employees of a qualifying entity to enter the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of a commercial enterprise in which the qualifying investor or entity has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. Similar to the E-1 visa the business must be a foreign-owned corporation. The treaty investor must establish that he/she has acquired a controlling interest (at least 50%) in the U.S. entity and must be working in an executive capacity or performing essential services. The E-2 visa is generally granted as a 5-year multiple entry visa but, in the discretion of the U.S. Consulate, can be granted for shorter periods from 1-3 years for newly established investment enterprises and depending upon treaty agreements between the applicant’s home country and the US

Once again there are detailed requirements:

● The investor, either a person, partnership, or corporate entity, must be a citizen of a treaty country. This includes 80 different countries, worldwide, so be sure to check with your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy to find if your country qualifies.

● If a business, must be at least 50 percent owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.

● The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. The investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. Though not expressly noted in the requirements, Consulates and Embassies generally do not approve applications investing less than $100,000. In some circumstances, though, these applications may qualify as low-cost start-up investments.

● The investment must be in a real operating enterprise, an active commercial, or an entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative, or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

● It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and your family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.

● You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.

● You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

The E-2 visa presents the same challenge as the E-1 visa in that it has dual jurisdiction. This means that you can process a case at a U.S. Consulate or you can process a case with USCIS – however you cannot take a USCIS approval to the Consulate for a visa as you could with almost any other NIV case.  Instead, if you have approval from USCIS, you can simply use it to live and work in the U.S. However, you cannot use it to travel. This will require consultation with an attorney to properly strategize and plan the filing since you will likely need to file both.

The most common question we get about E visas is not about how to qualify, but about where to file and how to plan for the two different types of filings. Importantly, the Consulate bases their decision on the standards in the Foreign Affairs Manual, while USCIS bases their decision on the standards in the INA and federal regulations.


E 1 Visa

The E-1 visa permits an individual and/or certain employees of a qualifying entity to enter the U.S. to carry on substantial trade (including trade in services or trade in technology), principally between the U.S. and the country of which they are nationals or citizens. This Treaty Trader Visa requires you to engage with a U.S. business, typically a corporation, that is owned 50% by a foreign national.  You must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country.

Basic qualifications:

● You must be a citizen of a treaty country;

● The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise;

● The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;

● More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country;

● Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other; and

● You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

The E-1 visa is tricky because you can apply for it inside the U.S. directly with USCIS, or you can apply directly to a U.S. Consulate in your home country. Be advised this can be confusing and result in a waste of time and money if you do not plan properly.

The requirements for an E-1 visa allow attorneys to consult with clients well in advance of the filing to develop the business plan, gather evidence, and strategize on how and when to file the case. This visa requires the help of an attorney far ahead of any submittal to hash out a plan for how the owners, employees, and U.S. staff will be properly hired, vetted, and paid. While these visas are complex, they are normally approved when the business activities are visible and well documented.

Both E1 and E2 visas can be obtained for owners and employees of E qualifying companies. Talk to an attorney to review the E employee qualifications.

D Visa

This is a visa for crew members of ships and planes to arrive in the United States for a limited stay of fewer than 29 days, normally scheduled to depart on the same vessel. Often these crew members are granted a transit visa C-1 which allows them to enter the U.S. to transit to another carrier/vessel. If applied for jointly with a D-Visa, you may be issued a combined C-1/D-Visa

The application process will vary depending on which U.S. Embassy or Consulate you apply at. Before sending off any documents, be sure to check with the receiving Embassy or Consulate’s website and requirements. Applications can usually be found online, listed as Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. You will need to print out the application, fill it out, and bring it to your interview along with a passport photo taken within the last six months.

After preparing your application, schedule an interview with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Applicants aged 13 years and younger, or 80 years and older, generally do not require an interview, though be sure to contact your local Embassy or Consulate to be certain. If you are not currently located in your home country, due to the conditions of your employment, you may apply through the Embassy in the country you are currently located. Be prepared for a lengthier application process, though.

The amount of time you will have to wait to receive an interview varies based on your location, the time of the year, and the type of visa for which you are applying. For the best results, apply early.

For your interview, you should prepare:

● $160 non-refundable application fee;

● Provide a color passport photo taken within the past six months that reflect your current appearance.

● Fee payment receipt for proof of payment;

These documents are to be submitted along with form DS-160, as discussed above. Each applying individual must submit a separate application form with their own passport.

During the interview, an officer will question you to determine whether or not you qualify for a crewmember visa. You may be asked to provide additional documentation. These often include:

● Evidence of transit from one vessel to another

● Purpose of your trip

● Ability to pay any expenses for the trip

Having proof of a family member, employer, or business in the country is often evidence enough to show a purposeful intent to enter the country. If you personally do not have the funds to cover the cost of the trip, you may use another person’s information, provided you have evidence of a connection.

Please note that you will not qualify for this type of visa if you are coming to the U.S. for:

● Dry dock repairs;

● Fishing vessel with home port in the US;

● Private yacht staying in the U.S. for more than 29 days;

● Outer Continental Shelf – crew members in transit to the Outer Continental Shelf are not granted a D visa.

It is best to obtain a B1 visa if you are seeking to enter for these purposes. If traveling with family or dependents who will not be performing duties on the vessel, they should also apply for a B-Visa.

29 days after entry into the United States, anyone holding a D visa must depart American waters or they will be held responsible for overstaying their visa. This means that the vessel must have entered international waters within the time limit. International waters are classed as 12 nautical miles from any U.S. port or territory, including Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the continental U.S., and the Alaskan archipelago.

CW 1

The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) visa classification allows employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for permission to employ aliens who are otherwise ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker categories. This visa is designed to increase the Northern Mariana Islands’ workforce which, as a small and isolated chain of islands in the Pacific, is relatively low and aging.

Without a way to bring in workers from the Philippines and China, the Northern Mariana Islands’ economy would not survive. Unfortunately, though, many of the people seeking employment in the Islands do not qualify for a standard B2 or H-1B visa. As a workaround to this problem, Congress instituted the CW-1 visa to specifically address the unique needs of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Applicants seeking a CW-1 visa should know before applying that there are set limits on the number of CW-1 workers allowed into the Islands each year. These limits are job-specific and are updated relatively frequently. This means that you could be put on a waiting list or denied based on the number of workers already permitted to enter the Islands.

To qualify, employers must:

● Obtain an approved temporary labor certification (TLC) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and consider all available U.S. workers for the position;

● Be engaged in a legitimate business, including participation in the E-Verify Program, as defined at 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(vii);

● Offer terms and conditions of employment consistent with the nature of the employer’s business in the CNMI;

● Comply with all federal and CNMI requirements relating to employment. Examples include nondiscrimination, occupational safety, and minimum wage requirements;

● Pay reasonable transportation costs if the alien is involuntarily dismissed from employment for any reason before the end of the period of authorized admission; and

● Comply with the semiannual reporting requirement by timely filing Form I-129CWR, Semiannual Report for CW-1 Employers.

An alien may be classified as a CW-1 nonimmigrant during the transition period, beginning on Nov. 28, 2009, and ending on Dec. 31, 2029, subject to the CW-1 cap, if he or she:

● Is ineligible for any other employment-based nonimmigrant status under U.S. immigration law;

● Will enter or stay in the CNMI to work in an occupational category designated as needing alien workers to supplement the resident workforce;

● Is the beneficiary of a petition filed by a legitimate employer who is doing business in the CNMI;

● Is not present in the United States, other than the CNMI;

● Is lawfully present in the CNMI if present in the CNMI; and

● Is admissible to the United States or is granted any necessary waiver of a ground of inadmissibility.

Generally, an alien classified as a CW-1 nonimmigrant may not be employed in a construction and extraction occupation, unless the alien is a long-term worker who was admitted or otherwise granted status as a CW-1 during each fiscal year from 2015 through 2018 (Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2018)

However, this regulation was slightly modified as of 2020, under the Disaster Recovery Act. In anticipation of future natural disasters, the limit on how many construction and extraction workers can work in the Islands has been raised to 3,000 employees. This bump is only relevant through the year 2022, though. To qualify for a CW-1 visa under the Disaster Recovery Act, you must be engaged in labor that relates directly to disaster recovery or prevention. This includes construction, renovation, and repair work detailed in a contract or subcontract connected to prevention and disaster relief.

CW-1 visas are generally granted for one year, but they can be extended up to a total of three years. When a CW-1 visa is granted, the visa holder is given a 10-day grace period before the visa takes effect and a 10-day grace period after the visa expires in which time they can either leave the Islands or finalize a petition for an extension.

After extending a CW-1 visa for a second time, if you wish to extend it further, you must first leave the Islands for 30 days before your employer can file a petition for an extension. If you wish to bring dependents with you to the Islands, you are permitted to do so, but they must already be lawfully present in the CNMI when you file form I-539 for them to receive a CW-2 visa. They must also depart for the same 30-day period if you wish to extend your visa after already extending it twice.

This visa is very specific, requires an employer, and will likely be approved if you can show the CNMI connections and the proper job duties. Thanks to the economic and demographic situation in the Northern Mariana Islands, it is fairly easy to get approved for this type of visa, as long as there is not already an abundance of people working in your current career field. Definitely consult with an attorney if you are planning on filing for this visa, as they can help you work out any kinks or setbacks that might prevent you or a potential employee from being approved.

Border Crossing Card

The Border Crossing Card (“BCC”) qualifies as both a BCC and as a B1/B2 visa. The BCC (also referred to as a DSP-150) is issued to citizens of Mexico as a laminated card, similar to the size of a credit card, and has enhanced graphics and technology. By including enhanced scanning features, border officials can quickly authenticate the entrant’s identity by comparing their biometrics, photos, and fingerprints. This vastly reduces the amount of time it takes entrants to cross over the border.

A BCC is valid for travel until the expiration date on the front of the card, usually ten years after issuance. To qualify:

● Applicants must be a citizen and resident of Mexico;

● Possess a valid Mexican passport;

● Must meet the standard B1/B2 requirements;

● Demonstrate, through documentation, very strong ties to Mexico that would compel them to return;

● Pay a $160 application fee. For children under the age of 15, this fee is reduced to $16;

A BCC application is highly scrutinized and requires travel history, strong ties, and a good interview. The application will be thoroughly vetted by the Department of State, and you should expect to undergo the following process:

● Taking fingerprints

● Submitting photographs

● Providing information regarding your current residence

● Employment history

● Reasons for entering the United States

● Security Checks including a review of any possible links to terrorist organizations, criminal history, or previous immigration violations. If any of these are found, they will be considered criteria for disqualification.

● An interview in which you must express yourself well to impress a normally skeptical Consular Officer

This type of entry document is normally not eligible for extension, however, entry on a BCC can lead to other opportunities including Change of Status and/or adjustment of status in the immediate relative category. As a BCC qualifies as both a B1 and B2 visa, they are intended for people with regular short-term business trips in the border areas or for Mexican nationals who enjoy leisure activities across the border.


A BCC acts as a multiple-entry visa, allowing Mexican citizens to enter the United States border areas an unlimited number of times during the ten-year period for which the card is valid. However, card holders may only stay within U.S. borders for a 30-day period and cannot travel farther than 25 miles from the border.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If entering through Arizona, cardholders may travel within 75 miles of the border, and if entering through New Mexico, they may travel within 55 miles of the border. Mexican citizens who enter the U.S. with a BCC are not required to obtain a form I-94, which states the terms and conditions of entering and leaving the United States.

For Mexican citizens who are members of the Texas Band of Kickapoo Indians or the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, it is advised that they apply for a Form I-872 and enter using an American Indian Card. Anyone entering the United States by these means must abide by the same time and distance restrictions, but the application process and interview will be more specific to the individual’s situation.

For BCC card holders who wish to travel beyond the 25-mile border area or who intend to stay longer than 30 days, they will be required to obtain a form I-94. To do so, they must undergo a secondary inspection, involving a thorough assessment of their belongings, a review of their travel documents, a biometrics scan, a database query, and another in-depth interview. Applicants applying for a Form I-94 will be expected to pay a $6 processing fee, as well.

BCC cards are valid forms of identification while traveling within U.S. borders and are applicable at air, sea, and land ports of entry. If entering by sea and requesting a form I-94, this documentation will be issued electronically. If entering by land, it will be issued by paper.

B2 Visa

This is a typical Tourist visa, which allows individuals to come into the United States for a limited period of time to engage in tourist activities. Individuals from ESTA/Visa Waiver countries generally should use the ESTA process for tourism. This can be done at any port of entry into the country and is completely automated. Foreign nationals who wish to travel for leisure but do not qualify for an ESTA/Visa Waiver must have a valid tourist visa in their possession before arriving in the country. Tourist activities are not solely limited to tourism. The following activities may also qualify for this type of visa:

● Tourism

● Vacation (holiday);

● Visit with friends or relatives;

● Medical treatment;

● Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations;

● Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating; and

● Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation).

The B2 visa is similar to the B1 visa, in that a short visit is normally limited to six months, with a one-year maximum permitted by law. However, these visas may remain valid for return trips depending on your nationality. For some nationalities, you will qualify for a ten-year visa with multiple entries, though for others, you may only qualify for a single-entry visa valid for three months. The visa fee will also vary depending on your nationality, with some costing absolutely nothing and others costing as much as $350.

The application process varies by Consulate, however, you can generally submit a DS-160 application online and then schedule an interview. You should know your final date of status so that you can file an extension in advance should you need more time to complete your tourist goals. If you do not have a stamp you will need to check your digital I-94, which is available online through the CBP website using your passport number and date of birth.

B1 Visa

This visa is generally known as the Business visitor to the United States visa. Individuals from all countries are eligible, except for those who qualify for an ESTA/Visa Waiver. The B1 visa is generally used to:

● Consult with business associates;

● Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference;

● Settle an estate;

● Negotiate a contract; and

Participate in short term training. The application process varies by Consulate, however, you can generally submit a DS-160 application online and then schedule an interview. During the interview, you will be asked a series of questions. These include but are not limited to the following:

● What reason do you have for traveling in the United States?

● What is your job?

● For whom do you work?

● In the past two years, to which other countries have you traveled?

● Do you have dependents? If so, how many and will they be accompanying you?

● Will you be joined by other members of your company?

● How long is your intended period of stay?

● Who will cover the expenses of your trip?

● What is your annual income?


If you are visiting the United States on a B1 visa, you are eligible to stay for the period stamped in your passport.  If you do not have a stamp, you will need to check your digital I-94, which is available online through the CBP website, using your passport number and date of birth. You should know your final date of status so that you can file an extension in advance should you need more time to complete your business activities. Keep in mind that the initial period of stay is up to 6 months. If an extension is required, you may request an additional 6 months. Thus, the maximum period, for one trip, is generally one year.

L 1B Visa

The L1B is for a foreign worker coming to the U.S. to perform services as an employee applying specialized knowledge for a U.S. branch of a multinational company. It is not enough to have an agent or office in both the U.S. and abroad to meet the definition of “doing business.” Rather, the company petitioning the L1B visa should be actively providing goods and/or services and earning revenue.

In this type of situation, we need to establish:

1.    that the U.S. company is a qualified organization; and

2.    that the occupation requires the application of “specialized knowledge.”

The employee must have worked overseas for one year out of the last three and must be able to show knowledge that is secret or proprietary. Usually, we will look for something unique about the employer’s products, research, equipment, services, or management style to see if you qualify for this visa. An L1B visa is issued initially for three years (unless the employee is entering the U.S. to establish a new office) with one two-year extension for a maximum stay of five years.

The L1B is a very narrowly defined visa, but it can also fit into so many different situations. The best way to analyze an L1B is to first check off the “1 in 3” and the overseas relationship. If you have those aspects well-documented, you should contact an attorney to discuss the specialized knowledge part of the case.

L 1A Visa

The L1A visa classification is reserved for intracompany transferees who are seeking to enter the U.S. as an executive or manager. There are two basic components to an L1A petition: (1) a qualifying corporate relationship, and (2) a beneficiary with qualifying employment. The corporate relationship requires an overseas company that is connected to a U.S. company through affiliation or another ownership interest.

This is only the first of several complex requirements. The second aspect of this visa is the requirement that the beneficiary work as an executive or manager overseas for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States, and that he or she will be coming to the U.S. to work in the same capacity. As you may have guessed, these words have very specific meanings in immigration law. As a result, this part of the case must be very specific.

Executive Capacity means an assignment in an organization in which the employee primarily:

1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;

2. Establishes goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

4. Receives only general supervision from higher-level executives, board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

Since the L1A does include individuals who are “managers,” this title has a separate definition.

Managerial capacity has been defined to mean an assignment with an organization in which the employee personally:

1. Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;

2. Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;

3. If another employee or other employees are directly supervised, has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) or, if no other employee is directly supervised, function at a senior level respect to the function managed; and

4. Exercises discretion over day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in the managerial capacity merely by the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professionals.

An L1A beneficiary will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years (unless he or she is entering the U.S. to establish a new office).  Requests for L1A extensions may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years until the beneficiary has reached the maximum limit of seven years.

After reaching the seven-year limit, applicants must reside outside of the United States for at least one year before they may reapply. It is also possible to apply to “recapture” time by appealing any of the days you might have been outside this U.S. This applies to overseas business, travel, or vacation. To do so, you will need evidence of your absence such as boarding passes, I-94 forms, or flight confirmation emails.

Alternatively, it may be easier to apply for a change of status. The L1A is a very complicated visa.  We have had many different types of clients qualify for this visa, but once again it takes careful planning to get an approval in this category.

J Visa

This is a very diverse visa category that can apply to:

● Professors and research scholars

● Short term scholars

● Trainees

● Interns

● Teachers

● College Students

● Secondary School students (host family)

● Specialists

● Foreign National Physicians

● Camp Counselors

● Au Pairs

● Summer Work Travel Programs

● Government Visitors

● International Visitors

Most often these programs are hosted by a U.S. company that has been given a charter by the U.S. Department of State for specific functions. For this reason, you may see many host companies who will assist in the visa process.

One aspect of the J1 visa is the return home requirement noted under section 212(e). Since the J1 visa has a cultural exchange element, foreign nationals normally have a return home requirement. This requirement can be waived when you obtain the DS 2019 as part of the visa approval process. When it is not waived, foreign nationals must file a waiver of the return home requirement under:

1. No objection;

2. Request by U.S. government agency;

3. Persecution if you return home;

4. Exceptional hardship to U.S. spouse or child;

5. Designated by a State Public Health Department.

Each of these categories has many details and requirements, so it is best to work with an attorney during this process.

TN Visa

The United States created the TN visa based upon the NAFTA Treaty signed in 1993 between Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The TN visa was specifically created for citizens of Mexico and Canada coming into the United States to work. The visa is an excellent way to get to work in the U.S. since it only requires a small amount of paperwork and offers a lot of flexibility in how you can get approved for this visa.

Before applying for a TN visa, you should first meet a few basic requirements. They are as follows:

● Citizen of Canada or Mexico;

● Individual must be a professional with specific education;

● The position in the United States must normally require a professional; and

● Must have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer.

Many clients contact us to ask about Management Analyst positions for a TN visa application. Management analyst is classed as a Schedule 2 professional, and as such, it does qualify for TN visa status, regardless of whether the position is temporary, fixed, part-time, or periodic.

Management analysts are responsible for helping businesses and organizations improve their overall performance across multiple departments and specialties. They usually do so by analyzing the organization’s current model and strategies, and then creating plans for how the organization can improve its administration, long-term goals, procedures, and guidelines. Due to the short-term nature of this work, management analysts are not usually hired as permanent employees.

Applicants seeking a Management Analyst TN visa must possess either a Bachelor’s or Licenciatura degree, or professional experience relevant to the field.

Be warned, though, that applicants applying for a TN visa will be highly scrutinized and that the qualification process has some extremely specific evidentiary requirements. We advise, at a minimum, the following evidence:

1. A detailed description of anticipated business activities or job responsibilities;

2. Anticipated length of stay in the United States;

3. Hard copies of your educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;

4. Arrangements for wages/salary.

You may also be asked to provide professional evaluations documenting a minimum of five years of work experience in the management analysis industry. If your experience is not directly within management analysis, Consulates and Embassies may also consider five years of work experience in a field related to whatever the applicable consulting agreement is.

When applying for a management analyst TN visa, you will be expected to work as an independent contractor. You may, and should, become an employee of a consulting firm under a specified contract. This position does not have to exist as a permanent position, nor does it have to be a position replacing or filling someone else’s role.

Before applying, understand that the application process will differ depending on your nationality. Please follow the instructions below, based on your home country.


● Canadian citizens may apply for a TN visa at a border crossing;

● Canadian citizens must present a letter of invitation to a job based in the United States;

● The job to which you are invited must be recognized under the 1993 NAFTA agreement;

● Canadian citizens may present copies of their qualifications, licensing, and degrees;

● You must show proof of Canadian citizenship

● Canadian citizens may extend their visa at the border or have their employer file a petition with the USCIS


● Mexican citizens may not apply for a TN visa at a border crossing;

● Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy;

● Mexican citizens must present a letter of invitation to a job based in the United States;

● The job to which you are invited must be recognized under the 1993 NAFTA agreement

● Mexican citizens may present copies of their qualifications, licensing, and degrees

● You must show proof of Mexican citizenship

● If approved for a TN visa, you must then apply for admission at a port of entry into the United States.

● If applying for an extension, Mexican citizens must have their employer submit a petition with the USCIS

Regardless of citizenship, if you are approved for a TN visa, you can live and work in the United States for a period of three years at a time. After those three years are up, you may extend your visa for another three years. There is no limit to the number of times you can extend a TN visa, but you must be able to show reasonable cause and intent to leave the United States at some time in the future.

If you wish to bring your spouse and children to the United States, they will be allowed to enter, but they will have TD status, rather than TN status. TD status does not grant them the authority to work in the United States.

Before applying for a TN visa, understand that there is no lottery system in place for granting these visas. TN visas are one of the most widely applied for visas in the United States, as there is arguably no limit to the number of years you can spend working on a TN visa.

We have had success with securing TN visas for Engineering Tech positions but be warned it is not as easy as a normal TN. We are able to win our clients access to TN visas because we are very specific about what you need to qualify for this type of case. If you believe that you are eligible for a TN visa as an engineering tech, we can help you build your case and prepare the exact documentation needed to submit a successful application. For more information on how we can help you get approved for a TN visa for Engineer Tech, please do not be shy about reaching out to us. We are experienced and skilled at helping professional workers meet the qualifications to work in the United States.

O1 Visa

An O-1 visa will be granted to those with some type of extraordinary ability or who have made an extraordinary achievement. The visa can be issued for a temporary stay or to work temporarily in the United States. The extraordinary ability O-1A visa can be in arts, athletics, business, education, or the sciences. The O-1B visa applies to extraordinary achievement. This would include those who have made achievements in TV and film, and who have received international recognition for their work.

Qualifications for the O-1A Visa

There are several ways for someone to qualify for an O-1A visa. The individual could have been the recipient of a major award, such as a Nobel Prize. Otherwise, they will need to meet at least three of the requirements that follow:

● Needs to be a member of an association in their field where membership requires outstanding achievements and has been judged by known national or international experts in that field

● Needs to have made major contributions of business, scholarly, or scientific nature in their field

● Needs to have had material published about their contributions to the field in a major trade publication, newspaper, professional, or large media outlet

● Receive nationally or internationally recognized prizes/award for excellence in their field

● Needs to show evidence that they have and can command a high salary for their services in their field

● Needs to have authored scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media outlets in their field

● Needs to have judged the work of others in their field as part of a panel or individually

● Needs to have maintained employment as a critical or essential employee for businesses or organizations that have a renowned reputation

In some cases, other evidence that is similar to the items mentioned above can be used.

Qualifications for the O-1B Visa

To qualify for the O-1B visa, the requirements are similar. They will need to have been nominated for or have received a national or international prize known in their field. For example, this could be a Grammy, an Emmy, or an Oscar. If they do not have this type of award, they will need to meet at least three of the following requirements.

● They need to have performed or will perform as a lead in an event or production that has a good reputation – evidence could include publications, contracts, endorsements, critical reviews, publicity releases, and ads

● They need to have national or international recognition for their achievements as evidenced by published materials, critical reviews, etc. about them or by them that have appeared in newspapers, magazines, trade journals, and similar publications

● They need to have performed or will perform in a critical role or starring role for organizations that have a solid reputation as evinced through publications, trade journals, newspapers, and similar types of publications

● They need to show that they have a record of success, either commercial or critical, as evidenced by rating, title, recognition in the field, ratings for TV or movies, box office receipts, and similar achievements that have been reported in publications, trade journals, newspapers, and similar publications

● They could also use evidence of recognition for their achievements with testimonials from other experts in their field, critics, organizations, or government agencies – the testimonials need to indicate the writer’s knowledge, authority, and expertise of the applicant’s achievements

● They need to show that they command a high salary for the services they provide via contracts or similar evidence

Again, documentation and evidence that is similar to the above can be offered as well.

Regardless of whether someone is coming to the United States with an O-1A or an O-1B visa, they need to be coming to the country to continue work in their field.

Applying for the O-Visa

The petitioner for the visa will need to first file Form I-129 with the USCIS, which is a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker at least 45 days before the date the beneficiary is to start work in the United States. They cannot file more than a year ahead of time.

Also, the petition will need to include a written advisory opinion from a labor organization or peer group that states they do not have any objection to the applicant being employed for the work. If there is not a group that can sign this opinion, the officials will use the other evidence that has been provided to make their decision.

They will also need to provide a contract or other evidence that shows the terms of the agreement between the petitioner and the individual who will be coming to the U.S. to work. They also need to have an itinerary that explains what the foreign national will be doing and working on and how long they will be working.

How Long Can a Person Stay?

Those who receive an O-visa can stay in the United States for a maximum of three years initially. It is then possible to require extensions that are a year-long each. A new I-129 will need to be filed for each extension.

What About Family and the O-Visa?

The spouses and children of someone who has an O-visa can come with the holder on an O-3 visa. Children applying for an O-3 visa must be unmarried and under the age of 21. Those who have an O-3 visa can study in the United States, but they are not allowed to work. If spouses and children wish to travel outside the U.S. for tourism or to visit family overseas, they are permitted to leave as many times as they wish and can reenter the United States without having to file for any adjustments or renewals. An O-3 visa functions as a multiple entry visa for the duration of its validity.