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Important things you should know about visitor’s visas

There are many reasons why a person might come to the United States. The reason for a visit determines what type of visa a person needs to secure before their arrival. These visas each limit what a visa holder can do stateside while they’re here.

Trying to do things that are outside of the scope of a visa can lead to a person being removed from the U.S. and possibly refused entry for a preset period of time. For those who are here on a visitor’s visa, understanding the restrictions that apply to them is, therefore, important.

Visitors can’t work while in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa

Visitor visas are strictly intended for business or pleasure travel within the United States. The B-1 visa allows for participation in business activities of a commercial or professional nature, including consultations, attending conferences or negotiating contracts, but it doesn’t permit the visa holder to engage in any form of employment in the U.S.

Similarly, the B-2 visa, often referred to as a tourist visa, is intended for recreational visits and also prohibits any employment. Engaging in work on either of these visas can result in visa revocation and possible denial of entry in the future.

Obtaining a temporary nonimmigrant worker visa

Obtaining a temporary nonimmigrant worker visa is necessary for individuals seeking to work in the U.S. These visas, such as the H-1B for specialty occupations, L-1 for intracompany transfers or O visas for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement, allow their holders to be employed in the U.S legally.

Each category has specific requirements and conditions, such as the employer filing a petition on the worker’s behalf. These visas are limited in duration and are usually tied to the specific employer and position for which they were granted.

Getting a green card

Obtaining a green card, or permanent residency, is another route that allows for lawful employment in the U.S. without the restrictions of a nonimmigrant visa. Green cards can be obtained through various paths including family sponsorship, employment or refugee or asylee status.

For those specifically seeking employment-based permanent residency, it usually involves a multi-step process including labor certification (PERM) and the employer’s petition (Form I-140). Permanent residents are free to work at any legal work of their qualification and choosing, similar to a U.S. citizen.

Employment-based immigrant visas

Employment-based immigrant visas are designated for qualified individuals who wish to live permanently in the U.S. based on their job skills. These visas are divided into five preference categories, EB-1 to EB-5, each with its criteria and annual caps. Processing times and specific requirements vary by category, but generally, an employer must sponsor the applicant and, in most categories, prove that there are no suitable American candidates for the job.

Immigration laws and guidelines change frequently. Anyone who’s planning on coming to the U.S. should ensure they have legal guidance about these matters. Those who are accused of misusing their visa should seek legal assistance to address the situation, given all that is at stake.

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