Anyone who comes to the United States to work must have a visa or green card. Tourist visas do not allow the holder to work or conduct business in the U.S., so it is important to consult with an immigration lawyer before your work begins. There are many ways to accomplish employment-based immigration. Learn more about the different options available for getting a lawful employment immigration status below.
If you will only be in the United States for a short time, a short-term business visitor visa (B1) may be right for you. These visas are very limited in duration. A business visitor visa is usually valid for a few short weeks, so it is helpful if you only intend to be in the U.S. to attend a conference, complete a specific business deal, or complete other discrete tasks. These visas are easier to obtain than work visas that are valid for longer stays. Currently, there is no annual cap on the number of B1 visas that may be issued.
Many workers need to be in the United States for a longer period of time. There are many work visas that can achieve this goal. Different work visas allow stays of a year, or three, or even five. The length of stay depends on the specific work visa you hold.
Some work visas are more difficult to obtain than others. The annual quota and amount of demand will determine how long you must wait to get your work visa. In some cases, you might be eligible for more than one visa type, so it can be helpful to choose the visa with the shortest waiting period. Our Chicago immigration attorneys can help you find the best visa for your unique situation.
If you intend to work in the United States indefinitely, the most permanent option is a green card. A green card is officially known as “a lawful permanent residence.” Permanent residents may live and work in the United States indefinitely, so long as they remain eligible to stay (for example, by not committing violent crimes) and renew the green card when required. Having a green card is also the first step on the path to citizenship.
So why doesn’t everyone get a green card to work in the United States? Unfortunately, there are some real barriers to becoming a permanent resident. The first is the annual quota. Congress limits the number of green cards that can be issued in a calendar year, and the demand has long outpaced the supply. This has created lengthy waiting lists. It could take years before a green card is even available to you.
The second barrier to an employment-based green card is sponsorship. If you do not have a family sponsor, your green card can be sponsored by an employer. It can be difficult to find an employer who is willing and able to serve this function. It takes a lot of time and money to file the appropriate documents with Citizenship and Immigration Services, and some smaller employers may not have the resources to act as immigration sponsors, or may just be intimidated by the process. Large companies and universities are more likely to be able to act as a sponsor – especially if they have sponsored employees before and are familiar with the process.
The experienced employment immigration attorneys at Kriezelman Burton & Associates are here to answer all your questions. Call (312) 332-2550 or visit our website to schedule your consultation.
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