Business Immigration Attorney for Employment-Based Immigrant & Non-Immigrant Business Visas – Serving Bellevue, Kirkland, Seattle, and the World

As a business immigration lawyer with 30 years of experience, Barbara Marcouiller delivers comprehensive legal services for business immigration matters, including employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant visas. We understand the intricacies of business immigration law and are committed to providing strategic and pragmatic legal solutions to fulfill your organization’s needs.

We are dedicated to guiding you through every step of the process, from selecting the right status to successful application and extensions.  Maximize your professional and business success.

What is Business Immigration?

Business immigration refers to the legal process whereby individuals can obtain temporary or permanent residency in the U.S. through qualifying employment. It is a critical avenue for professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs contributing to the U.S. economy. The right to work in the US is secured through either an employment-based immigrant visa (which provides individuals with the ability to live and work in the US indefinitely, and pursue citizenship), or a non-immigrant work visa (which provides an individual with a temporary right to live and work in the US).  All such work visas have different requirements, which makes it critical to speak with an experienced business visa lawyer.

What Non-Immigrant Business Visas are Available?

Barbara Marcouiller offers expertise in non-immigrant business visas, including:

  • H-1B Visa. For specialty occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise.
  • L-1 Visa. For intracompany transferees in managerial or executive roles.
  • E-2 Visa. For investors who will actively manage a U.S. enterprise.
  • E-3 Visa. For specialty occupation workers from Australia.
  • O Visa. For individuals with extraordinary ability in business, sciences, the arts, or athletics.
  • R-1 Visa. For religious workers.
  • TN Visa. For Canadian and Mexican professionals under the U.S. Mexico Canada trade agreement (USMCA).
  • H2B Visa. For seasonal workers.
  • B1/2 Visa. For visitors for business or pleasure.

The application process is unique to each visa type. It may involve labor certification, employer petitions, and personal qualifications. Assessing the detailed job duties and the prospective employee’s credentials is critical. Marcouiller PLLC streamlines this process, providing dedicated guidance from initial assessment to petition filing.

Do Non-Immigrant Business Visas Allow Immediate Family Members as well?

Yes, most business visas do allow the inclusion of spouse and unmarried minor children under 21 years old.

The specific rules and conditions for family member inclusion can vary depending on the type of business visa. For instance, under H-1B and L-1 visas, immediate family members are often eligible to apply for dependent visas (like the H-4 and L-2 visas, respectively), which allow them to live in the United States with the primary visa holder. However, the eligibility to work or study can vary based on the type of dependent visa they hold.

For an L-2 or H-4, the ability for dependents to work is limited to the spouse and should be authorized based on the L-2S designation on the I-94 entry document.  For L-2 spouses who arrived prior to the change in this rule, they may apply for employment authorization if their I-94 is still valid.  Others, such as an E-2 spouse do not receive a separate designation, but they may apply for employment authorization.  As a business immigration law firm, we invite you to contact us to determine the employment eligibility of your dependents.

What Is The Difference Between Employment-Based Immigrant And Non-Immigrant Business Visas?

The key difference between employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant business visas lies in the intended duration and purpose of stay in the U.S.:

  • Employment-Based Immigration. These categories are for individuals seeking to live and work indefinitely in the U.S. It is lawful permanent residency (a Green Card). Employment-based immigration is divided into preference categories (EB-1, EB-2, etc.), each with specific eligibility criteria.

Learn More About Employment-Based Immigration

  • Non-Immigrant Business Visas. These visas are for temporary stays in the U.S. They include visas like H-1B, L-1, TN, and E-2, and are designed for specific business purposes such as employment in a specialty occupation, intra-company transfers, or investment. Unlike employment-based immigration, they do not directly result in permanent residency.  Depending on the type of visa, however, it may be renewable for many years, so long as the terms of the visa are not violated.  We’ve had clients on an E-2 visa, for example, for 20 years.  It depends on the type of visa, so it’s very important to work with our experience.

Learn More About Non-Immigrant (Temporary) Work Visas

Do I Need to Make an Investment in the U.S. to Obtain a Business Immigration Visa?

Whether you need to make an investment in the U.S. to obtain a business-based immigration visa depends on the type of visa you are applying for.  Certain types of business visas, such as the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, are based on an investment.  The E-2 requires a substantial investment in a U.S. business, either in an existing business that the E-2 applicant is buying or in a new business venture the E-2 applicant is opening.   However, most other types of business visas, such as the H-1B (specialty occupations), L-1 (intra-company transfers), and O-1 (individuals with extraordinary ability), an investment is not required.  An L-1 can be issued for a new business being opened in the U.S. as a parent/subsidiary/branch/affiliate of the foreign company, in which case it does require proof of the opening of the U.S. company and proof that the company is likely to be successful, even though it is not technically an investor visa.

Each visa category has its own unique criteria and requirements. As an experienced Bellevue business immigration lawyer and business visa attorney, Barbara Marcouiller can listen to the facts of your case and explain whether you may be required to invest in a United States enterprise to fulfill your particular business immigration requirements.

How Often Do I Need to Renew a Non-Immigrant Business Visa?

The frequency of renewing a non-immigrant business visa varies depending on the type of visa. For example, the following is a concise summary of some of the most common visa renewal timelines, it is not exhaustive.  Always confer with us regarding your own situation:

  • H-1B Visa. An H-1B visa is typically valid for up to three years, it can be renewed once for a total stay of six years. Under certain circumstances an H-1B can continue to be renewed in either 1 or 2 year increments beyond the initial 6 years
  • L-1 Visa. For L-1A, up to seven years; for L-1B, up to five years. This one is a limit, so you may want to look into a longer term strategy very soon after receiving the L-1. For example, someone with an L-1A may qualify for permanent residence as a multi-national executive or manager (EB-1C category). Depending on the country of origin, you may be subject to a long “waiting line” for permanent residence, and so will want to try to move later into an H-1B.  This type of long-term strategizing is very important in immigration, and it is critical you speak with a truly experienced attorney who is dedicated 100% to immigration matters.
  • TN Visa. A TN is valid for different lengths of time depending on whether it’s Canadian or Mexican, and depending on whether the applicant from Mexico takes advantage of a new change to pay a higher fee for a four-year visa.  Of course, all of these visas also depend on the interest and intent of the U.S. employer who is hiring a foreign national.  A TN may be good for three years, but perhaps the employer is only supporting it for one year.
  • E-2 Visa. Usually issued for two years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business is operating and the conditions of the visa are met.
  • O-1 Visa. Initially granted for up to three years, with extensions available in one-year increments as long as the underlying conditions for the visa remain valid.

Each visa type has specific rules and conditions for renewal, and it’s important to comply with these requirements to maintain legal status.

IMPORTANT: Be careful; the petition approval by USCIS, the validity period of the visa issued by the Department of State, and the period of authorized stay issued by CBP upon entry may not be the same, make sure to check and work with an experienced immigration lawyer to understand the difference and which one controls.  If the entry document, called an I-94, issued electronically by CBP, is not correct, it must be corrected.  Upon entry, always go to the CBP site, click on “get most recent I-94” and check it.

Are Non-Immigrant Business Visas Associated With a Specific Employer?

Typically, yes. Many types of non-immigrant business status are tied to a specific employer. For instance, the H-1B visa for specialty occupations is both employer and job-specific, meaning that it is granted based on a petition filed by a particular employer for a specific position. Similarly, L-1 visas for intra-company transferees are tied to the employer who transfers the employee to their U.S. company.   A TN does not require a U.S. employer to petition, and yet it does require a U.S. employer support letter and job description, so even then the answer would be not technically but really, yes.

If an individual on such a visa changes jobs, the new employer must typically file a new petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are specific procedures and requirements for transferring or changing employment under these visa categories. If you are contemplating an occupation change, we encourage you to complete the contact form or email us to learn how such a shift may impact your immigration status.

Barbara Marcouiller is an immigration attorney with Davidson Kilpatric & Krislock PLLC, an established law firm for over 90 years.  Barbara also maintains her strategic partnership with PRK Livengood PLLC  for their clients’ immigration and I-9 needs.