Visas—what are they? Your first thought might be the credit card in your wallet, or you may think of a document needed by foreign nationals to enter a country. There are many different kinds of visas and each country has its own requirements to obtain visas. They range from students to visitors to temporary workers and more! Our hope is that after reading through this article, the world of immigration might be a tad less confusing.
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Quick note: there's a difference between 'status' and a visa. A visa is a document provided to a foreign national by a consulate abroad that allows them to travel to the U.S. and seek entry in a designated category (e.g. tourist). 'Status' is what the foreign national is granted when they either enter the U.S. from abroad or are approved from within the U.S. (change of status).
Today, we want to hone in on the common visa types in the United States. Populus Group serves many contractors, some of whom are foreign nationals with special skills needed in the marketplace. Whether these consultants are students or otherwise, different visas may be critical for employment.
The H-1B Visa is designed for foreign workers in "Specialty Occupations" and is used often to bring foreign professionals, professors, and researchers to the American workplace. "Specialty Occupation" is defined as an occupation that requires at least a Bachelor's degree in the field of intended employment. If the professional has a Bachelor's degree but the position does not require at least a Bachelor's degree to perform the duties, the occupation will not qualify for the H-1B Visa category. This visa may be held for a maximum of 6 years with an initial grant of up to 3 years.If the consultant being recruited is an H-1B Visa holder and is with an unapproved vendor, please reach out to Populus Group and we can assist you in employing this consultant.
Family members can also come with the candidate! Dependent family members must apply for an H4 Visa at the same time as the candidate applies for an H-1B and are able to attend school, open bank accounts, get a driver’s license, and even get a social security number. Note: an H4 Visa does not provide work authorization.
The TN Visa category is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. The TN Visa category requires that the applicant, be a citizen of Canada or Mexico, enter the U.S. on a temporary basis, and possess the minimum qualifications of one of the professions specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty. The Appendix also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation.
For TN Visa holders, although Populus Group processes TN Visas, please contact your corporate immigration department, as our involvement is not necessary.
Many foreign nationals who attend school in the US are admitted under an F-1 Visa. F-1 students may be permitted to work during school breaks, on campus, and/or part-time during the school year. Certain F-1 students may be able to obtain the use of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT), as well as Optional Practical Training Extensions (OPT-STEM). If a student is authorized for CPT employment, no employment authorization card is required. The SEVIS I-20 will confirm CPT status. If the F-1 student is authorized for OPT employment, the F-1 student must apply for an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) from the USCIS, before working on OPT status.
Consultants may work directly for you on either OPT (with a valid EAD) or CPT status. However, if there is a long-term engagement an H-1B Visa application may become necessary, at which time Populus Group can assist with the application.
OPT STEM Extensions are available to certain consultants who have qualifying degrees. There are new requirements and regulations for the extension process that Populus Group will be able to manage for you.
The L-2 Visa is available to immediate family members (spouses and children under the age of 21) who accompany an L-1 employee to the US. The L-2 Visa is generally granted for the same period as the L-1 Visa holder, and must be extended accordingly. An L-2 spouse (not children) may apply for US employment authorization when he/she arrives in the US, and can work for any employer in any field. Populus Group can only employ an L-2 Visa holder not an L-1 Visa holder.
You make work directly with an L-2 Visa holder. However, if it is a long-term engagement, an H-1B Visa application may become necessary, at which time you would need to contact Populus Group to assist with such.
Populus Group is Here to Help!
Making sure all your ducks are in a row for foreign national employment in the US can be confusing and is constantly changing, but Populus Group is here to help!
For past, present, and potential contractors—we’re here for you.
- Are you a foreign national student looking to start a career in the US?
- Do you have doubts about your current employer’s ability to handle the complex immigration employment landscape?
- Have you had issues getting paid on time?
- Have you had issues getting questions about your visa status answered in a timely manner?
- Has your employer hesitated to start your Green Card process?
If you’ve ever asked yourself the above questions or thought of some of your own, connect with our professionals about how filing works with us!
For employers, we understand the risk and we’re here to help mitigate that risk. Filing can be a hassle, but Populus Group offers services to make filing for these amazing candidates easier for you.
- How large is your current foreign national community?
- How are you currently engaging foreign nationals? How are you currently managing their compliance within your program or with their suppliers?
- What are the top skill sets you use foreign nationals for? How quickly can you find and engage the talent you need
- What kind of impact would it have on your business if you were able to engage a global talent pool?
- What are your diversity goals and how are you meeting them?
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