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Do you want to employ a worker from another country temporarily?

One thing that nearly every business searches for is educated or skilled workers to fill positions in the company. Sometimes, finding a U.S. citizen who can do a particular job just isn't possible. In those cases, you might look outside the United States for qualified applicants.

If you find one or more individuals who fit that bill, you can't simply bring them into the country. You must obtain temporary work visas for them. A number of temporary work visas for nonimmigrants exist, and choosing the right one could present you with a challenge. Furthermore, the application process might seem simple enough, but several issues need addressing before beginning it.

The application process

Those who work in the country only temporarily fall into the category of nonimmigrants. This requires the filing of a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). As part of that application, you must show that the prospective worker possesses the appropriate qualifications for the position he or she will potentially fill. Some cases require additional documentation prior to the filing of the petition.

If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the petition, the worker must then do one of the following:

  • Apply for admission to the United States
  • Apply for a change in nonimmigrant status

If USCIS approves the worker's petition, then he or she may begin working or training.

Types of temporary work visas

When choosing what type of temporary visa best fits you and your potential employee's situation, consider the following most commonly used visas:

  • E-1 through E-3: These visas are for treaty traders, treaty investors and specialty occupation workers from Australia, along with their spouses.
  • H-1B: This visa is for the following:
    • Workers with highly specialized knowledge
    • Distinguished fashion models
    • Those working on Department of Defense research and development projects and co-projects
  • H-1B1: Singapore and Chile nationals in specialty occupations
  • H-2A: Temporary agricultural workers
  • H-2B: Temporary skilled or unskilled laborers or service providers
  • H-3: Special education exchange visitors or trainees
  • I: Information media representatives
  • J-1: Certain exchange visitors
  • L-1A and L-1B: Intra-company transfers of executives and managers or employees with specific knowledge
  • O-1 and O-2: Those with extraordinary abilities in the following disciplines and their essential support staff:
    • Arts
    • Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Athletics
  • P-1 through P-4: The following persons and their essential support staff:
    • Athletes (or an athletic team) recognized internationally
    • Entertainment group members
    • Certain other artists or entertainers
    • Artists or entertainers entering under a reciprocal exchange program
    • Performers, teachers or coaches of a unique cultural program
  • Q-1: International cultural exchange visitors
  • R-1: Religious workers
  • TN: Mexican and Canadian professionals covered by NAFTA

Each visa allows a potential foreign worker to remain in the country for a certain period. If you discover that the amount of time will not allow for the completion of the work, you may submit another petition on behalf of the employee, but you should file it in enough time for USCIS to approve it. You may ask for an expedited response, but that might not help if you wait too long. Otherwise, employment might be interrupted while the paperwork gets processed.

Other laws, rules and regulations apply to employing a foreign national on a temporary basis. In addition, as the employer, you must comply with certain requirements relating to your worker. Some visas allow a worker to apply for permanent residency here in the United States at some point. These and other issues need consideration prior to extending an offer of employment and submitting the initial petition.

The best way to help ensure that you get the workers you need might be to enlist the advice, assistance and guidance of a Kentucky immigration attorney. He or she can provide you with an understanding of the process, help you choose the correct visa category and guide you through the process.

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