Let’s face it. There are simply not enough U.S. work visa options for Israeli professionals.

While the legal infrastructure is in place, the E-2 investor visa is still not “ripe” for Israel, and is pending final issuance of reciprocal regulations and implementation. To add insult to injury, the FY2015 quota for H-1B specialty workers was exhausted within less than one week. The remaining nonimmigrant work visa categories available to Israeli nationals (ex: L, E, O) have stringent eligibility requirements that may be difficult, if not impossible, to meet.

So where does this leave us? Waiting around with a bunch of lemons…

The B-1 in Lieu of H-1B Visa for Temporary Assignments in the U.S.

I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting. I’m an Aries, and that is simply not in my nature. Likewise, in business, we cannot just sit back and file our nails while the government finalizes legislation to create new visa categories. When your company scores a multimillion dollar project with a U.S. customer or partner, the only concern is getting your people on-site on an immediate basis. You need a solution NOW.

As the old proverb goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. I am here to help you make lemonade, in the form of a special visa for certain temporary business visitors – the B-1 in Lieu of H-1B visa. For lack of a better abbreviation, I shall refer to it fondly hereafter as “BILO”.

BILO Ingredients

As with any recipe, you’ll need the right ingredients. You already have the choice fruit – your super star employee. Now it’s time to check your pantry for the rest.

  • Foreign company, located outside of the United States.
  • Short term project in the United States (can be accomplished within 6 months or less).
  • H-1B caliber work. The tasks to be performed within the scope of the project can only be performed by an individual with an academic degree.
  • Foreign professional. An individual that holds the relevant academic degree or equivalent work experience.
  • Foreign payroll. The individual required for the project is formally employed by the foreign company and will remain on its payroll for the duration of the temporary assignment in the United States.

Read more about BILO here: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov/types_of_visas/temporary-employment-holp/b1-in-lieu-of-h2.html

Mixing Instructions

  1. Schedule a B-1 visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy.
  2. Prepare documentary evidence demonstrating that the individual meets BILO requirements.
  3. Attend appointment at U.S. Embassy. If the visa is approved, proceed to steps 4 and 5.
  4. Receive passport with B-1 visa and BILO annotation a few days after the visa appointment.
  5. Book your flight to SFO!

Prep time: Several weeks, depending on local U.S. Embassy visa wait times.

Bitter Lemons

While BILO may sound like the answer to every Israeli employer’s prayers, it is not without limitations. BILO is not appropriate for long term assignments exceeding 6 months, and should in no way be viewed as a “quick fix” for the relocation of employees. Moreover, due to the inherently temporary nature of this visa classification, BILO provides no derivative status for family members. Finally, like any B visa applicant, individuals must present evidence of compelling ties to their home country in order to overcome the presumption of “immigrant intent”.

Stir well and enjoy!