The U.S. immigration system is divided into three basic categories: (1) nonimmigrant, or temporary visas; (2)immigrant visas, or “green cards”; and (3) U.S. citizenship. When first considering a temporaryor permanent move to the U.S., one must first assess the temporary visa categories that could be appropriate for the trip to the U.S. There are dozens of temporary visa categories to consider, and each category has its own intended purpose and eligibility criteria. Some visa categories are only available for nationals of certain countries. Spanish nationals looking to move to the U.S. for employment will most often consider the following visa categories:  

H-1B Category for Specialty Occupations

General

The H-1B nonimmigrant classification is used by companies and other organizations to temporarily employ foreign nationals who will work in “specialty occupations.”  

Requirements

The following requirements must be met in order to obtain H-1B status:  

  • The offered position must be a specialty occupation, an occupation which requires a candidate to possess a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent.  
  • The employer must attest it will pay the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher, for that position in the area of employment.  
  • By completing a number of requirements set forth by the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the employer must attest that it has not displaced a U.S. worker.
  • The foreign national must possess a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent and possess all required licenses, registrations, or certification required for and relevant to the position.  

Visa Processing

In order to obtain H-1B classification, the prospective employer must meet all of the Department of Labor’s requirements, and then file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Once the petition has been approved, the foreign national may begin work after he/she obtains a visa from a consulate abroad, or, in certain circumstances, immediately upon approval of the petition. Due to the amount of time it can take to obtain the H-1B visa, it is important for an employer to begin the process as soon as possible.  

Visa Validity

The H-1B visa may be valid from 12 to 60 months, depending on the foreign national’s home country’s reciprocity schedule. Spanish nationals may receive an H-1B visa for up to 60 months. The underlying petition is usually granted initially for a period of three years. After the initial validity period, the petition is usually extended for three additional years. The H-1B visa and status may only be valid for a maximum period of six years and then the foreign national must reside abroad for one year before applying for new H-1B classification. In specific circumstances, a foreign national may extend his/her H-1B status beyond the six-year maximum. Special Aspects

The H-1B visa offers many employers the opportunity to employ essential foreign 2 national personnel. The H-1B visa recognizes dual intent, or simply put, relieves the foreign national of proving that he/she intends on remaining in the U.S. for only temporary periods of time. Unlike some visa categories, the H-1B visa category subject to an annual numerical cap. Once the number of visas allocated for each fiscal year has been reached, no more visas may be issued until the new fiscal year, or until more visas become available.  

L-1 Category for Intracompany Transferees

General

The L-1 nonimmigrant visa was designed for the transfer of intracompany managers, executives, and specialized knowledge personnel from foreign entities to related U.S. entities.  

Requirements

The following requirements must be met in order to obtain the L-1 visa:  

  • The U.S. company must have a relationship with the foreignentity from which the foreign national is transferred.
  • The business relationship between the business entities may be either parent/ subsidiary, a branch relationship, or the businesses may be affiliates.
  • The foreign national must have been employed in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity for one year abroad for an entity related to the prospective U.S. employer.
  • The foreign national must be transferred to work in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity for a U.S. entity related to a foreign entity or for a foreign entity that does business in the U.S.
  • Managerial or executive employees are eligible for L-1A classification. Specialized knowledge employees are eligible for L-1B classification.
  • The managerial position may include the management of a function, not merely the management of subordinate personnel.  

Visa Processing

In order to obtain L-1 classification, the prospective employer must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Once the petition has been approved, the alien beneficiary may begin work after he/she obtains a visa from a consulate abroad, or, in certain circumstances, immediately upon approval of the petition.  

Visa Validity

The L-1 visa may be valid from 12 to 60 months, dependent upon the alien’s home country’s reciprocity schedule. Spanish nationals can receive L-1 visas valid for up to 60 months. The underlying visa petition is usually granted initially for a period of three years. For U.S. offices that have been in business for less than one year, the initial L-1 validity period will be a maximum of one year. After the initial validity period, the petition is usually extended in increments of two years. The L-1 visa and status may only be valid for a maximum period of seven years for L-1As and five years for L-1Bs and then the beneficiary must reside abroad for one year before applying for new L or H classification. Special Aspects

The L-1 visa recognizes dual intent, or simply put, relieves the foreign national of proving 3 that he/she intends on remaining in the U.S. for only temporary periods of time. The individual may intend on remaining in the U.S. permanently and pursue permanent residence without violating the terms of his/her visa. Additionally, the L-1 visa category has a corresponding immigrant, or permanent, visa category. The immigrant category available to L-1 intracompany transferees allows the foreign national to apply for permanent residence without first waiting for his/her employer to obtain a Labor Certification. This benefit saves both time and money for the employer and the employee, and is, perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the L-1 visa.  

E-2 Category for Investors and Essential Employees

General

The E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant visa is for use by foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to oversee or work in an enterprise that represents a major investment made by a foreign national or by a 50percent foreign owned company to hire specially skilled, essential employees who possess the same nationality as at least 50percentof the company.  

Requirements

The following requirements must be met in order to obtain the E-2 treaty investor visa:  

  • A treaty must exist between the U.S. and the country of nationality of the alien. Spanishnationals are eligible to use the E-2 category.
  • The company in which the investment is made and the alien must have the same nationality as the treaty country.
  • The investor must actively invest a substantial sum of capital into a real and operating business enterprise which can produce more revenue than merely enough to provide for the investor and his/her immediate family.
  • The treaty investor must fill a key role with the company, either as the person who has developed and directed the trade between the two countries, as a qualified manager, or a specially trained and highly qualified employee necessary for the development of the entity.  

Visa Processing

In order to obtain the E-2 visa, an individual may visit a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad, most often in the country of his/her nationality. The alien must demonstrate that he/she meets all of the requirements for the E-2 visa. An individual may choose to submit a petition requesting this status first to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S. and await approval before applying at a consulate abroad. However, most choose to forego applying for USCIS prior approval and go directly to the consulate to apply for the visa.  

Visa Validity

The E-2 visa may be valid from one to 60 months, dependent upon the beneficiary’s home country’s reciprocity schedule. Spanish nationals can receive E-2 visas valid for up to 60 months. An individual may travel to and from the U.S. throughout the validity of the visa. The visa may be renewed indefinitely.  

Special Aspects

The E-2 visa is unique because it allows an individual to remain in the U.S. indefinitely, for as long as he/she meets the requirements for the visa. In addition, this visa category recognizes dual intent, or simply put, relieves the foreign national of proving that he/she intends on remaining in the U.S. for only temporary periods of time. The individual may intend on remaining in the U.S. permanently and pursue permanent residence without violating the terms of his/her visa.