By Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme
Andrew Greenfield, a Fragomen partner, has made a remarkable presentation about the current administration’s restrictive immigration policies to foreigners and companies in the U.S. looking to recruit highly skilled foreign labor to work in various job positions.
Speaking at the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit, Andrew revealed that there have been a tight scrutinization on visa applications and work permits including companies seeking to expand into the U.S. market.
Andrew also provided an insight on the L-1 visa and the E visa options commonly used by companies to employ foreign nationals in the United States.
According to him, the L-1 visa allows companies to transfer non-U.S.-based employees to a new or existing affiliated legal entity in the United States.
“To qualify, the employee must have worked abroad for a foreign-affiliated company for at least one year prior to transfer.
“In addition, the selected individual must be coming to the United States to work for the U.S. entity either in an executive or managerial role, or in a role where the employee will apply his or her specialized or advanced knowledge of the company’s products or services.
“Executive and managerial employees are permitted to work in the United States with an L-1 visa for up to seven years, and non-managerial employees may work in the United States for up to five years. L-1 transferees may be of any nationality and there is no annual quota.”
Speaking on the E visa option, Andrew said: “The E visa is a treaty-based visa. The United States has “treaties of commerce and navigation” with more than 80 countries around the world. These treaties allow nationals of those countries to invest in U.S. businesses and use the E visa to employ themselves and other nationals of the same country in managerial roles or where the employee has key skills needed by the U.S. business.
“The U.S. business must be at least 50% owned by citizens of the treaty country. Unlike the L visa, there is no requirement that the sponsored employee have worked for the company abroad for any period of time; i.e., they can be new hires.
“However, only citizens of the treaty country are eligible for E visas where, as state above, L visas are not limited by nationality. There is no quota for E visas and it may be extended indefinitely, provided the business continues to be at least 50% owned by citizens of the treaty country and the employee will continue to serve in a managerial or key-sills role.
“Since E visas, and the treaties that facilitate them, are meant to foster foreign investment in the United States, the U.S. government is unlikely to continue renewing E visas for employees of a given company unless the company is able to show business growth and the capacity to employ local workers rather than simply being used a vehicle to transfer owner-investors and their families to the United States.
Both L and E visas are considered temporary visas in that they permit employment only for the sponsoring entity and only for certain periods of time, even though both visa types permit renewals, including indefinite renewals for the E visa,” as state above.
“If foreign nationals wish to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely and have the ability to work for any employer, they would need to pursue U.S. residency (a “green card”), which may be available depending on a variety of factors including the availability of qualified U.S. workers and the particular qualifications of the individual seeking residency,” Andrew added.