A B visa refers to a category of nonimmigrant visas for temporary visitors to the United States.

There are two main types of B visas: B-1 and B-2.

B-1 Visas: Business Visitor

B-2 Visa: Tourist Visitor

  • The B-1 visa is for individuals coming to the U.S. for business purposes. This may include attending business meetings, conferences, negotiations, or engaging in other legitimate business activities. B-1 visa holders are not allowed to work in the U.S. for a U.S. employer, receive a salary from a U.S. source, or engage in activities that would constitute local employment.

  • The B-2 visa is for individuals coming to the U.S. for tourism, pleasure, or visiting friends and family. This category is also used for medical treatment or participation in social events. B-2 visa holders are not allowed to work or study in the U.S.

    It’s worth noting that sometimes individuals may be issued a B-1/B-2 visa, which allows for a combination of business and tourist activities during a single trip. The specific activities permitted on a B visa are generally limited to those consistent with the category of the visa.

    Key points about B visas:

    • Temporary Stay: B visas are for temporary stays in the U.S., and they do not grant permanent residency.
    • No Employment: B visa holders are generally not allowed to work in the U.S. for a U.S. employer.
    • Duration: The duration of stay on a B visa is typically determined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry, but it’s usually limited to a few months.
    • Extension: In some cases, it’s possible to apply for an extension of stay, but the total duration of stay is limited.

    Individuals interested in obtaining a B visa should apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. The application process requires submitting the required documentation, including proof of the purpose of the visit and ties to the home country.

E-1 Treaty Trader

An E-1 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa in the United States for treaty traders and employees.

Key points to know about E-1 Visas

Key points to know about Employees and E-1 Visas

  • The key things to know about E-1 visas are:

    • They are meant for citizens of countries that have a treaty of trade or commerce with the United States, such as citizens of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, and more. A full list can be found here:
    • They are specifically for people involved in “substantial trade” between the individual’s country and the United States, such as business owners, executives, or employees working in roles essential to international trade or business operations between the two countries.
    • The trade or activity enabled by the E-1 visa must be sizeable and ongoing with a U.S. trading partner, not a single transaction or occasional activity. There are no minimum dollar value requirements, but the overall volume of trade must indicate continuous trade flows.
    • E-1 status is granted for an initial stay of up to two years, with unlimited renewals possible in two-year increments as long the business/trade activity continues.
    • E-1 visa holders can bring a spouse and children under 21 years of age to the U.S. as their dependents (via E-1 visas for dependents).

    The E-1 facilitates ongoing substantial trade between treaty countries and the U.S. by enabling investors, executives and essential employees to legally live and work in the United States.

  • E-1 Employees: Additionally, E-1 treaty trader visa allows for bringing employees from the treaty country company to the United States. Here are some key points about employees and the E-1 visa:

    • To qualify as an E-1 employee, the person must be of the same nationality as the treaty trader company (i.e. Australian company = Australian employees).
    • The employee must hold an executive, supervisory, or essential skills position at the company. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
    • Essential skills employees are those who possess special qualifications that are essential for the U.S. trade operations and make a significant contribution to the company’s operations.
    • There is no requirement regarding length of employment with the company to qualify as an E-1 employee. Even employees who have recently been hired can come over on an E-1.
    • E-1 employees can stay for up to 2 years at a time, with extensions allowing them to stay as long as the trade operations remain active.
    • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 can accompany the E-1 employee as dependents.

    Key executives, supervisors, or employees with essential, critical skills can be brought to the U.S. on E-1 status to support the trade operations between the treaty countries. It allows expansion of staff for active, substantial trade activities.


E-2 Treaty Investors

An E-2 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa in the United States for treaty investors and employees.

Key Points of E-2 Visas

Key Points of Employees and E-2 Visas

  • An E-2 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa in the United States for treaty investors and employees. Here are some key details:

    • It is intended for citizens of countries that have an investment treaty with the United States, such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and many European countries. A full list can be found here:
    • The person must be traveling to the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital. There is no set minimum, but the investment must be substantial enough to have a real operating enterprise.
    • Like the E-1, the E-2 allows for bringing a spouse and children under 21 years old as dependents.
    • An E-2 is granted for up to five years initially, with unlimited renewals possible as long as the investment/business remains substantial and ongoing.
    • The investor/executive must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. They cannot be coming just as passive investors with no role in directing the business.

    The E-2 visa enables citizens of treaty countries to legally enter the U.S. in order to actively operate a substantial investment enterprise they have capital invested in. It fosters investment and business development between the U.S. and designated treaty nations.

  • E-2 Employees: E-2 treaty investor visa allows for bringing employees from the treaty country to the United States. Here are some key details:

    • Employees must be of the same nationality as the treaty investor (such as a Chinese investor bringing Chinese employees).
    • There are no minimal educational requirements, but employees should be hired to develop/direct the investment enterprise or have special qualifications that are essential for the firm’s U.S. operations.
    • Managers and executives of the investment enterprise would qualify. Specialized skilled workers also qualify. Ordinary skilled/unskilled workers do not.
    • There are no requirements about length of prior employment with the company for E-2 employees. Can bring essential employees over soon after hiring them.
    • E-2 employee status is granted for up to 2 years initially but can be extended indefinitely in 2-year periods as long as the underlying investment is maintained.

    E-2 investors can bring key managerial staff, executives or workers with highly specialized skills essential to the enterprise – enabling them to direct and grow the U.S. investment operations.

E-3 – Australian Citizens Only

The E-3 visa is a special nonimmigrant work visa available only for citizens of Australia to work in the United States.  It was created under a special trade agreement between the U.S. and Australia to facilitate more easily obtainable work visas for each country’s citizens. The E-3 has similar eligibility criteria to the H-1B visa but is only open to citizens of Australia (whereas H-1B is open to any nationality).

  • To qualify for an E-3, the Australian citizen must be employed in a “specialty occupation” – one that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience.
  • E-3 visas allow Australian professionals to work in the U.S. for up to 2 years initially, with indefinite extensions available in 2-year increments.
  • Like the E-1 and E-2 visas, E-3 holders can bring their spouses and children under the age of 21 to the U.S. as dependents.
  • 10,500 E-3 visas are available each fiscal year under the agreement which is rarely, if ever, filled.

In summary, the E-3 provides an expedited, less complex work visa pathway for Australian professionals to have access to each country’s labor market.


The H-1B visa is a common nonimmigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. 

About H-1B

Cap-Exempt H-1B

  • H-1B occupations are defined as those requiring the theoretical and practical application of specialized knowledge like IT, finance, accounting, medicine, engineering, mathematics, etc. and a minimum of bachelor’s degree is generally required. An electronic lottery is held each March to randomly select candidates who can then file full H-1B petitions. If approved, their H-1B employment starts October 1. Those not selected must maintain valid immigration status in the U.S. or depart the country.

    Employers must sponsor the foreign professional’s H-1B visa petition, which is for initial stay up to 3 years, renewable up to 6 years total – this can be extended with an approved green card petition.  H-1B holders can apply for permanent residency (green card) or change to another temporary visa status. Some exceptions exist for eligibility to change status within the U.S. Employers must pay H-1Bs wages comparable to similarly employed workers and agree not to displace U.S. workers.

  • Cap-Exempt H-1B (Employees/Employers that do not have to go through the annual lottery): Certain employers are exempt from the annual 85,000 cap on H-1B visas, offering “cap-exempt jobs.” Such jobs are available at:

    • Accredited non-profit colleges and universities in the U.S.
    • Non-profit organizations affiliated with higher education institutions, like some teaching hospitals or even primary/secondary schools.
    • Non-profit research organizations or U.S. government research institutions advancing knowledge.

    The Department of Labor mandates a $60,000 calendar year minimum wage for cap-exempt H-1Bs, excluding benefits, whether paid hourly or as salary. This is separate from any prevailing wage requirements. Because cap-exempt employers bypass the H-1B visa lottery, applicants’ odds can be higher. However, having cap-exempt status does not guarantee an employer will sponsor every position.

    In summary, universities, non-profit research entities, and related institutions are not constrained by the visa cap system when sponsoring foreign nationals. While beneficial, applicants should confirm if a cap-exempt employer will sponsor their specific role.

L-1A and L-1B

Intercompany Transferee



  • L-1A: The L-1A visa is an intracompany transfer visa that enables multinational companies to temporarily transfer foreign employees in executive or managerial roles to the United States. Here are some key details:

    • For qualifying executives/managers who have worked for the company’s foreign affiliates, divisions, or branches for at least one continuous year within the previous three years.
    • The U.S. role must be in a managerial or executive capacity supervising other employees or managing an essential function.
    • Initial stay is granted for up to 3 years, with 2-year extensions allowing up to 7 years of total L-1A visa status.
    • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years can accompany the L-1A visa holder as dependents.
    • There is no annual quota for L-1A visas, so transfers can happen year-round.

    The L-1A visa facilitates multinational corporations temporarily relocating qualified foreign executives and managers to direct U.S. operations, encourage investment, and transfer specialized proprietary knowledge across global operations.

  • L-1B:  The L-1B visa is an intracompany transfer visa that enables multinational companies to temporarily transfer foreign employees with specialized knowledge to the United States. Here are some key details:

    • For qualifying employees with specialized knowledge about the company’s products, processes, systems, etc. gained through prior employment abroad for the company.
    • Specialized knowledge employees must be coming to the U.S. to contribute their expertise. Ordinary skilled workers do not qualify.
    • Initial stay is granted for up to 3 years, with 2-year extensions allowing up to 5 years of total L-1B status.
    • Like the L-1A, spouses and unmarried children under 21 can come as dependents and there are no annual quotas.
    • The company must demonstrate that the knowledge is specialized and not commonly found in U.S. workers. Proprietary knowledge of the company’s systems is a common basis.

    The L-1B visas enables multinationals to bring in-house expertise into the U.S. operations regarding their global systems, technologies, and operational knowledge in order to support business goals.

O-1 Visa – Extraordinary Ability Visa

The O-1 visa category is divided into two groups: O-1A for the sciences, athletics, and business and O-1B for artists. While the standard of “extraordinary ability” applies to both types of visas, the definition is different for the O-1A and the O-1B visa. The O-1 visa requires a contract with a U.S. employer or agent. You may not self-petition for an O-1. Both visa categories require extensive documentation indicating that the beneficiary’s achievements have been recognized in their field through extensive documentation.

A sample of occupations for O visa includes executives, scientists, physicians [NOTE: insert link here to the O-1A for physicians], artists, actors, musicians, fashion designers, film producers, directors, and other creative and television- or film-oriented occupations.



  • Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics.

    The standard for “extraordinary ability” with the O-1A visa aligns with the EB-1A green card for individuals reaching the very elite tier of their field. Applicants must show either a one-time monumental accomplishment like an Olympic medal or Nobel Prize, or meet at least 3 of these evidentiary criteria:

    • Receipt of lesser nationally and internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by experts in the field;
    • Published materials about the individual in professional or major trade publications, or appearance/published materials about the individual in other major media;
    • Participation, either individually or as part of a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the field (including having served as a reviewer/referee for articles to be published, on discussion and advisory panels, etc.);
    • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, as published in professional or major trade publications or in other major media;
    • Serving in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation; and/or
    • Commanding a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, as compared to others in the field; and/or
    • Comparable evidence where the listed criteria are not readily applicable to the beneficiary’s occupation.

    USCIS has published an Appendix of evidentiary requirements here:

  • O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry. O-1B category of nonimmigrant status and work authorization is divided into two categories, those working as artists (O-1B artist) and motion picture and television industry (O-1B MPTV).

    Applicants of an O-1B must show a one-time major achievement such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Screen Actor’s Guild Award, Tony Award or at least three of the following:

    • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
    • Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about you in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
    • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators of title, rating, or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
    • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which you are engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the alien’s achievements;
    • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
    • Comparable evidence where the listed criteria are not readily applicable to the beneficiary’s occupation (this does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).


    Applicants for the O-1B visa in the motion picture and television industry must prove recognition in those fields meeting rigorous documentation standards. Though the evidentiary thresholds may seem alike across O-1 categories, the precise documentation showing extraordinary achievement in television and film is unique. O-1B candidates must build a case for surpassing accomplishments in this industry using specific evidence like media exposure, box office earnings, awards, publications contracts, high viewership ratings demonstrating critical and/or commercial success. So while reaching the upper echelon is mandatory either way, the detailed proof O-1B applicants furnish directly exhibits extraordinary contributions to motion pictures and/or television productions themselves.

O-2 and O-3

O-2: Individuals who will be accompanying O-1 visa holders to assist them in their work.

It is for individuals with “critical skills and experience” related to an O-1 visa holder’s work. This could include assistants, coaches, lighting/set designers, makeup artists, and more, depending on the O-1’s field.

  • The applicant must show they have skills and experience not of the caliber of the O-1 visa holder, but “critical” to the completion of the O-1’s work.
  • Initial stay is up to 3 years with one-year unlimited extensions, tied to the duration of the O-1 visa holder’s stay.
  • There are no caps on O-2 visas and spouses + children can accompany the visa holder.
  • Consultation from labor organizations attesting to the applicant’s critical skills is usually required.

O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

TN Visa

Canadian and Mexican Citizens Only

TN Visa: The TN visa is a special nonimmigrant visa category that was created through NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to facilitate temporary entry for citizens of Canada and Mexico into the United States for business and professional work purposes. On August 27, 2018, President Donald Trump announced a new trade deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA. The U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement, then changed on September 30, 2018 to include Canada. Now it is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) took effect on July 1, 2020.

  • The professions eligible are strictly defined on the NAFTA list and include accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and more.
  • TN status is granted very quickly (often issued same day at the border if paperwork is complete).
  • It does not require formal visa petition or labor certification.
  • TN is issued for increments up to 3 years initially, indefinitely renewable.
  • Spouses and children can accompany the TN visa holder under a TD visa.

The full list of occupations can be found here: