While we cannot provide legal advice, in our work with international companies seeking to do business in the United States we have developed a lot of knowledge around work visas, and especially how much they have changed in the last ten years.
Visa can present a number of challenges for companies seeking to do business internationally. A large multinational cosmetics brand, for example, can go one of two ways when expanding operations in the US: they can send someone from the home office who understands the company well, or they can hired locally and rely on that individual’s local knowledge in the market. We often advise the latter scenario, depending on the business case, but it’s true that in some circumstances, a company wants to use someone fluent in the company’s culture and operations.
That’s where visas come in. In our experience, we see these three types of visas coming to play most often:
L-1 Visa: Good Choice For Long-Term Employees
We see L-1 visas being used with international companies that have offices in the US and across the world to transfer long-time employees to the US. The catch with this visa is that it is only used with employees that have been at the company at least one year. Since here at ACCUR we are focused on the recruiting of new executive talent, L-1 visa are not applicable to new hires and are therefore usually not that helpful to us in our quest to help European companies place qualified hires in the American market.
E-2 Visa: The Investor Visa
E-2 visa are meant to stimulate foreign investment in the United States and are therefore issued to investors (who can be both individuals or companies) who promise to bring a sizable amount of capital to the US through their business activities. E-2 visa can also be extended to employees of the investor’s company who will take a role in US operations in an executive or supervisory role.
The catch here is that the employee granted this visa must be of the same nationality as the individual to whom the original E-2 visa was issued. We find that many of our clients run businesses that employ individuals from multiple nations, so this designation can be tricky in that instance.
H1-B: Formerly a Popular Choice, Now More Rare
The H1-B visa used to be a popular choice for employees destined for US offices. It is a designation that allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers, so long as they were employed in an occupation that required specialty training or qualifications. Fifteen years ago, the quota for H1-B visas was roughly equivalent to the demand, however, over time, that quota has shrunk dramatically.
Tips on Navigating Visas
If you find yourself in the position of trying to determine whether or not you should send a foreign national to the United States or hire locally, you may consider reading our guide that was developed in consultation with businesses making that decision.
What you decide in this scenario is very dependent on your unique business situation but we have lots of experience in handling a number of similar situations. We can help guide you to the arrangement that will be most advantageous for your business. Feel free to contact us for more guidance.