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Temporary Benefits Employment Categories and Required Documentation

Employers may use the I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, for the following types of workers. Click on the employment category below to find further information, and to find out what documentation must be filed with the petition.

H-1B Specialty Workers and Fashion Models P-1 Athlete, Entertainment Groups
H-1C Registered Nurses P-2 Artistic Exchange
H-2 Temporary Labor H-2A Agricultural worker
P-3 Culturally Unique Artists
H-3 Alien Trainees Q-1 International Cultural Exchange Program
L-1 Intracompany Transferee O-1 Aliens with Extraordinary Ability

The following categories do not require an I-129 petition if the worker is currently outside of the United States. Aliens in the following classifications use this form only to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment.

E Treaty Trader or Investor TN Canadian Citizens under NAFTA
R-1 Religious Worker  

The I-129 form is currently being updated to reflect the categories listed above. Thus, the form in its present state may not have a check box corresponding to the desired category. In this case, please write in the desired category.
 

Treaty Traders and Investors (Eís)

The E categories are designated for aliens engaged in international trade or investment between the United States (U.S.) and the aliensí countries of nationality, provided the U.S. has an appropriate treaty relationship with the foreign country.

A treaty country is a foreign state with which a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the U.S. A Treaty Country includes a foreign state that is accorded treaty visa privileges under section 101(a)(15)(E) of the INA by specific legislation. A listing of countries with whom the U.S. currently has treaties can be downloaded from the State Departmentís Foreign Affairs Manual (select 9 FAM 41.51 Exhibit 1 to obtain the correct list).

Note: There is no petitioning process for the E categories. E-nonimmigrant classification is granted through an application process. If outside of the U.S., the alien may apply for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad. If the alien is inside the U.S., the Form I-129 and E supplement is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. Applications for E-1 or E-2 status may be filed only at the Texas or California Service Centers. However, if an alien currently in E-1 or E-2 status is requesting a change of status to another nonimmigrant classification, the application for change of status must be mailed to one of the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the new requested classification.

For the alien to visit the U.S. temporarily for trading or investing purposes, the requirements outlined at 8CFR 214.2(e) must be met. Potential applicants are also encouraged to consult Department of State regulations at 22CFR 41.51. A brief summary of the requirements for E-1ís and E-2ís follows.

Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of an E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant will be admitted under same classification as the principal. The dependent spouse and child(ren) are not required to have the same nationality as the principal alien.

Effective January 16, 2002, spouses of E-1 treaty traders or E-2 treaty investors who have been admitted to the United States under sections 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act are authorized employment without restrictions. Further, an unmarried dependent son or daughter of an E nonimmigrant employee of the Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) is authorized employment without restriction. In order to obtain work authorization, the E nonimmigrant spouse must submit:

  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to the Service Center with jurisdiction over the dependent spouseís place of residence (concurrently filed applications with Form I-129 petitions for the principals may only be filed at the appropriate service center);
  • a filing fee of $340;
  • evidence of the E nonimmigrant principalís current status;
  • the dependent spouseís and the principalís Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Records as evidence of admission or change of status; and
  • a copy of the Form I-797 approval notice for the E nonimmigrant principalís petition, if available.
     

E-1 Treaty Trader

The E-1 classification is authorized for a national of a country with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who is coming to the U.S. solely to engage in trade of a substantial nature principally between the United States and the alienís country of nationality. The trade involved must be international exchange (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) of items of trade between the U.S. and a treaty country. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.

If the alien is inside the U.S., the I-129 is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. This classification does not require a petition for employment if the alien is outside of the U.S. If outside of the U.S., the alien applies for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad.

Application Document Requirements
The application must be filed with the appropriate fee payment, and evidence that:

  • The applicant is a national of a country with which the U.S. has the requisite treaty or agreement;
  • The activity constitutes trade as defined at 8 CFR 214.2(e)(9);
  • The trade is of a substantial nature (i.e. an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country);
  • The trade conducted by the alien is principally trade between the United States and the treaty country of which the alien is a national. Trade is deemed to be principally between the U.S. and treaty country when over 50% of the volume of international trade conducted by the treaty trader is between the U.S. and treaty country of the treaty traderís nationality;
  • If the applicant is not the principal trader, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess special qualifications that make the applicantís services essential to the successful and efficient operation of the enterprise.

Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. The applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of E-1 status. (However, an application for initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay in E classification may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.)

The employee has the same nationality as the principal alien employer.

The alien principal employer is an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons having the nationality of the treaty country.

E-2 Treaty Investor

The E-2 classification is authorized for a national of a country with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who is coming to the United States solely to direct and develop the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested, or is actively involved in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.

If the alien is inside the U.S., the I-129 should be used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. This category does not require a petition for employment if the alien is outside of the U.S. In that case, the alien applies for this category on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad.

The investment involved must place lawfully acquired, owned, and controlled capital at commercial risk with a profit objective, and be subject to loss if the investment fails.

Application Document Requirements
The application must be filed with the appropriate fee payment, and evidence that:

  • The investor is a national of a country with whom the U.S. has the requisite treaty or agreement;
  • The alien (or in the case of an employee of a treaty investor who seeks classification as an E-2, the owner of the treaty enterprise) will direct or develop the enterprise. The alien must demonstrate that he controls the enterprise by showing ownership of at least 50% of the enterprise, by possessing operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device or by other means;
  • The investor has invested in or is actively in the process of investing in the enterprise;
  • The investment is substantial, i.e. sufficient to ensure the investorís financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise and big enough to support the likelihood that the investor will successfully direct and develop the enterprise;
  • The investment enterprise is not a marginal enterprise;
    If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess skills that are highly specialized and essential to the operations of the commercial enterprise. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
  • That the applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of E-2 status.
     

Specialty Workers (H-1B)

The H-1B categories apply to aliens coming temporarily to perform services in a specialty occupation, or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. The FY2001, 2002, and 2003 cap on H1-B admissions is 65,000 workers.

Labor Condition Application
The first step to hiring most H-1B workers from outside the U.S. is for the employer to file a labor condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL). Then the employer is required to file the LCA approval notice with the I-129 petition. For specific procedures on filing, please visit the Department of Laborís Employment and Training Administration.

Some terms and conditions of the H-1B classification:

Work authorization for H-1B foreign specialty workers is employer-specific (i.e. limited to employment with the approved employer/petitioner).

A change of employer requires a new H-1B petition; under some circumstances, a nonimmigrant who was previously issued an H1-B visa or provided H1-B nonimmigrant status may begin working for a new H1-B employer as soon as the new employer files a ďnonfrivolousĒ H1-B petition for the nonimmigrant. For more information, please go to our Changes to the HB Program page.

Multiple employers require multiple H-1B petitions. 

The employer is responsible for return transportation costs for an employee terminated prior to the end of the approved period of employment.

H-1B foreign specialty workers are not required to maintain foreign residence and may seek permanent residence in the U.S.

Dependents
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of H-1B workers are entitled to H-4 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 classification.

Including more than one worker in a petition
Each petition may only include one worker.

H-1B1 Specialty Occupations
The H-1B1 category applies to an alien coming temporarily to perform services in a specialty occupation which requires the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge requiring completion of a specific course of higher education.

Document Requirements for H-1B Classification Petition
The petition (Form I-129) should be filed by the U.S. employer with:

  • A certified labor condition application from the Department of Labor;
  • Copies of evidence that the proposed employment qualifies as a specialty occupation;
  • Evidence the alien has the required degree by submitting either:
    • A copy of the person's U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree which is required by the specialty occupation;
    • A copy of a foreign degree determined to be equivalent to the U.S. degree; or
    • Copies of evidence of education and experience which is equivalent to the required U.S. degree;
  • A copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment; and 
  • A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed.
     

H-1B2 Research and Development Project

The H-1B2 category applies to an alien coming temporarily to perform services of an exceptional nature relating to a cooperative research and development project administered by the Department of Defense.

Petition Document Requirements
The petition (Form I-129) must be filed by the U.S. employer and must be filed with:

  • A description of the proposed employment and evidence the services and project meet the above conditions; and
  • A statement listing the names of all aliens who are not permanent residents who have been employed on the project within the past year, along with their dates of employment.
  • Note: this category does not require an LCA.
     

H-1B3 Fashion Model

The H-1B3 category applies to a fashion model who is nationally or internationally recognized for achievements, to be employed in a position requiring someone of distinguished merit and ability.

Petition Document Requirements
The petition (Form I-129) should be filed by the U.S. employer with:

  • A certified labor condition application from the Department of Labor;
  • Copies of evidence establishing that the alien is nationally or internationally recognized in the field of fashion modeling. The evidence must include at least two of the following types of documentation which show that the person:
    • Has achieved national or international recognition in his or her field as evidenced by major newspaper, trade journals, magazines or other published material;
    • Has performed and will perform services as fashion model for employers with a distinguished reputation;
    • Has received recognition for significant achievements from organizations, critics, fashion houses, modeling agencies or other recognized experts in the field; and
  • Commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.
  • Copies of evidence establishing that the services to be performed require a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability and either:
    • Involve an event or production which has a distinguished reputation; or
    • The services are as participant for an organization or establishment that has a distinguished reputation or record of employing persons of distinguished merit and ability.
       

Registered Nurses (H-1Cís)

The H-1C category applies to an alien coming temporarily to perform services as a registered nurse in a health professional shortage area as determined by the United States Department of Labor. Only 500 nurses can be granted H-1C status in a fiscal year nationally. There are also numerical limitations for each state based on the stateís population. The cap for states with populations in excess of 9 million is 50 per fiscal year. The cap on states with populations of 9 million or less is 25 per fiscal year.

How to petition for an H-1C nurse
An H-1C petition can only be filed by a United States employer hospital (facility) that has filed an attestation on Form ETA 9081, Attestation for H-1C Nonimmigrant Nurses, with the United States Department of Labor. For information on how to file an attestation with the Department of Labor, please visit the Department of Laborís Employment and Training Administration. Petitions for an H-1C nurse must be filed on form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, at the Vermont Service Center.

Supporting documentation to be filed with an H-1C petition
The petition (Form I-129) should be filed by the facility with:

  • A current copy of the Department Laborís acceptance of the filing of an attestation on Form ETA 9081;
  • A statement from the facility describing any limitation which the laws of the state or jurisdiction of intended employment place on the alienís services;
  • Evidence that the alien(s) named on the petition is a person who is or will be authorized by a State Board of Nursing to engage in registered nurse practice in a state or U.S. territory or possession, and who is or will be practicing at a facility which provides health care services;
  • Evidence that the alien(s) named on the petition has passed the examination given by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or has obtained a full and unrestricted (permanent) license to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment or has obtained a full and unrestricted (permanent) license in any state or territory of the United States and received temporary authorization to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment; 
  • Evidence that the alien(s) has obtained a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the country where the alien obtained nursing education or has received nursing education in the United States; and
  • Evidence that the alien(s) named on the petition is fully qualified and eligible under the laws (including such temporary or interim licensing requirements which authorize the nurse to be employed) governing the place of intended employment to practice as a registered nurse immediately upon admission to the United States, and is authorized under such laws to be employed by the employer.

Some terms and conditions of the H-1C classification:

Work authorization for H-1C nurses is employer-specific, i.e. limited to employment with the approved employer/petitioner.

A change of employer requires a new H-1C petition; new employment (any employment other than the originally approved employment) cannot begin until a petition for change of employment (Form I-129) is approved by the INS. If an H-1C nonimmigrant nurse will work for more than one employer, each employer must file its own H-1C petition on the alienís behalf.

An H-1C alien is not precluded from applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence if the alien is otherwise eligible for adjustment of status.

More than one nurse may be included on an H-1C petition.

Dependents
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of H-1C workers are entitled to H-4 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 classification.

Period of Admission
The maximum period of admission for an H-1C alien is three years. An alien may receive an extension of stay to complete the 3-year period of admission. However, an extension of stay may not be granted to extend the alienís period of admission beyond the initial 3-year period of time.
 

Temporary Alien Labor to Meet Temporary Needs (H-2ís)

U.S. employers may petition for skilled or unskilled alien workers to meet temporary or seasonal needs in positions for which qualified U.S. workers are not available. It is important to note that the employerís need for such services must be temporary. There is currently an annual cap of 66,000 visas for H-2B workers. There is currently no annual cap on visas for H-2A workers.

Labor Certification
The first step to hiring an H-2 worker from outside the U.S. is for the employer to apply for a temporary labor certification with the Department of Labor. These certificates are designed to ensure that the admission of aliens to work in this country on a temporary basis will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages, or working conditions of U.S. workers. The employer is required to file the labor certification with the I-129 petition. For specific procedures on filing, please visit the Department of Laborís Employment and Training Administration.

Dependents
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of H-2 workers are entitled to H-4 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 classification.

Including more than one alien in a petition
A single petition may cover multiple workers if:

        they will perform the same services
        they will work in the same location
        they are included on the same labor certification and, 
        they come from places that are served by the same U.S. consulate, or, if visa exempt, they will enter at the same port of entry.

It is not necessary to identify requested H-2A beneficiaries by name (unless only a single worker is needed) if they are unnamed on the underlying labor certification. H-2B beneficiaries must be named unless circumstances (e.g. emergencies) make identification by name impossible. The number of unnamed beneficiaries must always be stated on the petition.
 

H-2A Agricultural worker

The H-2A classification applies to an alien coming temporarily to engage in temporary or seasonal agricultural employment.

Petition Document Requirements
Before filing this petition an employer must first apply for a labor certification from the Department of Labor to demonstrate that U.S. workers are not available and that the wages and working conditions meet regional standards. The petition (Form I-129) must be filed by a U.S. employer or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer on the certification. It should be filed with:

  • An original valid temporary agricultural labor certification from the Department of Labor. If the application is denied because it is determined that U.S. workers are available but they do not subsequently appear at the work site, the petition should be filed with a copy of that agency's denial or a certification and appeal, and evidence that qualified domestic labor is unavailable; and 
  • Copies of evidence that each named alien met the requirements as stated when applying for the labor certification.
     

H-2B Skilled or Unskilled Worker

The H-2B classification applies to an alien coming temporarily to engage in non-agricultural employment which is seasonal, intermittent, a peak load need, or a one-time occurrence.

Petition Document Requirements
Before filing this petition the U.S. employer must first apply for a temporarylabor certification from the Department of Labor to demonstrate that U.S. workers are not available and that wages and working conditions meet regional standards. The U.S. employer should file the Form I-129 petition with:

  • Either an original single valid temporary labor certification from the Department of Labor (or the Governor of Guam if the proposed employment is solely in Guam), indicating that qualified U.S. workers are not available and that employment of the alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers; or
  • An original notice from such authority stating that such certification cannot be made, along with evidence of the unavailability of U.S. workers and of the prevailing wage rate for the occupation in the U.S, and evidence overcoming each reason why the certification was not granted; and 
  • Copies of evidence, such as employment letters and training certificates, demonstrating that each named alien meets the minimum job requirements stated in the certification.
     

Alien Trainees (H-3)

The H-3 classification applies to aliens (beneficiaries) coming temporarily to the U.S. to participate in a training program. There are general H-3ís, and those coming for special education training. There is currently no annual cap on H-3 admissions to the U.S.
The petitioning employer or sponsors must demonstrate that the:

Proposed training is not available in the beneficiaryís home country

Beneficiary will not be placed in a position which is in the normal operation of the business, and in which citizens and resident alien workers are regularly employed 

Beneficiary will not be productively employed except as incidental to training

Training will benefit beneficiary in pursuing a career outside the U.S.

Note: H-3 status is not appropriate for graduate education, including medical training, except under special circumstances. Petitioning employers may not use H-3 classification for training programs primarily designed to benefit the U.S. companies and/or where U.S. workers would be employed but for the traineesí services.

Dependents
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of H-3 principal trainees are entitled to H-4 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 status.

Including more than one alien in a petition
Aliens who will apply for their visas at the same consulate or, if they do not need visas, will enter at the same port of entry may be included in one petition if

     the dates of training are the same, and
     they will perform the same duties.

H-3 Training
The H-3 category applies to an alien coming temporarily to receive training from an employer in any field other than graduate education or training.

Petition Document Requirements
The petition should be filed by the U.S. employer with:

  • A detailed description of the training program, including the number of classroom hours per week and the number of hours of on-the-job training per week;
  • A summary of the prior training and experience of each alien in the petition; and
  • An explanation of why the training is required, whether similar training is available in the alien's country, how the training will benefit the alien in pursuing a career abroad, what benefits the employer will derive from the training, and why the employer will incur the cost of providing the training without significant productive labor from the trainee(s).

H-3 Special education training program
The H-3 classification also applies to an alien coming temporarily to participate in a special education training program in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

Petition Document Requirements
The petition (Form I-129) must be filed by the U.S. employer who has a professional staff and a structured program for providing education to children with disabilities. The petition must be filed with:

  • A description of the training, staff and facilities, evidence the program meets the above conditions and details of the alien's participation in the program; and
  • Copies of evidence the alien is nearing completion of a baccalaureate degree or higher in special education, or already holds such a degree or has extensive prior training and experience in teaching children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
     

Intracompany Transferees (L-1ís)

The L-1 category applies to aliens who work for a company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the U.S. These workers come to the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services either
        in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or
        which entail specialized knowledge (L-1B)
for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same employer that employed the professional abroad. The employee must have been employed abroad for the corporation, firm, or other legal entity (or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof) on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period to qualify. There is currently no annual cap on L-1 visas.

Note 1: Public Law 107-125 allowed aliens to qualify for L visas after having worked for 6 months overseas for employers if the employers had filed a blanket L petition and had met the blanket petitions' requirements.

The L-1 Visa Reform Act eliminates the 6 month exception that Public Law 107-125 implemented. All L-1 beneficiaries are now required to have been employed abroad for a 12-month period regardless of whether the beneficiary is obtaining L classification based on a blanket or as an individual. This provision applies only to initial L petitions filed after June 6, 2005. The 6 month rule should continue to be applied to cases involving extensions or changes of job duties within the L classification filed after the effective date, but in which the original status was obtained through a blanket process prior to the effective date based on the then existing eligibility requirements.

Note 2: The employer is not required to obtain a labor certification prior to petitioning in this category. Compensation level is not prescribed, but U.S. income must be sufficient to prevent the alien from becoming a public charge.

Dependents
Dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S. while remaining in L-2 status. If it can be established that the spouse is accompanying or following to join the principal alien, the spouse may obtain an employment authorization under the L-2 classification. Minor children may not be employed under the L-2 classification.

Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer or foreign employer may file the I-129 petition, but a foreign employer must have a legal business in the U.S. The petition must be filed with:

  • Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and the foreign employer which address ownership and control, such as an annual report, copies of articles of incorporation, financial statements, or stock certificates;
  • A letter from the alien's foreign qualifying employer detailing his or her dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary and demonstrating that the alien worked for the employer abroad for at least one continuous year within the three-year period before the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge; and 
  • A detailed description of the proposed job duties and qualifications and evidence the proposed employment is in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge.

If the alien is coming to the U.S. as a manager or executive (L-1A) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:

  • Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured; 
  • The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer and the qualifying position; and
  • The intended U.S. operation will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition. This must be supported by information regarding:
    • the proposed nature of the U.S. office (size and scope, organizational structure, and financial goals),
    • financial information about the foreign entity (the size of the U.S. investment and the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the U.S.), and 
    • the organizational structure of the foreign entity.

If the alien is coming to the U.S. in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that: 

  • Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The business entity in the U.S is or will be a qualifying organization
  • The petitioner has the financial ability to compensate the alien beneficiary and to begin doing business in the U.S.

Extending an Individual L-1 Petition
A petitioner may apply for an extension of an individual L-1 petition using Form I-129. Supporting documentation is not required, except in those cases involving new offices or when requested. For details, please refer to 8CFR 214.2(l)(14)(i).
 

Blanket L Petition

Employers who regularly file L petitions may wish to consider filing for a blanket L petition in order to obtain continuing approval for itself (and some or all of its parents, branches, subsidiaries and affiliates in the U.S.). This simplifies the process of approving and admitting additional individual L-1A and L-1B workers.

The blanket L petition must be filed by a U.S. employer who will be the single representative between INS and the qualifying organizations and must be filed with copies of evidence that the:

  • Petitioner and its branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates are engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • Petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • Petitioner has 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; 
  • Petitioner and its qualifying organizations have obtained approved petitions for at least ten L-1 professionals during the previous year or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least 25 million dollars, or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
    After approval of a blanket petition, the petitioner may file for individual employees to enter as L-1 professionals under the blanket petition. If the alien is outside the U.S., submit a completed Form I-129S and a copy of the Form I-797 (INS approval notice). If the alien is already in the U.S., the petitioner may file an I-129 to request a change of status, based on this blanket petition. An I-129 petition for a change of status must be filed with:
    • A copy of the approval notice for the blanket petition;
    • A letter from the alien's foreign employer detailing the alienís dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary for the 3 previous years; and
    • If the alien is a specialized knowledge professional, a copy of a U.S. degree, a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. degree, or evidence establishing the combination of the beneficiary's education and experience is the equivalent of a U.S. degree.

Extending a Blanket L Petition
A petitioner may file an I-129 to extend an expiring blanket petition. The extension petition must be filed with:

  • A copy of the previous approval notice for the blanket petition; and
  • A summary of the employment of L-1 aliens admitted under the blanket petition during the preceding three years, listing, for each alien:
               His or her name; 
               Position(s) held during the period;
               Employing entity;
               Date of initial L-1 admission under the blanket;
               Date of final departure, if the alien has been transferred outside the United States, and;
  • Documentation of any changes in approved relationships and additional qualifying relationships.

 

Aliens with Extraordinary Ability (Oís)

The O category is reserved for:

Aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1),
     the artistís or athleteís support staff (O-2), and
     the O-1ís spouse and/or child(ren) (O-3).

To qualify, the alien must be coming to the U.S. to work in his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement. There is currently no annual cap on O visas.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability (Science, Education, Business, or Athletics)
The O-1 category applies to aliens coming temporarily who has extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television).

Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer should file the petition (Form I-129) with:

  • A written advisory opinion from a peer group (including labor organizations) or a person designated by the group with expertise in the alien's area of ability; 
  • A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;
  • Evidence that the alien has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least three of the following:
    • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized international experts;
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the alien and his work in the field for which classification is sought; 
    • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
    • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
    • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought; 
    • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
    • If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the alien's eligibility.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability (Arts, Motion Picture, or Television)
The O-1 category also applies to aliens who are coming temporarily and have extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:

  • A written advisory opinion, describing the alienís ability as follows:
             
    • If the petition is based on the alien's extraordinary ability in the arts, the consultation must be from a peer group (including labor organizations) in the alien's field of endeavor; or a person or persons designated by the group with expertise in the alien's area of ability. 
    • If the petition is based on the alien's extraordinary achievements in the motion picture or television industry, separate consultations are required from a labor and a management organization with expertise in the alien's field of endeavor.
  • A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed;
  • Evidence the alien has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director's Guild Award, or evidence of at least three of the following:
    • Performed or will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements; 
    • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the individual in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
    • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as 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 the alien is 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; or
  • If the above standards do not readily apply to the alien's occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the alien's eligibility.
     

O-2 Support Personnel

The O-2 category applies to aliens accompanying an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance. This person would be acting as an essential and integral part of the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 artist or athlete because he or she performs support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.

Petition Document Requirements
The petition must be filed by a U.S. employer in conjunction with the filing of the O-1 alien petition and must be filed with:

  • A written advisory opinion.
    • If the O-2 petition is for an alien accompanying an O-1 alien of extraordinary ability in the arts, the opinion must be from a labor organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
    • If the O-2 petition is for an alien accompanying an O-1 alien of extraordinary achievement in the field of motion picture or television, the opinion must be from a labor organization and a management organization with expertise in the skill area involved.
  • Evidence of the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 alien with the O-1 alien, and that the alien has substantial experience utilizing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence shall establish that significant production has taken place outside the U.S., and will take place inside the U.S. and that the continuing participation of the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production.
     

O-3 Dependents
Spouses and minor children (dependents) of O-1ís are admitted under O-3 status with the same restrictions as the principal. They may not work in the U.S. under this classification.
 

Athletes, Entertainment Groups, Artists (Pís)
P-1 Athlete

The P-1 classification applies to an alien coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.

Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer should file the I-129 petition with:

A written advisory opinion from an appropriate labor organization: 

  • A copy of the contract with a major U.S. sports league or team or a contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in the sport, if such contracts are normally utilized in the sport;
  • Copies of evidence of at least two of the following:
                  Significant participation in a prior season with a major United States sports league;
                  Participation in international competition with a national team;
                  Significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition
                  A written statement from an official of the governing body of the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized;
                  A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how the alien or team is internationally recognized; 
                 The individual or team is ranked, if the sport has international rankings; or 
                 The alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.


P-1 Entertainment Group

The P-1 classification also applies to an alien coming temporarily to perform as a member of a foreign-based entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time. This person also must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (ordinarily for at least one year) and/or provide functions integral to the groupís performance.
 

Petition Document Requirements
The petition should be filed by a U.S. employer with:

     A written advisory opinion from an appropriate labor organization;
     A statement that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year; 
     Evidence the group is internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time as demonstrated by evidence of the group's receipt of, or nomination for, significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or evidence of at least 3 of the following:
          The group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
          The group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material; 
          The group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
          The group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
          The alien has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien's achievements; or
          The group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.


P-2 Artistic Exchange

The P-2 classification applies to an alien coming temporarily to perform as an artist or entertainer individually or as part of a group, who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country.
 

Petition Document Requirements
The I-129 petition must be filed by the sponsoring organization, an employer in the U.S., or the U.S. labor organization that negotiated the agreement. The petition must be filed with:

  • A written consultation by an appropriate labor organization;
  • A copy of the formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. organization(s) sponsoring the alien and the organization(s) in a foreign country which will receive the U.S. artist or entertainer; 
  • A statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange of U.S. artists or entertainers as it relates to the specific petition for which classification is sought;
  • Evidence the alien and the U.S. artist or entertainer subject to the reciprocal exchange agreement are artists with comparable skills and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar.
  • Evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the U.S. was involved in negotiating, or has concurred with, the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers.
     

P-3 Culturally Unique Artists

The P-3 classification applies to aliens coming temporarily to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique.
 

Petition Document Requirements
The petition should be filed by the sponsoring organization or employer in the U.S. with:

  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization; 
  • Affidavits, testimonials or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of the alien's or group's skills in performing, presenting, coaching or teaching the unique and traditional art forms and giving the credentials of the expert including the basis of his or her knowledge of the alienís or groupís skills.
  • Documentation that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events, and;
  • Documentation that the performance of the alien or group is culturally unique as evidenced by reviews in newspapers, journals or other published materials.


P-1, 2, or 3 (Accompanying Support Personnel)

This category applies to accompanying support personnel who are highly skilled aliens coming temporarily as an essential and integral part of the competition or performance of a P-1, P-2, or P-3. Essential support personnel must perform support services which cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance or services of the athlete or entertainer.

Petition Document Requirements
The petition must be filed in conjunction with the petition for a P-2 alien by a U.S. employer and must be filed with:

  • A written consultation with a labor organization in the skill in which the alien will be involved;
  • A statement describing the alien's prior and current essentiality, critical skills and experience with the principal alien;
  • A copy of any written contract between the employer and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed.
     

International Cultural Exchange Program Participants (Q-1ís)

The Q-1 classification applies to participants in an international cultural exchange program approved by the Attorney General for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of the alien's home country.
 

Including more than one alien in a petition
Aliens who will apply for their visas at the same consulate or, if they do not need visas, will enter at the same port of entry may be included in one petition if they will be involved in the same international cultural exchange program.

Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer or foreign employer may file the I-129 Q-1 petition; however, a foreign employer's petition must be signed by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident employed by the qualified employer on a permanent basis in an executive, managerial, or supervisory capacity for the prior year. The petition must be filed with evidence the employer:

  •       Maintains an established international cultural exchange program. This may be demonstrated by submitting copies of catalogs, brochures or other types of material which illustrate that:
                    The cultural component of the program is designed to give an overview of the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, tradition and/or other cultural attributes of the participant's home country, and; 
                    The program activities take place in a public setting where the sharing of culture can be achieved through direct interaction with the American public or a segment thereof. 
     
  • Has designated a qualified employee to administer the program and serve as liaison with INS; 
  • Will offer the alien wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local domestic workers similarly employed; and 
  • Has the financial ability to compensate the participant(s), as shown by a copy of the employer's most recent annual report, business income tax return or other form of certified accountant's report.
     

Religious Worker (Rís)

The R-1 classification applies to a religious worker. This is an alien coming to the U.S. temporarily to work: 
         As a minister of religion, 
         As a professional in a religious vocation or occupation, or
         For a bona fide nonprofit religious organization at the request of the organization, in a religious occupation which relates to a traditional religious function.
The applicant (religious worker) must have been a member of a religious denomination having a nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least the two years immediately prior to the application date. To be eligible, the U.S. petitioning organization must be a nonprofit religious organization granted (or eligible for) tax exempt status, and must demonstrate that it can and will provide for all of the R-1 beneficiaryís financial and physical needs.
If the alien is outside the U.S., he or she may apply directly to a consulate for an R visa. If visa exempt, the alien may apply at a port of entry.

If the alien is inside the U.S., the religious organization may use the I-129 to petition for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment.

Dependents
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of R-1 workers are entitled to R-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S., but may not be employed under the R-2 classification. Note: Dependents should file for a change of status or extension of stay on Form I-539 (Application to Extend/change Nonimmigrant Status).

Petition Document Requirements
The I-129 petition may be filed by an authorized official of the U.S. organization and must be filed with:

  • A written statement from an authorized official of the religious organization that will be employing the alien establishing
                     that the alien has been a member of the denomination for the required two years,
                    a description of the proposed position, and that the alien is qualified for the position, 
                    the arrangements, if any, for salary, benefits, and other compensation
                    the name and location of the place the alien will provide the services
                    the organizationís affiliation with the denomination
                    (note: if the alien is to be employed, the INS requires that this letter be from the organizational unit responsible for maintaining I-9ís);
  • Evidence showing that the religious organization or any affiliate which will engage the alienís services is a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the U.S. and is exempt from taxation in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
     

Employing Canadian and Mexican Professionals Under NAFTA

The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) makes temporary employment in the U.S. easier for certain Canadian and Mexican workers. NAFTA created a new classification, ďTN,Ē for eligible Canadian and Mexican professional workers and also affected terms of admission for Canadians admitted to the U.S. under other nonimmigrant classifications.
TN employment must be in a profession listed in Appendix 1603.0.1 to NAFTA and the TN employee must possess the credentials required. There is no annual limit on TN-1 admissions from Canada or Mexico.

Dependents
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of TN professionals are entitled to TD status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S., but may not be employed under the TD status.

TN Canadian or Mexican Citizen under NAFTA
The TN classification applies to a Canadian or Mexican citizen seeking admission as a professional temporarily under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Petition Document Requirements
For a Canadian citizen:
This classification does not require a petition for employment if the alien is a Canadian citizen and is outside of the U.S. Canadian citizens need not obtain TN-1 consular visas, and may apply directly at Class A U.S. ports of entry. They must provide:

  • A statement from the employer with a full description of the nature of the duties the beneficiary will be performing, the anticipated length of stay, and the arrangements for pay or reward; 
  • Evidence that the beneficiary meets the education and/or alternative credentials for the activity; 
  • Evidence that all licensure requirements, where applicable to the activity, have been satisfied;
  • Evidence of Canadian citizenship.

For a Mexican citizen:
This classification does not require a petition for employment if the alien is a Mexican citizen and is outside the U.S. However, Mexican citizens are still required to obtain TN visas at the U.S. consulate abroad. They must provide:

  • A statement from the employer with a a full description of the nature of the duties the beneficiary will be performing, the anticipated length of stay, and the arrangements for pay or reward; 
  • Evidence that the beneficiary meets the education and/or alternative credentials for the activity;
  • Evidence that all licensure requirements, where applicable to the activity, have been satisfied;
  • Evidence of Mexican citizenship

 

 

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