The United State’s manufacturing companies require huge numbers of foreign workers, both skilled and unskilled. Often, they prefer hiring foreign workers temporarily, later considering permanent options if the candidate’s relevancy to the operations is important.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offer various nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs that facilitate the hiring of foreign workers by US manufacturing firms.
What Are the Nonimmigrant Visas Options for Manufacturing Companies?
H-1B - Speciality Occupations
This is one of the most common visa programs used by US companies to hire foreign professionals. The H-1B Visa allows foreign nationals in specialty occupations to work in the US temporarily. The foreign national must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field and a job offering the prevailing wage rate for their occupation.
Manufacturing companies usually hire engineers, researchers, accountants, finance experts, and various Information Technology (IT) professionals through this visa classification. The main challenge of hiring through the H-1B Visa program is that there are only a limited number of spots available annually. Currently, the annual cap for the new H-1B Visas is 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 for applicants with a master’s degree or above from a US university.
The USCIS also conducts a lottery to nominate applicants to file an H-1B Visa petition. The US employer is responsible for registering their employee for the lottery. The usual cap limit for the H-1B Visa lottery is 85,000. In March 2021, the USCIS received an estimated 300,000 H-1B lottery registrations for 85,000 spots.
The H-1B Visa is usually issued for a period of 3 years, which can be later extended to 6 years. If you plan to stay in the US beyond 6 years, then you have to apply for US permanent residence.
L1 Visas - Intracompany Transferees and Employees with Specialized Knowledge
This L1 Visa category is for foreign nationals who have been employed with a company that is an affiliate, subsidiary, or branch of a US parent company. This visa will allow the companies to transfer their senior-level managers or executives and their employees with specialized knowledge to the US branch. There are two types of visas available under this category:
- L-1A Visa: for senior managers and executives
- L-1B Visa: for employees with specialized knowledge of some aspect of the company’s operations
The L-1 Visas are usually issued for an initial period of 3 years. The L-1A Visa can be extended for 4 more years while the L-1B Visa can be extended for only 2 more years.
TN Visa - Canadian and Mexican Professionals
The TN Visa is available for Canadian and Mexican citizens employed in one of the designated professions for the visa, for example, engineers, accountants, computer system analysts, scientists, researchers, etc. The TN Visa is issued for an initial 3 year period.
It can be renewed again and again, given that employment in the US is always temporary. It is a relatively quick way for Canadian and Mexican workers to work in the US.
E-2- Treaty Investor Visa
International businesses and entrepreneurs looking to establish a US entity can consider applying for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. The E-2 Visa is available to citizens of countries that have treaties of commerce and navigation with the US. Investors can apply for the E-2 Visa to their nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
If their application is approved, they will be authorized to send their key staff members to the US to establish their business. The key staff members must be employees in a supervisory, executive, or highly skilled position or essential to the operations of the business.