EB-1 and O-1A Visas: options for entrepreneurs, inventors, and talented STEM professionals
With our immigration law offices in San Jose and San Francisco, we frequently assist in successfully obtaining visas for the diverse foreign talent that has enriched the high tech industry. Many foreign IT workers think only about applying for an H1-B visa to work in the US. However, the H1-B visa has several drawbacks, including long processing times and a six-year time limit. The H1-B visa also ties an employee to one employer; a situation that may not be convenient or applicable for entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers, scientists, consultants, and the many other mavericks and creators that make up the Silicon Valley. For many of these applicants, the EB-1 Green Card category and O-1A visas may be a better option to work and live in the US.
EB-1 Immigrant Visa Category (Green Card)
The employment-based, first preference (EB-1) is a potential alternative to the employment-based, second preference (EB-2) and the employment-based, third-preference (EB-3), two other visas available to highly skilled and educated professionals. This EB-1 immigrant visa—or “green card” category—is set aside for professionals of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, or multinational executives and managers. For business and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals, we can often demonstrate your outstanding accomplishments and recognition in your field with such evidence as the receipt of awards or membership in professional organizations, having your work published in a well-regarded professional publications, or being featured in the media. We can also demonstrate your original contributions to your field or show that you have or had had a leading or critical role in a distinguished organization.
Benefits over EB-2 and EB-3 preference categories:
- No labor certification. Unlike the EB-2 and EB-3 preference categories, the EB-1 visa category does not require labor certification. This means the applicant does not need to be sponsored by a U.S. employer. Labor certification is often a long, expensive, and complex process for the employer.
- No job offer. For the subcategory “professionals of extraordinary ability”, the EB-1 visa category does not require the applicant to have a job offer from a U.S. employer. This makes it a good choice for entrepreneurs, founders of companies, independent consultants, and other highly qualified, self-employed immigrants. (Outstanding researchers or professors and multinational executives or managers, however, must have a job offer from a U.S. employer.)
O-1A Nonimmigrant Visa
An O-1A visa is a non-immigrant visa available to business and science professionals of extraordinary ability. For many, obtaining an O-1A visa can be a good first-step towards permanent residency. The qualifications for an O-1A visa are similar to the qualifications for the EB-1 immigrant visa category, but slightly less rigorous. O-1A visas can be issued fairly quickly and they can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the visa holder remains in compliance with the visa qualifications. Or, after entering the US on an O-1A visa, you can apply to change your status to a permanent resident via the EB-1 visa category.
Benefits over H1-B:
- No quota or annual limit. There is no annual limit on the number of O-1 visas issued and they can be issued fairly quickly. This allows an applicant to avoid the long wait times associated with H1-B visas, especially applicants from highly impacted countries like India and China.
- No time limit. Although this is a temporary work visa, the O visa can be issued for the maximum of three years with the possibility to extend in one-year increments indefinitely.
No job offer. This visa is a good option for self-employed business leaders, expert-level consultants, or highly sought after engineers and scientists that will work with different organizations in the U.S.
Each situation is unique and different, and thus these visa options may not always fit perfectly with an individual’s particular background. As an Immigration Attorney in San Jose for the past 15 years, Gabriel Jack has successfully acquired O1-A Visas and Green Cards through the EB-1 Visa preference for numerous clients. Because not everyone can qualify under their requirements, there are also other visa options that can be explored. Please contact our Silicon Valley law offices in San Jose or San Francisco to discuss your situation and how we may best assist you with your goal of living and working in the United States.