US Visas

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Below is general information.  Please contact us at www.insurance-network.com to assist you with your health insurance.

VISAS

The type of visa that an employee or independent contractor holds determines the types of payment remuneration that an individual may receive. Certain visas are not eligible to receive any type of payments.

A. Immigration Visas

The U.S. Department of State is responsible for the issuance of U.S. passports and immigrant visas to the United States. Immigrant visas usually are obtained where a relative of the prospective immigrant or a U.S. employer wishing to provide work for the alien files a petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Individuals entering the United States with an immigrant visa are issued a photo-identification card, commonly known as the "green card."Green cards containing the notation "I-151"in the lower left-hand back corner are being replaced with an I-551 card containing the bearer's photo, fingerprint, and signature. As of March 20, 1996 the old I-151 green card no longer constitutes valid proof of immigrant status. Lawful permanent resident aliens may obtain an application for a new I-551 card by calling 1-800-755-0777.

Foreign nationals holding green cards -- those foreign nationals admitted under immigrant visas -- are classified as resident aliens for U.S. taxation purposes. However, it is not necessarily true that foreign nationals admitted under nonimmigrant visas are nonresident aliens for tax purposes. Nonimmigrants will be considered resident aliens if they satisfy the "substantial presence test"(See Determination of Tax Status).

B. Non-Immigration Visas

Non-immigration visas are issued to foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States for a specific purpose that can be accomplished during a temporary period. The various types of non-immigrant visas are denoted by letters and are sometimes referred to as "temporary visas"since they generally are issued for finite periods, although some are renewable. A non-immigrant visa authorizes foreign nationals to proceed to the United States, where if admitted, they are issued a Form I-94 indicating the length of the period they are authorized to remain in the United States.

C. Non-Immigration Visa Types

A-1, A-2, and A-3 visaholders are foreign government officials. They are aliens coming temporarily to the United States who has been accredited by a foreign government to function as an ambassador, public minister, career diplomatic or consular officer, other accredited official, or an attendant, servant or personal employee of an accredited official, and all above aliens' spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.
A-1 and A-2
visaholders are only authorized to work for the foreign government which accredited them. A-1 and A-2 immediate family members may obtain work authorization in the form of a fully executed Form I-566, endorsed by the Department of State. A-3 visas are only authorized to work for the A-1 or A-2 visaholders who hired them. Immediate family members are not authorized to work.

B visas are issued to nonresident aliens who are visiting the United States temporarily for business or for pleasure. B visa holders may not receive compensation for services in the U.S. The B classification is divided into two types, visitors for business (B-1) and visitors for pleasure (B-2). B-1 visa holders are only eligible to receive reimbursement for travel expenses and per diem. B-2 visa holders are not eligible to receive reimbursements for any expenses. In some instances, a combination B-1/B-2 visa is issued. These visa holders may not accept employment or perform services for which they are paid from a U.S. source. They are only eligible to receive an expense allowance or reimbursement for expense incidental to their temporary stay. The language of the Foreign Affairs Manual suggests that if an agency or university pays an honorarium to a nonresident alien B visaholder it must not exceed reasonable incidental expenses. N3.4 of Section 41.31 of the Foreign Affairs Manual explains "incidental expenses":

 
  • "In determining whether an honorarium or other fee paid an alien constitutes remuneration of 'incidential expenses' (i.e., room and board, cost of travel, pocket money), the consular officer shall consider the standard of living to which the applicant is accustomed and the relative cost of living expenses in the United States."


F-1 students are permitted to engage in on-campus employment for not more than 20 hours per week. On-campus employment may be performed either on the school's premises or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school. Students may be employed full-time on campus when school is not in session. This type of employment is authorized by the school and no particular written endorsement or permission is required. F-2 visa holders are dependents of students and are not authorized to work.

H-1 visas are issued to professionals who have completed a degree program at an accredited college or university or have accumulated equivalent experience. There is no notation regarding employment on the INS I-94 card for H-1 visa holders because this type of visa denotes that employment is authorized. Normally, an H-1 visa holder performs services as an employee. The employer and the duties will be specified. Work is only authorized for the sponsoring employer.

J-1 visas are issued to exchange visitors including students, scholars and trainees. A J-1 beneficiary may only work for the sponsoring employer. A J-2 spouse may be employed if authorized by the INS. An economic necessity must be demonstrated to receive this authorization.

K-1 visaholders are nonimmigrant aliens coming to the United States to conclude a valid marriage with a U.S. citizen within ninety days after entry. Work is authorized.

Q visas are issued to participants in international cultural exchange programs for the duration of the program, but no longer than fifteen months. The purposes of these exchange programs are to provide practical training, employment and the sharing of the history, culture and traditions of the country of the alien's nationality.

D. United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement

Public Law 100-449 (Act of 9/28/88) established a special, reciprocal trading relationship between the United States and Canada. It provided two new classes of nonimmigrant admission for temporary visitors to the United States-Canadian citizen business persons and their spouses and unmarried minor children. Entry is facilitated for visitors seeking classification as visitors for business, treaty traders or investors, intracompany transferees, or other business people engaging in activities at a professional level. Such visitors are not required to obtain nonimmigrant visas, prior petitions, labor certifications, or prior approval but must satisfy the inspecting officer they are seeking entry to engage in activities at a professional level and that they are so qualified. The United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement was superseded by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as of 1/1/94. (See North American Free-Trade Agreement.)

E. North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Public Law 103-182 (Act of 12/8/93), superseded the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement as of 1/1/94. NAFTA continues the special, reciprocal trading relationship between the United States and Canada (see United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement), and establishes a similar relationship with Mexico.

The NAFTA permits Canadians to enter the U.S. as visitors for business or pleasure without first obtaining a visa. Mexican applicants must still obtain a visa or use a Border Crossing Card. If the individual is a business visitor engaging in legitimate business activities of a commercial or professional nature, they are comparable to the business visitor (B-1). The business activities must be necessary incidents to international trade/commerce. In general, business visitors may enter the U.S. to (1) engage in commercial transactions, (2) participate in litigation, (3) participate in scientific, educational, professional or business conferences, (4) conduct independent research, or (5) be trained.

NAFTA also has special provisions for certain professionals. The professional visa status under NAFTA is a Trade NAFTA status or a "TN"status. To qualify for a TN visa, a Mexican or Canadian national must hold an occupation listed in the NAFTA annex of professionals, and must be entering to pursue that occupation for a U.S. employer. There are no special labor applications regarding prevailing wage or formal petition documents for Canadians, who may obtain a TN at the border. For Mexicans, the TN visa requires INS preapproval, like an H-1B. TN visa status is valid for one year and is indefinitely renewable.

TN visaholders must be coming to the U.S. to provide prearranged professional services. These services may be through an employee-employer relationship or through a signed contract between a self-employed professional and an agency/university or the professional's foreign employer and the agency/university.

F. Visa Waiver Countries

Individuals may enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa if they are nationals from the following counties: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Business visitor status (B-1) may be used for business visitors engaging in legitimate business activities of a commercial or professional nature

Above is general information.  Please contact US Embassies or Immigration Attorneys or www.unitedstatesvisas.gov for assistance with a US Visa.  Please contact us at www.insurance-network.com to assist you with your health insurance.

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