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When is the right time to apply for a visa?
The short answer is plan ahead because availability varies each year. Some applications can be filed at any time, such as family sponsored green cards, work sponsored green cards, L visas for transfer of workers or TN visas for professionals from Canada or Mexico.
By contrast, the H-1B temporary skilled worker program has an annual lottery for new visas for private employers held the first week of April each year (unless the worker already has an H-1B visa). Similarly, H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers, sometimes used by hospitality workers and landscapers, begin the application at least 120 days before start of employment, and new visas are offered semi-annually, from Oct. 1 – March 31 and April 1 – Sept. 30.
What are the best ways for obtaining a green card for an employee?
I always advise clients to take a flexible approach to planning because a particular visa program that’s helpful today may become unavailable in a few years. Green cards for employees require careful planning and depend entirely on the type of job. Visa requirements are different, for example, for a valuable production worker compared to a high-skilled researcher with dozens of publications. Two green card programs that are usually quite helpful are the EB-2 and EB-3 programs. Both usually require first an application to the federal Department of Labor followed by a visa application to USCIS.
A limited number of green card categories allow a person to self-sponsor their green card, such as the EB-1A and EB-2 National Interest Waiver. They’re reserved for people with extraordinary achievements in sciences, arts, business or athletics. The EB-5 investor visa requires a significant investment of lawfully earned capital and creation of at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers.
Donoso & Associates is nationally recognized as a leading business immigration law firm with particular expertise in visas for professionals, researchers, investors, professional athletes and families who seek experienced guidance on how to obtain appropriate work visas or green card status in the United States.