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Avoiding the H-1B trap: Strategies for managing your immigration issues without relying on the H-1B

Company D first contacted VisaPro in late 2004 about how to bring their employees to the US for training and work. The company has its headquarters in the US, and a development office overseas. For the past couple of years the company had been a member of the BEP program and had been sending their personnel to the US using B-1 (business visitor) visas. In the fall of 2004 the company was notified by the US consulate where they did most of their visa processing that the consulate was going to audit their use of the BEP program and B-1 visas to be sure that they were making proper use of it.

Being just a bit worried about what an audit would mean, Company D came to VisaPro for advice. After reviewing their company structure, immigration needs, and their current practices, it was our opinion that Company D was making proper use of the B-1 visa program. At their request we sent a letter to the consulate which laid out our findings and conclusions. The consulates audit agreed with our conclusions and Company Ds BEP standing was not affected. However, that is just the beginning of our involvement with Company D.

As part of our review of their current practices the Human Resources Director asked us to provide them with additional strategies for moving personnel between the overseas development office and US headquarters. Based on the parent-subsidiary structure of the companies, and the proposed use of foreign personnel in the US, especially in light of the limited number of H-1B visas available, we advised Company D that they should consider using the L-1 visa for intra-company transferees.

After reviewing the qualifications of the personnel that Company D wanted to bring to the US in the spring of 2005 we selected the best four, prepared and submitted L-1 petitions for them. All four were approved in short order, and the consulate issued the visas. Throughout 2005 we submitted several more L-1 petitions (both for executives/managers and specialized knowledge personnel), all of which were approved.

Once the first 10 L-1 petitions had been approved for Company D we prepared and submitted an L-1 Blanket petition on their behalf. The Blanket petition was approved and Company D began filing manager and specialized knowledge professional L-1 petitions directly with the consulate. This cut the processing times considerably for those employees that qualified for blanket treatment.

Company D does much of their in-house training on proprietary products at their headquarters in the US so our next step was to establish a formal training program for them with USCIS. This allows them to bring individuals for their various training programs, usually lasting 9-12 months each, using the H-3 training visa. By putting the H-3 program in place Company D no longer had to rely on the B-1 business visitor visa, and the potential that a consular officer would think the proposed stay in the US was for too long of a period, for those employees being sent to the US for the longer training periods.

Company D now has three clear options for personnel coming to the US, without having to worry about the availability of H-1B visas:
  1. L-1 intra-company transferee visa for executives, managers, and specialized knowledge personnel (available for up to 5 or 7 years);

  2. H-3 training visa (good for up to 24 months in the training program); and

  3. B-1 business visitor for short term assignments (usually lasting less than 6 months).
It takes time to understand the business and develop successful immigration strategies, but the added effort produces solid results. Company D received approvals for every one of the 50 personnel whose application was filed by VisaPro under L-1, L Blanket and H-3 visas 2 year period – what more could any Company ask from their immigration attorney?

Our attorneys have the experience to review and analyze different scenarios and formulate strategies for success. Contact VisaPro to review your situation and discuss your options.