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US Work Visas: Which One Should I Apply For?
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There are many types of work permits, each with specific requirements as to type of position, type of employer, duration, etc. One of the most important steps in the visa application process is to determine what category/ies may be the most suitable, considering the nature of the position, your background and goals, and other factors. Given below are some common positions and the appropriate visa categories for those positions.

Chefs and Hospitality Management positions
Chefs and Cooks
Hospitality Management
Nurses
Medical Doctors
Computer Positions
Marketing Positions
Translators
Designers
Fashion Models
Athletes and Entertainers
Accountant and Taxation consultants
Agricultural workers
Architect
Au pair or Nanny
Chemists
Economists
Hockey Instructor / Football Coach / Ski Instructor
Lawyers
Teacher / Professor / Research Assistant / Scientist
Religious Workers



Chefs and Hospitality Management positions

The USCIS is inconsistent in classifying chef and hospitality management positions and workers as specialist or professional. Some visas are approved for foreign nationals to work in large restaurants and hotels that would be denied for their counterparts in smaller establishments.

For example, an H-1B visa may be approved for a chef to work at a five-star restaurant but not for an upcoming restaurant with a two star rating. As a result, these professionals often must use B-1, E-2, H-2B, H-3, J-1, L-1, O-1, Q-1, or TN visas or permanent resident status to work in the U.S.

Chefs and hospitality management professionals can, depending on the specific facts, use almost all of the nonimmigrant work visas. This distinguishes these occupations from others that are more limited to specific visa categories.



Chefs and Cooks

It is important for petitioners to accurately describe cook and chef positions, as the Department of Labor (DOL) publications distinguish between the two positions. In general, chefs have more managerial responsibilities than do cooks, who primarily prepare food.

E-2 visa: Chefs holding managerial or specialist positions may be issued E-2 visas to work for a qualified E-2 enterprise. For example, a large Japanese-owned restaurant chain such as Benihana may employ a number of Japanese chefs using E-2 visas. A small E-2 qualified restaurant also may justify employment of a chef in a managerial or specialist position. Chefs who start their own restaurants are often eligible for E-2 status as principal investors.

H-1B visa: In the past, the USCIS has held that chefs were not professionals or specialists. However, practice shows chefs employed by large hotels and prestigious restaurants may be granted H-1B visas. Usually, the foreign national must be primarily engaged in management duties as opposed to working in front of a stove. Expert testimony from a culinary professor or hospitality management academician is often needed to prove that the position is so complex that it requires a person degreed in culinary arts.

H-2B visa: Chefs may qualify for temporary positions during a busy season—for example, the employer is a ski resort and the position is for the winter season. Once the employer proves the position is temporary or seasonal the employer will be barred from sponsoring the foreign national for a permanent labor certification for that position.

J-1 visa: A young cook seeking exposure to how a restaurant operates in the U.S. may obtain a J-1 industrial trainee visa for up to 18 months. Many organizations have J-1 programs specifically accredited for training in the culinary arts.

L-1 visa: Chefs with management responsibilities employed by multinational companies should be eligible for L-1A visas. It is also possible that a specialized knowledge chef or cook could obtain an L-1B visa. For example, an international airline catering company may have unique processes, technologies, and procedures for preparing their food and delivering it to airplanes such that an employee with specialized knowledge is necessary.

O-1 visa: O-1 visas are available for chefs of extraordinary ability. Extensive evidence is required to show that the chef is a culinary artist of ‘distinction’ who is ‘renowned, leading, or well-known’ in the field.

TN visa: Chefs are not included in the NAFTA Schedule of Professionals. Some chefs, however, may work from time to time as management consultants to advise on the design, building, opening, and advertising of new restaurants, as well as the menu planning. In this situation, a management consultant TN visa may be granted to a Canadian or Mexican chef.

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