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Every legal system has areas of law that are of personal relevance for the individuals affected. Criminal law is not the only area that is – obviously – very relevant at a personal level, whether for perpetrators or victims. Family law, divorce law, and inheritance law, for example, also have a major impact on people’s personal relationships. But there is another area of law that can be “personal” for those affected (especially in the case of rejection or dismissal), and not that many people have a knowledge or awareness of this area. In the following, we discuss work visas and immigration law in the United States.

Differences between US work visas

Visa and entry requirements for the US – whether for personal or business/professional reasons – are often a source of uncertainty and unease among those concerned because of the varied and ever-changing rules involved. When entering the US, a distinction is to be made between “immigrant” and “non-immigrant” visas.

Immigrant visa:
The Green Card – officially known as a permanent residence card – is not a visa in the traditional sense. It entitles the holder to permanently reside in the US and practice a profession, and basically gives the holder the same rights as a US citizen (except the right to vote). The card is always valid for 10 years with no limits on the option to renew it. This means, however, that the holder of the Green Card is also subject to the obligations of a US citizen (especially in the area of tax liability). For this reason, it’s important to think carefully about whether you want to take the step toward getting a Green Card.

Non-immigrant visas:
Whether made on a purely personal or business/professional basis, applications for the various non-immigrant visas can be time-consuming and costly. Examples of visa categories include:

  • Work visa: H1-B
  • Investor visa: E-1
  • Intracompany visa (for employee secondments): L-1
  • Student visa: F-1
  • Visa for exchange visitor programs: J-1

Each visa application is always made for a specific applicant, i.e., a particular (natural) person. Precisely for this reason, every application is “personal” in nature. It is thus subject not only to purely pragmatic or factual criteria, but also in many cases to emotional criteria – especially in the event of rejection.

Take note of the extensive information required

Any application for a visa requires that the applicant provide information that is sometimes quite personal. Many applicants are either unaware of this or do not understand it, but it doesn’t change the fact that, without this information, their application for a US work visa is doomed to fail from the outset.
Missing information in the application can be submitted later in some cases, which naturally delays the processing of the application. False statements can result in the applicant landing on a “red list,” which precludes the approval of future visa applications – in other words, they can prevent entry into the US for years. This also applies to “normal” ESTA applications, since this process also always requires a truthful answer as to whether a visa application has previously been rejected.

Care and caution when preparing the application

For these reasons, care and caution are required when preparing and submitting a visa application, and the application should not be taken lightly by the applicant under any circumstances. The same applies when dealing with the appointed lawyer, as he or she can prepare and submit the application only to the extent that the applicant concerned provides the necessary information and documentation.

Work visa for sending employees to the US

Sending employees to the US is one factor in particular that puts setting up a US branch office behind schedule in many cases. This is because the scope and time required for handling US visa formalities are underestimated. It is absolutely crucial that the US visa regulations are taken seriously. A one-time anomaly, such as a refusal of entry, can have consequences for the company’s eligibility to obtain work visas for its employees for years to come.

The bottom line: Getting comprehensive advice in advance is extremely important

Our law firm provides comprehensive advice on all immigrant and non-immigrant categories, especially when applying for work visas, work permits, and Green Cards. It is important to consider the issue of visas ahead of time, especially if you are thinking of forming a company in the US. As complete documentation of company records is required for many types of visa, our corporate law and immigration law attorneys work hand in hand. This also applies to cases in which a labor certification must be applied for from the US Department of Labor. Due to this fact we can only strongly recommend that you seek professional legal assistance before applying for a US visa and while preparing the application for a suitable visa.

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Keep reading for more informative articles:

› Contract law in the US
› Visa and entry requirements for the US

We will be happy to advise you:

Moritz Schumann

Christian Burghart