RELOCATION TO THE USA
Each year many families from the United Kingdom and Ireland relocate to the USA, and in particular to Florida on either a temporary or a permanent basis. They are attracted by the lifestyle and the relative inexpensive cost of property, when compared to prevailing property prices in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
In order to reside in the USA, you will require either a visa or a permanent resident card, commonly known as a “Green Card”.
There are many different types of visas available and the appropriate visa will depend on the attributes of the potential immigrant. Some visas are dependent on the applicant’s education and work experience, whilst others will hinge on the amount of investment being made by the individual. Usually, there will be some type of visa for which the applicant can be considered.
We will focus on three different types of visas here in this article, the intra-company transfer (L-), the investor (E-2) and the specialty worker (H1B).
L-1 – Temporary Work Visa
An employer in the United Kingdom wishes to transfer an employee to the USA to an existing operation, or to establish a new US subsidiary, then an L-1 visa may be obtained. The UK employer may be either a U.S. or foreign organization. The employee (who is the intending transferee) must be employed at a managerial or an executive level, or have specialized knowledge and be destined to a position within the U.S. company at either of these levels, although not necessarily in the same position as held previously. In addition, the employee must have been employed outside the U.S. with the international company continuously for one year within the three years preceding the application for admission into the United States. An L-1 visa is also the appropriate visa classification for a qualified employee of an international company who is coming to the United States to establish a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary in the United States, i.e. commence business. Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 can apply for derivative L-2 visas. Spouses may seek employment authorization on derivative L-2 visas once they physically arrive in the USA.
E-2 – TREATY INVESTORS
A national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation (both the United Kingdom & Ireland meet this criteria) who wishes to go to the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested; or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital, may qualify for a nonimmigrant Treaty Investor visa.
The following criteria must be fulfilled:
- The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country;
- The applicant has invested or is in the process of investing;
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed; and
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment;
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise;
- The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States;
- The applicant is in a position to “develop and direct” the enterprise
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 can apply for derivative E-2 visas. Spouses may seek employment authorization on derivative E-2 visas once they physically arrive in the USA.
Most applicants meet the above criteria by purchasing an existing business in the USA, which has a trading history, staff and business premises.
H – Temporary Work Visa
H-1B visa (specialty occupation) is required by an employee who is coming to the United States to perform services in a prearranged professional job. To qualify, the alien requires a bachelor’s or higher degree (or equivalent) in the specific specialty for which employment authorization is being sought. It is the responsibility of the USCIS to determine whether the employment constitutes a specialty occupation and whether the alien is qualified to perform the services. Before filing the petition, form I-129H, with the USCIS Service Center, the employer is required file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor concerning the terms and conditions of the contract of employment. Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 can apply for derivative E-2 visas.
This information has been prepared as informational only. It is general in nature and has been sourced from the US Embassy website at of October 17, 2006. You should consult with an immigration consultant or with the US Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) to review your individual circumstances and to determine the appropriate visa for your specific circumstances.
The following links may prove useful for intending applicants:
US Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: http://dublin.usembassy.gov
US Embassy, London, United Kingdom:http://www.usembassy.org.uk