In previous posts, we've discussed how many state and federal lawmakers are seeking to introduce significant changes to U.S. immigration laws so as to afford more immigrant entrepreneurs the opportunity to live, work and create jobs here in America.
In the meantime, many businesspeople -- particularly computer specialists and technologists -- are increasingly turning to visa categories that the federal government has created for "individuals with extraordinary ability."
Specifically, they are applying for -- and securing -- the following so-called "genius visas" in greater numbers:
- O-1 visas: These are work-based visas available to people who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, education and athletic fields of endeavor. The O-1 visa enables recipients to come to the U.S. for up to three years and may be extended
- EB-1 visas: These are also work-based visas available to remarkable professors/researchers, multinational executives and people who have demonstrated extraordinary ability. The EB-1 can result in a green card and permanent residency
Why then are so many businesspeople seeking these genius visas?
The main reason is that they are more readily available than the H-1B visa, which permits U.S. employers to temporarily hire workers in certain specialized fields. Specifically, H1-B visas have an annual cap of 85,000 that is usually depleted fairly early in the year, while EB-1 visas have an annual cap of 40,000 that is rarely met and O-1 visas currently have no cap whatsoever.
Another reason why so many businesspeople may be seeking O-1 visas and EB-1 visas is that they are not exceedingly difficult to secure.
Here, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines extraordinary ability as "sustained national or international acclaim." This standard can often be satisfied with something as simple as awards and/or letters from eminent names in a given field, something these businesspeople frequently have in great numbers.
Finally, another reason why more businesspeople may be seeking these visas is that they are not politically controversial. Specifically, the H-1B visa program has encountered significant opposition from union groups and other worker advocacy groups who claim it takes away jobs from U.S. workers by bringing in lower-skilled labor.
"The O-1 is one of the few visas we support," said Kim Berry, a spokesperson for the Programmers Guild, a group supportive of efforts to suspend the H-1B program. "When they need to bring in the best and the brightest and the entrepreneurs, that's the only visa that helps America."
It should come as no surprise then to see the number of applications for O-1 visas and EB-1 visas grow over the next few years ...
Stay tuned for updates from our Los Angeles County immigration law blog ...
Due to the continued complexity of U.S. immigration laws with respect to naturalization and the exposure to facing a denial of this petition, it is critical to speak with a legal professional who has extensive specialized knowledge and experience in immigration law.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Reuters, "U.S. 'genius' visa attracts entrepreneurs and Playmates," Sarah McBride, June 29, 2012