Last week we became members of Global Alliance of Hospitality Attorneys , this will allow us to serve our clients even better and offer solution to the ever changing global workforce that the hospitality industry is facing.
Whether transferring employees between international properties or employing management trainees, immigration is an integral part of the hospitality industry. The top seven visa types utilized by the hospitality industry are the J-1, H-3,H2B, L-1,E2, TN and H-1B. The following is a brief outline of each of these visa types:
This is also known as the nonimmigrant investor visa. It is a temporary category that is granted in two-year to five year increments with no limits on the number of extensions. In comparison, the H-2B is limited to 10 months with 3 extensions. The E-2 category is available to citizens of countries that have a treaty of trade or commerce with the U.S. such as the Holland, France and the UK The State Department does not require any specific size investment. Rather it says the business owner must invest a “substantial amount of capital” that generates “more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.”.
An E-2 allows European nationals to manage investments that are at least 50% Euro owned. The visa requires that the U.S. investment be substantial and generates a substantial income. While there are no hard and fast figures on what the minimum investment amount is, the USCIS generally require a business investment of $150,000 or more, but the investment amount depends on the nature of the business. For example, opening up a restaurant in downtown San Diego would require 500,000 dollars while opening up a Catering business firm may only require start up costs of $70,000. This is why there is no fixed figure on a minimum investment amount.
The E-2 investor must show that its return on investment is more than what is necessary to merely support the investor in the U.S. Another example illustrates how this works. An E-2 investor wishes to establish a French Bakery and will invest $35,000 to buy the equipment. He expects the Bakery to generate $60,000 in gross sales. This business would probably not qualify because the gross income generated would not be substantial. The Bakery would only generate enough money to support the investor.
Temporary nonimmigrant classifications that allow noncitizens to come to the United States to perform temporary or seasonal work that is nonagricultural (such as hospitality or resort work) if persons capable of performing such a service or labor cannot be found in this country. Up to 66,000 new visas are available each year in this category. The number has been reached increasingly earlier every year. In Fiscal Year 2007, the first half of the cap was reached 3 days before the year began and the second half was met 4 months before the period began. From March of 2005 through September of 2007, returning workers were exempt from counting toward that cap due to the lack of temporary workers. Congress is considering renewing this popular policy.
Employer’s need must be temporary: Visas are only authorized if the employer can demonstrate a “temporary” need, that is, less than one year, and that the need is either a “one-time occurrence,” a “seasonal need,” a “peakload need” or an “intermittent need.” The employer cannot use this category for permanent and long-term labor needs.
Employee’s intent must be temporary: The nonimmigrant worker must intend to return to his or her country upon expiration of his or her authorized stay. The worker may be required to prove ties to his or her home country.
For seasonal/temporary employment, there is the J-1 Summer Work/Travel Program, which allows foreign college or university students to work in the U.S. during their summer vacation.
This type of J-1 classification is valid for four months and allows the students to assist
companies in meeting current labor demands. In addition, the biggest benefit to this type of J-1 classification is that the foreign students can do any type of work for the company. It is not necessary for the work to be related to the student’s degree.
The Management Trainee J-1 visa classification is another viable option and is valid for twelve to eighteen months and considered relatively easy to obtain. The potential trainees must possess a post-secondary degree or professional certificate and one year of work experience in their occupational field from outside the U.S. Five years of work experience in their occupational field can also be used in place of the post-secondary degree or professional certificate.
The H3 has become a popular option for many of our Hotel clients and we use it for certain trainees that need advanced training that is NOT available in their home countries.
An application for an H-3 visa requires the prior filing with a BCIS service center of a petition by the foreign national’s prospective trainer on Form I-129 with an H Supplement, a training program including the names of the prospective trainees, and the proper filing fee. The petition may be filed for multiple trainees so long as they will be receiving the same training for the same period of time at the same location. Additionally, the petition must indicate the source of any remuneration received by the trainee and any benefits that will accrue to the petitioning organization for providing the training. The trainee must demonstrate nonimmigrant intent by having an unabandoned residence in a foreign country. There are no numerical limits on the number of H-3 petitions issued each year. H-3 visas are not based on college education.
Upon approval of the petition, an I-797 Notice of Action of approval is issued by the service center. The foreign national submits the I-797 approval notice to an American consulate abroad with Form DS-156 and, if necessary, the DS-157 and other forms required by the consulate to obtain an H-3 visa stamp. A foreign national in the United States may apply for change of status to H-3.
NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.
The Conditions for Professionals from Mexico and Canada to Work in the United States
* Applicant should be a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
* Profession must be on the NAFTA list; – Hotel Manager is a NAFTA category
* Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
* Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;
* Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession
Requirements for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. However, a Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and children would need a visa to enable the spouse and children to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder.
L-1 category is meant for aliens coming to the United States on temporary assignment for the same or an affiliated employer for which the alien worked abroad for at least one year within the proceeding three years. Many large hotel chanins have takes advantage of this visa to bring top executives to the US locations or workers with specialized skills. The alien must be employed in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or one involving specialized knowledge (L-1B). There is no annual limit on the number issued.
The family members of L-1 alien can come to the U.S. under L-2 category. However, they cannot engage in employment in the United States unless they change the status to a nonimmigrant category for which employment is allowed.
A U.S. employer or foreign employer (must have a legal business in the U.S.) seeking to transfer a qualifying employee of the same organization must file petition with USCIS.
Aliens coming to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability are classified under H-1B category.
A maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas are issued every year. The H-1B visa is issued for up to three years but may be extended for another three years. Individuals cannot apply for an H-1B visa to allow them to work in the US. The employer must petition for entry of the employee.
Specialty occupation is defined as an occupation, which requires:
* Theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and
* Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry
A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations.
We have processed H1B visas for Front Desk managers, food service managers, Chefs, Public Relations specialists, and Lodging Managers as well as other specialized positions.
The above referenced visas will allow Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants to hire any type of workers needed to support their operations in the US. Hotels often face shortage in skilled labor, a careful usage of the above 7 visas will ensure constant flow of workers. Through our membership in the Global Alliance of Hospitality Attorneys, we will continue to offer our clients superior service.