Publications & Presentations
February 24, 2016
From Law360

by Allissa Wickham

When it comes to short-term projects in need of a skilled foreign worker, the "B-1 in lieu of H-1B" visa for business visitors may be a good option for immigration practitioners to have in their toolkits, but it shouldn't be used as a replacement for a typical H-1B visa, attorneys warn.

With only 65,000 H-1B visas provided under the cap each year — along with an additional 20,000 for people who have earned a master's degree or higher in the U.S. — employers must often get creative with how they bring skilled foreign workers into the country.

One option that hasn't gotten as much attention is the "B-1 in lieu of H-1B" visa, which takes advantage of B-1 visas for temporary business visitors, although attorneys say it isn't a replacement for a three-year H-1B visa and should only be used in specific situations.

"It's really designed for temporary visits to the United States for that foreign employee to perform professional-level services, remain employed by the foreign employer, [and] paid by the foreign employer — and then depart the United States after the term of stay is complete," said Jeffrey Bell of Polsinelli PC.

This visa might be used when a foreign company has an agreement with a U.S. company to provide certain services, or if a multinational company is involved, according to attorneys.

"Maybe the U.S. company is looking to build a facility in the United States and contracts with a foreign firm to provide some engineering oversight, for example, where perhaps a high-level engineering manager maybe would need to be on-site in the U.S. to help oversee the project for a short amount of time," he said.

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