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Less Common Visa Categories

TN Mexican and Canadian

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 to come to the U.S. to engage in specified professional activities under the provisions of the NAFTA Treaty that require at least a baccalaureate (bachelor's) degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.

Canadian Citizens

A visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional. 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.

Mexican Citizens

Mexican citizens need a visa to request admission to the United States, but no longer need petition approval and no longer have to file a labor condition application. As a NAFTA Professional worker, Mexican citizens are no longer subject to numerical limitation.

Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for most visa applicants. Interviews are generally by appointment only. As part of the visa interview, a quick, two-digit, ink-free fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections, it can be considerably longer.

For detailed information about additional documentation and qualifying requirements, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

E-3 Australian

E-3 is a visa status only available to Australian citizens to work temporarily in specialty occupations in the U.S.  The specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in a professional field and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the U.S.

An individual cannot self-sponsor in this category. Employer sponsorship is required, and E-3 status is employer specific.

There is no cumulative time limit on E-3. In general, it can be renewed every two years, with some exceptions, provided that the stay remains temporary in nature.

Similar to the H-1B application process, the E-3 application requires a prevailing wage determination, certification of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) by the Department of Labor (DOL), and a petition filed with USCIS.  The processing timeframe is comparable to the H-1B application. Please see the H-1B Temporary Specialty Occupation page for additional information on the application process and timeframe that is also applicable to E-3 visa status.

Extensions can either be applied for at a consulate abroad or through a petition filed with USCIS.  Employees holding E-3 status can file for a change of employer under the portability clause provided the new employer files a new LCA and new E-3 petition with USCIS.

E-3 offers the advantage for spouses of E-3 recipients to apply for work authorization.

O-1 Individuals

The O-1 classification is used occasionally for the small percentage of foreign national scholars who have extraordinary ability in science, art, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation. Extraordinary ability is a high level of expertise and indicates that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field. The foreign national must seek to enter the United States to continue work in the area in which he or she is extraordinary. 

Sponsorship

A foreign national cannot self-sponsor in this category. Employer sponsorship is required and O-1 status is employer specific.

There is no limit to the time an individual can hold O-1 status. The first petition can request up to three years. Thereafter, USCIS will adjudicate the extension, with updated documentation, and determine the time necessary to accomplish the initial event or activity in increments of up to one year.

Eligibility

The O-1 petition needs to demonstrate extraordinary ability by documenting at least three of the following:

  • Evidence of major international prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field;

  • Membership in associations in the academic field which requires outstanding achievements of their members;

  • Published material written by others in professional publications and major newspapers/media about the scholar's work in the academic field;

  • Evidence of participation as the judge of the work of others, either individually or on a panel, in the same, or an allied, academic field. This includes peer review for academic journals;

  • Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions of major significance in the academic field;

  • Evidence of the scholar's authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals or major media with international circulation in the academic field;

  • Employment in a critical capacity for organizations and institutions that have a distinguished reputation in the field.

The petition must also include at least 5 letters of support from senior people in the field of specialization outside of ASU attesting to the scholar's demonstrated extraordinary ability, and highlighting significant contributions to the field.

Foreign nationals subject to the 212e Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement are eligible for the O-1 classification, but they cannot change from J-1 to O-1 status within the U.S. They must apply for the O-1 visa abroad and re-enter the U.S.

Application Process

Begin the process six months before the intended O-1 start date or as soon as possible within that window.