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Immigration Lawyers California

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When deciding if the H-1B visa best suits your requirements for working in California, please consider the following:

  • California’s San Francisco Bay Area ranks among the country’s top five metro areas for H-1B visa workers, with over 14,000 annual requests
  • The area has a high concentration of technology-related companies and occupations. Many of these businesses insist that H-1B visas are instrumental in competing for the best global talent that are needed to fill job shortages
  • Most H-1B visa applications require significant science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, greatly affecting the country’s technology industry

When considering one of the many technology positions offered in Silicon Valley and Bay Area, please consult one of our expert LAWIMM immigration attorneys to help you with your immigration to the Golden State’s own global center for technology.


Considering the range of small, developing start-ups to large-scale, multinational corporations in technology located in Silicon Valley and Bay Area, the L-1 visa is effective in enabling foreign workers to temporarily work for their employer’s California-based parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate office. Some of the most well-known corporations that sponsor L-1 visas include technology giants, mass media and entertainment conglomerates and telecommunications equipment companies. There are multiple requirements and criteria for L-1 visa applicants to consider.

There are two types of L-1 visas available for employees of qualified foreign companies:

  1. L-1A visas for employees in a managerial or executive capacity, effective for seven years, and
  2. L-1B visas for employees in a position requiring specialized knowledge, effective for five years

Both the U.S. employer and foreign employee are obligated to meet certain requirements in order for the employee to qualify for an L-1 visa. The first criteria is that the foreign employer and U.S.-based office are related as either:

  • Parent and subsidiary
  • Branch and headquarters, or
  • Affiliates

The second criteria is that the foreign employee must be:

  • Sponsored by their employer
  • Are managers, executives or have specialized knowledge, and
  • Worked abroad for their employer for one (1) year minimum out of previous three (3) years in a manager, executive or specialized knowledge position.

Managers are defined by the following:

  • Manages organization, department, subdivision, function or component of the organization
  • Supervises and controls work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees; manages an essential function within the organization, or department or subdivision of the organization
  • Has authority to hire and fire as well as other personnel actions

Executives are defined by the following criteria:

  • Directs management of organization or a major component or function of the organization
  • Establishes goal and policies of organization, component or function
  • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making
  • Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization

Specialized knowledge is defined as:

  • Special knowledge that is possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application to international markets, or an advanced knowledge or expertise in the organization’s process and procedures

If the individual is opening a new office in the United States, the petition must include evidence that the business is in the United States, and:

  • Has sufficient property to house the office
  • Currently, or upon the business being established, as a relationship with the foreign employer
  • Has the financial capacity to start doing business in the United States, which includes showing:
    • The amount of investment
    • The structure of organization in each business
    • The size and condition of the foreign employer’s finances
  • If the individual is petitioning as an L-1 manager or executive seeking to open a new office, the evidence must establish that the operation in the United States will support the individual’s position within one year’s time

If your company or a related entity are sponsoring your intra company transfer to a location in California, please consult one of our expert LAWIMM immigration attorneys to address concerns you may have regarding this complex visa.


California is home to a vibrant community of immigrants from across the world: as of 2015, it was the top U.S. state where legal permanent residents lived, with 19.9 percent of people in the U.S. granted lawful permanent residence. There are several ways to obtain Permanent Residence (or a “Green card”), each containing their own eligibility requirements. Our green card lawyers at LAWIMM will help you identify the best eligibility category for your situation and requirements and file your petition or application with the USCIS.

Below are the most common ways and criteria to obtain a green card.

  1. You may be eligible for a green card through family under the following conditions:
    • A close family member with U.S. citizenship can sponsor their spouses, children and siblings
    • Permanent Residents can sponsor their children under the age of 21, unmarried children who are 21 or older, or spouses
    • Citizens over 21 years of age can sponsor their parents.
    • U.S. Citizen siblings (brother/sister) can sponsor other sibling(s)
    Each category has a cap, with preference to spouses, single children under the age of 21, and the parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21. Married children and parents of children under the age of 21 do not have preference and may have to wait for years for a green card.
    Through family, you may be eligible to apply (for a Green Card) as a(n):
    • Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, if you are a:
      • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
      • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
      • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
    • Other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a lawful permanent resident under the family-based preference categories, if you are the
      • Family member of a U.S. citizen, meaning you are a:
        • Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old
        • Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
        • Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
      • Family member of a lawful permanent resident, meaning you are a:
        • Spouse of a lawful permanent resident
        • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident
        • Unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident of a U.S. citizen, and at least 21 years old (K-2 non-immigrant)
      • Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and were married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died
    • Violence Against Women Act self-petitioner: Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or parent of a U.S. citizen
    You may be eligible to bring your fiancé(e) to the United States on a fiancé(e) visa if you meet the following requirements:
    • You are a U.S. citizen
    • You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s admission to the United States on a K-1 non-immigrant visa
    • You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry (and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment), and
    • You and your fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the two-year period before you file your petition. You may request a waiver of this in-person meeting requirement if you can show that meeting in-person would:
      • Violate strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or
      • Result in extreme hardship to you, the U.S. citizen petitioner
    • Permission to work
      • After being admitted to the U.S. on a K-1 non-immigrant visa, your fiancé(e) may immediately apply for evidence of work authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. In this case, your fiancé(e)’s work authorization is valid for only 90 days after his or her entry into the U.S.
      • Your fiancé(e) may also apply for work authorization at the same time he or she applies for a Green Card. In this case, your fiancé(e) can file Form I-765 together with the Form I-485. In this case, your fiancé(e)’s work authorization is valid for one year and may be extended in one-year increments.
    If you are a U.S. citizen, your foreign spouse may be eligible for a K-3 visa if he or she:
    • Is married to you
    • Is the beneficiary of Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative that you filed for them); and
    • Seeks to enter the United States to await USCIS’s decision on Form I-130
    A child of your foreign spouse may be eligible for a K-4 visa if he or she is:
    • Under 21 years of age
    • Unmarried, and
    • The child of the K-3 visa applicant on whose behalf you filed for
  2. You may be eligible for a green card through employment if:
    • Your employer or prospective employer can sponsor you for permanent residence
    • You are a highly-skilled worker willing to take positions that cannot be filled by a U.S. citizen due to shortage of workers with your skill set
    • You plan to open a business in the U.S. that creates a certain number of jobs for U.S. citizens; this category has the lowest preference among work-based options
    Through employment, you may be eligible to apply if you:
    • Are a first preference immigrant worker, which means you:
      • Have extraordinary skills in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or
      • Are an outstanding professor or researcher, or
      • Are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria
    • Are a second preference immigrant worker, which means you:
      • Are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree, or
      • Have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, or
      • Are seeking a national interest waiver
    • Are a third preference immigrant worker, which means you are:
      • A skilled worker (your job requires a minimum of two years training or work experience), or
      • A professional (your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor's degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession), or
      • An unskilled worker (meaning you will perform unskilled labor requiring less than two years training or experience)
    • Are a physician (Physician National Interest Waiver) who agrees to work full-time in clinical practice in a designated underserved area for a set period of time and also meets other eligibility requirements
    • Have invested or are actively in the process of investing (Immigrant investor) at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees
    As a Special Immigrant, you may be eligible to apply as a
    • Religious worker: if you are a member of a religious denomination coming to work for a non-profit religious organization in the U.S.
    • Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ): if you are a child who has been abused, abandoned, or neglected by your parent and you have SIJ status
    • Afghan or Iraq national, if you:
      • Served as an Afghan or Iraqi translator for the U.S. government
      • Were employed by or for the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, for at least one year
      • Were an Afghan employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
    • International broadcaster: if you are coming to work as a member of the media in the U.S.
    • Employee of an international organization or family member or NATO-6 employee or family member, if you
      • Are a retired officer or employee of certain international organizations, or NATO and certain family members

Please consult one of our expert LAWIMM immigration attorneys to help address any concerns about your move to the Golden State’s colourful and dynamic community.

We provide the following Immigration Legal Services in California: