Continuing in this series of the top 10 FAQs that UKTI receives, we’ll explore the next topic of UK/US trade:
Whether you’re employed by an American company, starting to explore the United States market by sending an employee for business or if you’ve already established a U.S. presence and are looking to employ staff, foreigners coming to the U.S. for business purposes will likely require a U.S. visa.
In the first instance, UKTI highly recommends contacting a licensed attorney for guidance, as each situation is unique and may require review on a case-by-case basis to ensure compliance. The U.S. Embassy website has a list of U.S. attorneys based in the UK who specialise in a variety of areas and can be accessed at the following link – (or PDF). The American Bar Association (ABA) website also provides extensive lists of law firms where you can search by geography, area of practice or just browse the list of law firms to search for ABA certified lawyers by state and by specialty. Lawyer search tool included here.
The U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. Below is the contact information and the visa services website from the U.S. Embassy London. Please ensure to gather the most accurate information from this website, as fees and deadlines can often change without notice.
United States Embassy
24 Grosvenor Square
London, England W1K 1AE
Live Operator Assistance: 09042 450 100
Calls to this line are charged at 1.20 GBP per minute from BT landlines. Some mobile and network providers may charge more.
US Visas: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html
UKTI has partnered with a New York-based lawyer who specialises in immigration to produce a guide for UK businesses, focusing on topics such as work visas and permanent resident status. U.S. Immigration Options For British Companies can be downloaded from the UKTI USA Publications page and includes a comprehensive overview of U.S. visas and pre-requisites. A complete list can also be found on this USCIS Entrepreneur Visa Guide but some of the main visa categories are listed below:
-Permits professionals to be employed in the U.S. for up to six years
-Must be offered a position by an American company to be employed in a specialty occupation
-Must hold a relevant degree or equivalent
– Prerequisite is to obtain an approved Labor Condition Application by the U.S. Department of Labor
-Foreign national who has worked abroad for at least one of the three years prior to applying, in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity
-Employed by a U.S. parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company
-Best for entrepreneurs seeking to open a new U.S. business unconnected to any existing business abroad any existing
-50% shareholders must hold nationality of the Treaty Country
O & P Visa
-Pertains to occupational categories including artists, athletes, scientists and business people
Entering the United States without a visa:
UK Passport holders can enter the US through the waiver program by using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
-Must be a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country
-Must receive advance approval to travel to the United States
-Currently do not have a visitor’s visa
-Limited to 90 days
-Cannot extend or change status in the U.S.
-Have a return or onward ticket
Please visit the website to receive full details and requirements for ESTA:
These resources are intended as an initial guide to the various types of U.S. visa, but company and individual situations will differ and can be complex. Please visit the USCIS website for the most accurate information to date, in addition to consulting a qualified immigration lawyer.
Please see the UKTI USA Publications page for additional information regarding the US business environment.
Topics: Getting Started, Legislation & Regulation, and Operations