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When an Experienced Immigration Attorney Matters!

Non-Immigrant Visas
Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas are for those individuals that intend to come to the U.S. on a temporary basis for a specified amount of time.  With the exceptions of a few categories, most non-immigrant visa applicants must demonstrate that he or she does not have the intent to permanently reside in the U.S.  Because of fraudulent applications, the U.S. Consular Offices abroad are keen to identify and deny such applications.  All non-immigrant visa applicants are presumed to have immigrant intent. Therefore, it is up to the applicant to overcome the immigrant-intent presumption.  Often, this high level of inspection and qualification has adverse affects to qualified applicants. 

If you intend to file any visa application through the U.S. Consular Offices abroad, please contact the experienced Houston Immigration Consular Processing Attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham for assistance.  Below are some of the common non-immigrant visas categories in which the Houston Immigration Visa Lawyers have successfully assisted our clients.

  • B-1 Visitor for Business and B-2 Visitor for Pleasure Visas
  • - Foreign nationals who wish to come to the U.S. on a temporary basis to visit can either apply for a B-1 visitor for business visa or a B-2 visitor for pleasure visa.  Depending on the purpose of your trip, you can qualify for B-1, B-2, or both.  Be sure to contact the Houston B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visa Attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham to assist you overcoming the “immigrant intent” presumption by the U.S. Consular Offices. Our West Houston Visitor Visa Lawyers have assisted many clients to obtain approved B-1 and B-2 visas, even after an initial denial. 

  • E-1 Treaty Trader & E-2 Treaty Investor Visas
  • - Foreign nationals who wish to invest in the U.S. do not necessary need $1,000,000 as stated under employment-based fifth preference.  Investors can come to the U.S. and invest either as an E-1 Treaty Trader or an E-2 Treaty Investor visa.  To qualify as an E-1 or E-2 investor, the foreign national must (1) be a national that has a Friendship and Commerce Treaty or a Commerce and Navigation Treaty with the U.S., (2) invest a substantial amount of money in the U.S., (3) the investment must real and not “marginal” (the applicant must not rely on this investment as a means for a living); (4) the investment must have taken necessary actions and put such investment “at risk,” (5) the investor must control and manage his or her investment, and (6) the person must not have immigrant intent (though this is not often scrutinized).  The investor’s family can come to the U.S. and the spouse may work for any employer.  Children under 21 may attend U.S. schools and do not have to pay international student rate.  Further, the investor can remain in the U.S. indefinitely, so long as the investment is continuous and uninterrupted and other qualifications are met.  The experienced Houston E-1 Treaty Trader Immigration Attorneys and the Houston E-2 Treaty Investor Visas at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham have assisted clients from numerous countries to come and invest in the U.S.  Please give us a call should we be of any assistance to you.


  • E-3 Australian Specialty Worker Visas
  • - Because the number of temporary professional worker visas under H-1B is limited, Congress created a new visa category for temporary professional workers from Australia.  Like H-1B applicants, Australian professionals who are qualified under “specialty occupations” can come to the U.S. on E-3 Visas. “Specialty Occupation,” as defined under INA Section 214(i)(1), requires that the job embody a specialized area of knowledge and a bachelors degree or equivalent.  Also, similar to H-1B the employer must file a Labor Condition Application with the U.S. Department of labor prior to filing for the E-3 abroad.  Unlike H-1B, however, spouses of E-3 visa holders may work.  In addition, the E-3 application may be filed directly abroad at the U.S. Consular Office.  E-3 Visas are issued on a 2-year basis and can be renewed indefinitely, so long as the foreign national can demonstrate that he or she does not have the intent to permanently reside and work in the U.S.

  • F-1 & M-1 Student Visas

    - There are 2 types of students visas available for foreign nationals who wish to come to the U.S. to study.  F-1 Student Visas are for academic courses and M-1 Student Visas are for vocational courses.  The Houston F-1 Student Visa Attorneys and the M-1 Vocational Visa Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham will assist and guide you through the process of filing for an F-1 Visa or an M-1 Visa.  Specifically, depending on your needs, our Student Visa Lawyers regularly assist our clients in identifying a possible school that is approved by USCIS, contact the International Student Office, apply for enrollment and obtain an I-20 through the SEVIS system, and prepare and file the F-1 and M-1 Student Visas in U.S. Consulate Abroad.  If you are currently here in the U.S. under a different non-immigrant category, such as a B-2 visitor visa, our Houston Immigration Attorneys will assist you in changing your status to an F-1 or M-1 visa status.  Most importantly, our West Houston Student Visa attorneys will assist you in overcoming the presumption of immigrant intent and show that you do not have the intent to reside in the U.S. upon completion of your study.  Overcoming this presumption is the majority reason why USCIS and the U.S. Consular Offices abroad have regularly denied student visa applications. 

  • H-1B Temporary Specialty Worker Visas

    - Currently, there are only 65,000 visas available for specialty workers to come to the U.S. and work in a professional capacity.  Of the 65,000, 20,000 are reserved for applicants with Master’s Degrees or higher from U.S. Institutions, leaving 40,000 visas for other Specialty Occupation workers.  The USCIS often receives three times the number of applications over the number of visa available each year.  Therefore, the USCIS has created an electronic lottery system in which a computer randomly picks the applications. However, teachers are exempt from the lottery system and may apply for H-1B through the year. As stated above, a “Specialty Occupation” worker must have knowledge in a specialized area, such as an accountant, teacher, engineer, or mathematician, etc… In addition, the person must also have a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent.  Employers should be aware that the USCIS will reject and fine the employer if the employer files more than 1 application for any one potential employee.  The employee, however, may be sponsored by many employers on his own behalf.  One drawback of the H-1B is that the applicant’s spouse, H-4, cannot work.  On the other hand, unlike other non-immigrant visas, H-1B is considered a dual-purpose visa and does not have to show that the foreign national has the intent to depart the U.S.  An initial H-1B has authorization to stay in the U.S. for 3 years and a 3 year renewal, totaling 6 years.  Employers who wish to employ their H-1B on a permanent basis should file an immigrant petition for the employee as soon as applicable because it may take 3 to 4 years before the immigrant petition (I-140) is approved.  Once approved, the employees and their spouses may file for adjustment of status and obtain employment authorizations.

  • K-1 Fiancé Visa and K-3 Spouse Visas

    - K-1 is a non-immigrant visa in which a U.S. citizen may sponsor a fiancé to come to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married.  The U.S. citizen applicant must demonstrate that there is a bona-fide relationship and that the applicant must have met the beneficiary at least once.  Because of fraudulent applications, the USCIS will be very suspicious of relationships based on online-bride websites.  If approved, the K-1 Fiancé visa holder must get married with the sponsoring U.S. citizen spouse with 90 days from the date of arrival.  Failure to get marry within the 90 days, or marrying someone else other than the K-1 sponsor, is a violation of the visa requirement and the person will NOT be able to adjust status in the U.S. There may be some exceptions for those that are victims of crime or are victims of trafficking. Please contact the Houston K-1 Visa Attorneys and the Houston K-1 Fiancé Visa Lawyers at Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham for more information.

    A K-3 spousal visa allows the spouse of a U.S. Citizen to come to the U.S. and file for adjustment of status with the USCIS, rather than filing an immigrant visa petition abroad with the U.S. Consular Office.  The advantage is that the K-3 visa holder can come to the U.S. fairly quickly (compared to the immigrant visa application) and wait in the U.S. while the USCIS is adjudicating the adjustment of status application, which could take 1 year or more.  Further, the person can obtain employment authorization while waiting for the green card.  Most importantly, the visa holder can unite with his or her spouse much quicker than filing an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Consular Office. Contact the Houston K-3 Visa Lawyer and the Houston K-3 Spousal Visa Attorneys at Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham

  • L-1A & L-1B Intra-company Transferee

    - An employer may transfer managers, executives, and essential employees from the parent company, a subsidiary, or a sister company abroad to the U.S. under the L-1 Visas as Intra-company Transferees.  L-1A visas are dedicated to managers and executives and L-1B visas are available for essential employees who possess specialized knowledge of the company or industry.  L-1 Visa applicants must have worked for the foreign company at least 1 year within the past 3 years.  The U.S. employer can be an existing company or a start-up company.  In addition, the U.S. employer and the foreign company do not have to be within the same industry, so long as the skills are transferable.  L-1 Intra-company Transferee visas are available for an initial period of 3 years and two additional 2-year renewals for a total of 7 years.  Within these 7 years, the employer may sponsor the employee to permanently reside in the U.S.  Like H-1B, L-1 is a dual-purpose visa; and, thus, the employee does not have to show that he or she has the intent to depart the U.S.  An L-1 Visa for a start-up U.S. company is initially valid for 1 year, within such time, the transferring employees must show that he or she has successfully started the company and it is operational prior to filing for a renewal of the L-1 visa status.  In addition, the start-up employer must wait for at least 1 year subsequent to the employee’s arrival before it can file an immigrant petition on behalf of the L-1 visa holder.  To file for L-1 Intra-company Transfer, the Houston L-1A Visa Attorneys and the Houston L-1B Visa Lawyers will prepare a detailed package, identifying each issue and arguing how the employer and the employee is qualified for said visa.  Then, the application will be filed with the USCIS in the U.S.  Once approved, the USCIS will transfer to the U.S. Consular Office abroad to schedule an interview for the employee.

  • Blanket L Visas

    - Employers who have subsidiaries or affiliated companies abroad that regularly transfer executives and skilled workers into the U.S. should take advantage of Blanket L visas instead of filing individual L-1 Intra-company Transferee visa applications.  Blanket L visas are reserved for U.S. companies who (1) have annual income exceeding $25,000,000 per year in gross sales, (2) employ 1,000 employees or more, or (3) who received at least 10 L-1 Intra-company Transferee within the past year.  In addition, the employer must have been an existing U.S. company for at least 1 year.  The company must engage in commercial trading, sales, or services.  Finally, the employer must have at least 3 combined affiliates or subsidiaries, either in the U.S. or abroad.  All other requirements for L-1 remain the same, such as the employee’s qualifications and must have worked for the employer at least 1 year for the past 3 years.  Once the Blanket-L application is approved by USCIS in the United States, our Houston Blanket L Visa Attorneys will draft detailed L-1 Visa applications in which the employee will submit to the U.S. Consular abroad for processing.  Thus, Blanket L visas take away the requirement to individually file with the USCIS in the U.S. then have the application transferred to the U.S. Consular Office abroad. Our experienced Houston Blanket L Immigration Lawyers will assist you step-by-step in the application process saving the employer time and additional costs in filing individual L-1 applications.

  • O-1 Entertainers’, Athletes’, & Researchers’ Visas
  • - O-1 Visas apply to applicants who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or those that have achieved extraordinary awards and recognition in the motion picture and television industry.  O-1 Visas are approved for an initial 3-year period and can be renewed once a year for a 1-year period.  To qualify, the person must demonstrate that he or she has risen to the level of national or international recognition by providing evidence of some national or international award.  In lieu of such award, the applicant must have at least 3 of the following:

    1. Evidence of the applicant’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in his field;

    2. Evidence of the applicant’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;

    3. Evidence of the applicant’s membership in one or more associations in the field of classification, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;

    4. Evidence of the applicant’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in similar field of specialization of the classification;

    5. Evidence that the applicant has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or entities that have distinguished reputation;

    6. Evidence of published material in professional or major publication or major media about the individual, relating to the individual's work in the field for which classification is sought.  Such evidence must include the title, date, and author of the published material, and translation if necessary;

    7. Evidence of the applicant's authorship of scholarly articles, books, publications in the field of expertise, in professional journals, or other major media.

  • R-1 Religious Worker Visas

    - A religious worker, whether a minister, priest, monk, rabbi, or imam, can be sponsored to come and work in the U.S. for a non-profit organization designated by the State and the Internal Revenue Service.  The person must come to the U.S. and work under a Religious Vocation.  A Religious Vocation denotes that the person is devoting his or her life to the services of that denomination.  Although a lay person can be sponsored under R-1 Religious Worker Visas, the person will have to demonstrate that such work would relate to the spiritual aspect of the religion.  In addition, the person must have been a member of the denomination for at least 2 years prior to filing applications.  R-1 workers can come to the U.S. on a 3-year initial visa and can renew once for a 2 years extension, totaling 5 years. Within this 5 years period, the R-1 sponsoring organization may file an immigrant petition for the R-1 visa holder; other wise, the perosn must leave the U.S. for at least 1 year prior to returning under another R-1 visa or through other nonimmigrant visas. The experienced Houston R-1 Religious Worker Visa Attorneys and the Sugar Land R-1 Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham have previously assisted a number of religious groups in sponsoring religious workers.  Please contact our Houston R-1 Immigration Attorneys for more information.

  • T Visas Victims of Trafficking
  • - The purpose of the T-1 visa is to protect victims of human trafficking, the sex trade or forced labor, who are physically present in the U.S. due to such trafficking. Immediate family members of the principal applicants may be admitted to the U.S. by showing that they would suffer extreme hardship if they were not allowed to join the applicant. To qualify, the applicant must demonstrate that he/she is a victim of trafficking as stated above.  A victim that is 18 years of age or older must comply with law enforcement officials in prosecuting the perpetrator.  Children of trafficking victims qualify as “Age Out,” if the trafficking victim’s child turned 21 during the application process (i.e. the child still qualified as a dependent).  The T-Visa application may not be denied on the basis that the applicant is likely to be a “public charge,” and depends on government assistance.  If approved, the applicant will receive T Visa Status and remain in the U.S. for 4 years. 90 days prior to the expiration of the T-visa, trafficking victims may be able to file for adjustment of status to permanent residency and receive green cards.  Please contact the Houston T-Visa Trafficking Victim Attorneys and the Houston Extreme Hardship Waiver Lawyers at Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham

  • TN-1 – Canadian Temporary Professional Worker Visas

    TN-1 Visas are Treaty NAFTA visas created specifically for Canadians who qualified as a “Specialty Occupation” professional may obtain TN-1 status to work in the U.S.  The advantage of TN-1 visas is that there is no annual limit in the number of TN-1 visa.  In addition, the process is less burdensome and does not require months, or even years, such as H-1B and other categories.  An employer who desires to hire a Canadian under TN-1 can realistically expect the potential employee to start within weeks, if not days.  Recently, the USCIS has issued new regulations, which permit Canadians to obtain an initial 3-year TN-1 visa and a 3-year extension instead of 1 year (previously, TN-1 Visas are limited to only 1 year and a 1-year extension).  This change will save employers and Canadians time and costs in filing applications.  This change also positively affects employer’s ability to file for PERMs and I-140 immigrant petitions under employment-based for employees.  Please contact our Houston Canadian Visa Attorneys and our Houston TN-1 NAFTA Lawyers for more information in filing for a new TN-1 Visa application or renewing your TN-1 Visa status without leaving the U.S.

  • U Visas Victims of Crime
  • - The U visa was created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of October 2000. It is available to foreign nationals who (1) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse resulting from a wide range of criminal activity, and (2) must have been helpful, are being helpful or are likely to be helpful with the investigation or prosecution of the crime. The U visa provides eligible immigrants with authorized stay in the United States and employment authorization. The criminal activity must be one that is similar to the following and can be prosecuted either at the federal, state, or local level, including: prostitution; sexual exploitation; rape; torture; trafficking; incest; domestic violence; sexual assault; abusive sexual contact; female genital mutilation; have been held hostage or been kidnapped; peonage; involuntary servitude; slave trade; abduction; unlawful criminal restraint; false imprisonment; blackmail; extortion; manslaughter; murder; felonious assault; witness tampering; obstruction of justice; perjury; or attempt, the conspiracy or the solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes. If you feel that you or your relatives or friends have been a victim of a crime, irrespective of how the person entered the country (illegally, without inspection, or stowed-away), please do not hesitate to call the Houston U Visa Victims of Crime Attorneys or the Houston U-Visa Lawyers at 713-517-6645 or contact us online.


Immigration Law is a vast area of law and every situation is unique. You should NOT rely on the limited information on this general site in replacing a personal consultation with an experienced Houston Immigration Lawyer. There may be legal issues, depending on the facts and circumstances, in which you may not be aware. Please feel free to give us a call at 713-517-6645, or to contact us online, for more information. Call the Houston Immigration Attorneys and the Spring Houston Naturalization Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham today at 713-517-6645 or complete our Contact Form.