U.S. Work Visas Explained
There are different types of U.S. work visas you may qualify for, depending on your employment status. The work visas apply to employees who must enter the United States for their work on a temporary fixed period. The work visas enable you to stay in the U.S. for that fixed period of time—not permanently or indefinitely. Plus, the employer must first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and get it approved before contracting you for your services in this country.
Among the most common are for people in specialty occupations (H-1B), agricultural work (H-2A), special education visitors or trainees (H-3), artists/entertainers (P-2 and P-3), registered nurses (H-1C), and persons participating in international cultural exchange programs (q-1). The USCIS lists available work visas on its website. Alvarez Law can advise you throughout your visa application process.
Common U.S. Work Visas
These are nonimmigrant visas with specific guidelines and eligibility rules.
- H-1B: If you are considered a specialty worker, you are someone with a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent in your country) in the field in which the work will be performed. There are specific specialty occupations in the U.S., and they require the H-1B visa. Those jobs include those in biotechnology, chemistry, social sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science), architecture, engineering, law, accounting, and mathematics.
There is a limit on the number of available H-1B petitions every year so prepare for competition. To secure this U.S. work visa, you must file a Labor Condition Application with the United States Department of Labor. The employer has certain employment conditions to satisfy, most important being payment of the prevailing wage for the position. Your application will then go to USCIS with relevant documentation.
Our immigration lawyers can explain other matters related to this work visa, such as what happens when you are no longer employed by the sponsoring company.
- L-1: For international companies that also have offices in the U.S., employees must use the L-1 work visa. This is for foreign workers who relocate to the U.S. office from an overseas office. To qualify for this type of work visa, you must have worked for the company for at least one continuous year in the past three years before being admitted to the United States. The L-1 authorizes foreign workers to work in managerial or executive positions or positions that meet specialized knowledge criteria. Your employer must meet certain criteria for the worker to qualify as well.
The time frame for which it is valid depends on your country of origin (with a maximum of seven years with extensions). The L-1 visa may be used towards obtaining a green card.
Contact The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC for a free case consultation.