Let’s discover together the U.S. visa type you should apply for.
Thinking about moving to the United States for work, but not sure which type of visa is the most suitable for you. Let’s discover together the U.S. visa type you should apply for.
The United States has a wide variety of work visas, ranging from those that are temporary to those that are more permanent. The length of validity for each U.S. work visa will depend on the type of work that you are travelling to do and the length of time it requires for your stay in order to perform it.
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What is a temporary work visa?
A temporary work visa to the U.S. is a type of visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for a limited amount of time for the purpose of performing certain types of work. Depending on the type of U.S. visa needed, applicants must meet specific requirements and follow certain procedures.
What are the types of the U.S. temporary work visa?
There are a variety of temporary work visas available to foreign nationals wishing to work in the United States. Depending on the individual’s country of origin and the type of job they wish to take up, different U.S. visa applications can be filed.
Some popular U.S. visa categories include the: H-1B, L-1, O-1 and E-3.
Let’s look at each category separately.
An H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant US visa that allows employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in the United States for specialized employment. It’s reserved for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent who are coming to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. These occupations include architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law and theology. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants 85,000 new H-1B visas each year through a lottery system.
The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant U.S. visa designed for companies doing business in the United States that need to transfer employees from their foreign offices to the U.S. headquarters or affiliate office. This type of visa is most commonly used by international companies transferring experienced personnel from abroad to an American branch office, allowing them to work in the U.S. as managers, executives, or employees with specialized knowledge (L-1A) in the same company for up to seven years. In some cases, spouses and dependents of L-1 visa holders may also apply for an L-2 visa and are then allowed to stay in the U.S. for an equivalent duration as the principal applicant.
The O-1 visa is a United States work visa issued to individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Individuals who qualify for an O-1 visa must demonstrate that they have achieved a significant level of success within their respective field through evidence such as awards and recognition from professional organizations, memberships in associations related to their field of expertise, publications about their accomplishments in professional journals or other major media outlets, or any other comparable material that proves their exceptional skills and talents.
The E-3 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, initiated by the Department of Homeland Security, which is designed to allow Australian citizens to enter the United States and work in a specialty occupation. This type of U.S. visa was created under the provisions of an agreement between the United States and Australia known as the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, or AUSFTA. In order to qualify for this special visa category, applicants must meet certain criteria, including having an offer of employment from a qualified U.S. employer that requires professional-level qualifications or special skills; have at least a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent education) or its equivalent in experience; and be able to demonstrate extensive knowledge and experience relating to their field of expertise.
In addition, there are more permanent work visas to the United States, that fall into the category of immigrant visas, such as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3.
The EB-1 visa priority worker category includes persons of extraordinary ability in science, art or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; multi-national company executives and managers who wish to transfer into their U.S. based affiliates and certain investors who show potential job creation through capital investments made into their new businesses within two years’ time frame after obtaining permanent residency status respectively.
The EB-2 visa is a type of immigrant visa that allows qualified foreign nationals to enter the United States and become permanent residents. This U.S. visa is for those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in their field. It also allows entry to individuals who are members of the professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability, as well as those who have a valid offer of employment in the United States that cannot be filled by an American worker.
The EB-3 visa is an employment-based U.S. visa that falls under the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. It allows foreign nationals to gain lawful permanent residency in the United States. The EB-3 category covers “professional workers,” which includes those who have a bachelor’s degree or more, as well as “skilled workers,” which includes those who have two years of experience in a particular job, and “other workers,” which includes those who can fill certain unskilled positions without displacing American citizens or other qualified foreign residents.
Now that you have a better understanding of each U.S. visa, let’s look at each visa’s requirements.
In addition to temporary U.S. work visas, there are also options to live and work in America long-term as a permanent resident of the United States. Below, are examples of some of the Employment-Based (EB) programs that allow skilled foreign workers and their families to receive a U.S. Permanent Resident Visa and Green Card.
U.S. Work Visa Requirements
Now that you have a better understanding of each U.S. visa, let’s look at each visa’s requirements.
H-1B Visa Requirements
In order to be eligible for the H-1B visa, a foreign worker must have:
- A job offer from a U.S. employer who will sponsor them for an H-1B visa
- At least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in work experience in the specific occupation they are applying for.
The employer must also pay the prevailing wage for that occupation as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor or be willing to pay a higher wage than required by law or industry standard.
Additionally, employers must submit evidence that they have sufficient financial resources and/or business plans to ensure payment of wages and benefits during their stay in the U.S., as well as provide proof that they have not displaced any U.S. workers during the recruitment process.
Furthermore, employers must show that hiring an H-1B worker will not adversely affect employment opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. citizens similarly employed in the same geographic area where the foreign worker will be employed. In cases where there is more than one applicant being considered for a given position, the employer must demonstrate compliance with equal opportunity laws which protect both foreign nationals and U.S. workers from discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin or age.
L-1 Visa Requirements
In order to be eligible for an L-1 visa, applicants must meet certain criteria and requirements, such as:
- The applicant must have worked for a qualifying foreign employer as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker for an uninterrupted period of at least one year within the previous three years prior to applying for the visa.
- The applicant’s role in the foreign company must be related to his/her work in the U.S., meaning that there must be some type of continuity between their job abroad and their intended employment in the U.S.
- The applicant must also demonstrate that they are being transferred to a U.S.-based branch or affiliate of the same organization, either as an employee or as a consultant.
- Applicants need to provide documentation about their employment such as tax forms or signed contracts verifying their current and past employment with the organization.
O-1 Visa Requirements
In order to be eligible for an O-1 visa, applicants must demonstrate that they possess extraordinary ability in their field. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines this as being “a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”. This can include things like having several awards or recognition from one’s peers and/or government entities. Additionally, applicants must provide evidence that they will be coming to the United States to continue working in their field at a high level and not just engage in routine activities or labor for hire purposes.
E-3 Visa Requirements
To be eligible for an E-3 visa, applicants must demonstrate that they have:
- A valid passport from Australia;
- An offer of employment in the U.S.;
- Qualifications for the job (a bachelor’s degree or higher, or other appropriate qualifications); and
- Specialized knowledge related to the job.
EB-1 Visa Requirements
In order for an individual seeking an EB-1 visa based on their status as an outstanding professor or researcher to meet the requirements for such a visa, he/she must be able to demonstrate at least three years of research experience and show that he/she has achieved international recognition as outstanding in his/her academic field.
Such proof may include evidence such as:
- Letters from current and former employers discussing their achievements related to research;
- Publications written by them about their area of research which were accepted for publication by peer review journals;
- Participation as a reviewer for other scholars’ works;
- Proof that they received grants from organizations within their professional community which reflect substantial contributions toward their field through research activities;
- And documentation showing that they have been invited to present lectures at conferences and events related to their area of expertise.
EB-2 Visa Requirements
To qualify for the EB-2 visa, an individual must demonstrate they possess one of these qualifications and must have an employer willing to sponsor them through the process.
- The advanced degree requirement requires applicants to hold a U.S. equivalent of a master’s degree or higher or a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of progressive work experience in their field.
- For those demonstrating exceptional ability in science, art, or business, applicants may qualify without having an advanced degree. This requires showing evidence such as expert opinions from professionals in the field, performance awards, salary history demonstrating high compensation for their services that was higher than what is normally paid to those with similar skills and experience in the same geographic area.
For both options, applicants must also provide evidence of their employer’s job offer and show they are able to perform the job duties they have been offered. Additionally, they must pass an immigration medical examination prior to filing for the EB-2 visa and any required background checks applicable to their specific country of origin as part of the application process.
EB-3 Visa Requirements
To qualify for an EB-3 visa, applicants must possess either specialized knowledge or training relevant to their field of occupation (for professionals), or two years of experience in their job position (for skilled workers) OR five years of experience in their job position (for other unskilled workers). Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they are either coming to the United States with an offer of employment from a U.S -based employer or have secured a valid labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor indicating that there are no qualified U.S citizens available to fill the position they are seeking employment in.
One additional requirement for all EB-3 applicants is that they must have sufficient funds available both for themselves and their immediate family members to cover living expenses until such time as they become employed and can provide for themselves independently. The required amount will depend upon where in the United States the applicant ultimately intends on settling; however, the minimum amount typically ranges between $10,000 – $20,000 USD depending on location and family size.
What is the process of getting a temporary U.S. work visa?
Generally, getting a temporary U.S. work visa begins with submitting an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Depending on the type of visa sought and the applicant’s particular circumstances, the application process may vary, but typically includes:
- Determining Eligibility: Every U.S. work visa requires applicants to meet certain criteria. For example, some require proof of a job offer from a U.S. employer, while others are based on special talents or investments in the U.S. economy. It is important for potential visa holders to understand their eligibility before applying.
- Applying for the Visa: After determining eligibility, individuals must complete and submit an appropriate form to USCIS along with other supporting documents such as passport photographs, birth certificate, financial documents, medical records and/or criminal background reports.
- Waiting for Approval: Once submitted, applications are subject to approval by USCIS which is typically done within 3-5 months. During this time period, it is important for applicants to remain patient and refrain from making any changes or updates which could delay approval further.
- Interview Preparation: In some cases, individuals may be required to attend an interview at their local USCIS office as part of the approval process. Being prepared ahead of time can help ensure that interviews go smoothly and result in a positive outcome.
- Receiving Approval: If approved by USCIS, individuals will receive confirmation via mail or email. At this point, they can begin making necessary travel arrangements and securing employment in accordance with their particular visa agreement terms and conditions.
If after reading this article, you feel overwhelmed, that’s okay. Consider hiring professionals to help you with your work visa to the United States. It might not only save you time, that you might instead have wasted on understanding which visa to choose, but also smooth the entire process of applying and finally receiving your desired visa in an adequate, headache-free timeframe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
The cost of a temporary U.S. work visa depends on the type and class of visa an individual needs to apply for. Generally, most U.S. visas require an application fee ($190 – $265) and a biometric service fee ($85). In addition, some visas may also require additional fees depending on their purpose such as petition fees or additional processing fees.
A temporary work visa, also known as a non-immigrant visa, is a US visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for a limited period of time to work in specific occupations. This type of visa generally requires pre-approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is typically issued for 6 months or less but can be extended up to two years depending on the occupation and employer.
If a person’s temporary US work visa expires, they must take immediate steps to avoid any potential legal or immigration consequences. Depending on their situation, the individual must either leave the country or find a way to obtain an extension or switch to another visa type that better suits their current needs.
Another option available is applying for an extension of stay with USCIS prior to their current visa’s expiration date. The application should be accompanied by evidence that demonstrates why the individual needs more time in order to complete their tasks on a temporary basis in the U.S. Depending on the type of estate and if it has been approved by USCIS, some individuals may even be able to apply after their visa has already expired but while they are still within the US.
A temporary work visa in the United States can last anywhere from weeks to several years, depending on the type of employment and the specific circumstances. H-1B visas are one of the most popular types of temporary work visas available in the U.S., allowing individuals with specialized skills or knowledge to come and work for an employer for up to six years.
The processing time for a temporary U.S. work visa will depend on the type of visa being applied for and the country in which it is being issued. Generally, processing times can range from one week to several months, depending on the complexity of the application. The U.S. Department of State estimates that most nonimmigrant visa applications take up to three weeks to process, although this time frame can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and availability of necessary paperwork. In some cases, it may take up to six months or longer for an application to be processed.
It is important to understand that if a U.S. work visa has expired, then the individual may be required to leave the United States. If a person’s work visa expires and they are unable to extend or renew it, they will have to depart from the United States. In some cases, individuals may be able to apply for a change of status while in the US; however, this must be done before their current work visa has expired.
If an individual fails to depart from the United States before their work visa has expired and they are still present in the country after it has lapsed, then they may face significant penalties and/or criminal charges. The individual can also become ineligible for any future U.S. visas and/or applications for entry into the United States. In addition, individuals who stay beyond their authorized period of stay may face fines up to $5,000 and could even be subjected to removal proceedings.
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