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As the world’s largest economy, the United States is a magnet for workers worldwide, attracting those eager to take part in its robust labor market. The country’s sustained economic growth relies, in part, on the contributions of immigrants.
Foreign professionals considering a move to the U.S. can choose from various visa options. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most common U.S. work visas, shedding light on the specific requirements and unique attributes of each, to assist you in finding the path that best fits your career goals.
Temporary Non-Immigrant Visas
A temporary non-immigrant visa is designed for individuals seeking to work in the United States on a provisional basis. Typically, the prospective employer initiates the process by applying for this visa type with the USCIS. However, the employee must also apply for the visa before entering the United States.
Within the temporary non-immigrant category, there is a diverse array of visa types. Below, we’ll explore some of the more prominent non-immigrant work visas to help you understand the options available.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals who are considered to be highly skilled in specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s degree or higher. The residency cap for H-1B visas is 6 years, but there is an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, and the number of applications usually exceeds the cap.
To become eligible, you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and a bachelor’s degree. In addition, your employer needs to prove that there is no qualified applicant for this job in the United States.
For peak load or seasonal demand, there are H-2A and H2B visas. These visas are introduced for agriculture and non-agricultural demands. Usually, these visas are offered for a year with no extension. H-2A and H-2B visas are not only for peak load or seasonal demand. They can also be used for permanent jobs. However, the employer must show that there is a need for the worker to fill the position on a temporary basis.
H-3 visas are available for people who want to complete their training in the United States. Once they complete their training, they will pursue their careers outside the United States.
I visas are designated for foreign journalists and media professionals. To be eligible, your employing company must maintain a home office outside the United States. Professionals who can obtain this visa include not only reporters and editors but also various media crew members. Furthermore, individuals associated with film, radio, and print media may also apply for this visa.
Uniquely, this visa often has no specific duration limit, provided you continue working for the same employer, making it a flexible option for those in the media industry.
Employers seeking to transfer their employees to the United States may apply for an L-1 visa. This visa category has two main types: the L-1B for individuals with specialized knowledge and the L-1A for managers and executives. Both types initially grant a duration of three years, with the possibility of extending up to five years for L-1B and seven years for L-1A.
Additionally, spouses and unmarried children of L-1 visa holders may accompany them to the United States under an L2 visa, enhancing the options for families during the period of employment in the country.Foreign workers who want to move to the United States have a range of visa options. In this guide, we will explore a few of the common types of U.S. work visas. Moreover, we will highlight the requirements of each visa.Click To Tweet
People with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics can apply for an O-1 visa. This visa is also available for the spouses and children of O-1 visa holders. To qualify for an O-1 visa, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim or a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry.
Religious workers who are members of a recognized religious group may qualify for specific visas allowing them to work in the United States. To be eligible, the affiliated religious organization must hold non-profit status within the country. These visas are designed for religious workers who intend to come to the United States to further their spiritual mission and contribute to the non-profit cause. Whether engaged in clerical roles, missionary activities, or other religious functions, these visas provide a path for those committed to serving their faith and community while residing in the United States.
Athletes or artistic people who stand out in performance can apply for this visa. This visa can be extended to people who accompany the performer. Usually, these events are available for events.
TN visas are introduced for specialized Mexican and Canadian citizens who want to get temporary entry to the U.S. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, they can be involved in business endeavors.
Permanent Immigrant Visas (Green Cards)
Annually, the United States issues approximately 140,000 employment-based Green Cards. To qualify for one, candidates must have the appropriate blend of skills, education, eligibility, and expertise. Most often, obtaining a Green Card requires a job offer from an employer certified by the U.S. Department of Labor. Meeting these criteria can pave the way for permanent residency, allowing individuals to work and live in the United States, and further align their careers with their long-term goals.
With strict eligibility criteria, the EB-1 visa has the quickest processing time. Moreover, it doesn’t require U.S.-based employer sponsorship. However, it is designed only for those who excel in their fields. Hence, a small percentage of candidates meet the conditions of this visa.
EB-2 visas are the second priority and are designed for people who have advanced degrees or proven work experience. Similar to EB-1, this visa also avoids the PERM Labor Certification criteria.
This visa type is designed for a wide range of applicants including skilled and unskilled workers. However, you have to meet the PERM Labor Certification criteria to become eligible.
The Bottom Line
The United States requires a continuous flow of immigrants to maintain its economy. Hence, there are a number of employment-based visas that allow you to move to the U.S. The above-listed visas are the most popular options for work in Canada. Choose the best visa type for you and consult with an immigration lawyer. They will be able to guide you regarding how to make the next move. Best of luck!
Richard Herman is a nationally renowned immigration lawyer, author, and activist. He has dedicated his life to advocating for immigrants and helping change the conversation on immigration. He is the founder of the Herman Legal Group, an immigration law firm launched in 1995 and recognized in U.S. World News & Report’s “Best Law Firms in America.” He is the co-author of the acclaimed book, Immigrant, Inc. —Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). Richard’s poignant commentary has been sought out by many national media outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Forbes, FOX News (The O’Reilly Factor), National Public Radio, Inc., National Lawyers Weekly, PC World, Computerworld, CIO, TechCrunch, Washington Times, San Francisco Chronicle and InformationWeek.