Which Employment Visa is Right For Me?

If you are interested in applying for an employment visa, you need to be aware of the several types of visas that are available so you can determine which one is right for you. The employment visas can differ on the length of stay, the industry you are working, and your educational or specialty training qualifications. Most of the employment visas are very specific in their qualifications. To help you with this process, speak to an immigration attorney for more information and to schedule a consultation.

Typically, to obtain an employment visa, you must have an employment offer form a specific company. Most employment visas are nonimmigrant visas that require an employer sponsorship. The employer must file on behalf of the prospective employee for the desired visa. In some cases, it is necessary for the US Department of Labor to require proof that the foreign national will not displace any US workers. Immigrant visas also require sponsorship. Immigrant visas can be limited to certain fields, have specific quotas, skill requirements, education requirements, and have per-country caps.

Employment visas can be issued to people who are currently living outside the United States, and they can also be issued to current legal immigrants who wish to change their status within the United States.

H Visas

H visas are popular employment visas because they have a longer initial period of stay than other visas. There are four types of H visas which include the H-1B, H-2A and H-2B, H-3, and H-4 visas. If you are applying for an employment visa, you must file your request with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Each H visa has its own application.

The H-1B visa is for temporary workers who are pursuing a “specialty occupation” within the US. For the position to be considered a specialty occupation, it requires that you have higher education or special training compared to other workers. This can be an extremely competitive visa, as many people apply for it; nonetheless, only 65,000 of them are approved each year.

The H-2A and H-2B visas are for those who plan to take seasonal, temporary jobs. Whether you apply for the H-2A or H-2B visa will depend on what type of labor you plan to work in. Those who will be working in agriculture can apply for the H-2A, while those seeking other labor types can apply to the H-2B.

If you are pursuing special training in the US (excluding graduate medical education or training), you can apply to get an H-3 visa. You can only qualify for this visa if the type of education or training that you are seeking is not available in your home country.

The H-4 visa is for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of H visa holders. This is usually for the family members of those who have an H-1B visa.

Employment-Based (EB) Visas

There are five different preference categories of employment-based visas. Each category has its own criteria and qualifications that an applicant must meet. The EB-1 visa is for foreign nationals who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field, whether the sciences, the arts, education, business, or athletics. Extraordinary ability is normally proven through showing evidence of “sustained national or international acclaim.” You may also be eligible for an EB-1 visa if you are an outstanding professor or researcher, and you can demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. Lastly, you could qualify for an EB-1 visa if you are a multinational executive or manager.

The EB-2 visa is for those who are members of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or for those have exceptional abilities. Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” You can also seek a national interest waiver and self-petition without an employer sponsoring you, if you can demonstrate that you have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business and if you can demonstrate that employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation.

The EB-3 is for those who are skilled workers, professionals, or other workers. “Skilled workers” are people whose job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature. “Professionals” are people whose job requires at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent and are a member of the professions. The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

The EB-4 is for “special immigrants.” Special immigrants are religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, broadcasters, G-4 international organization or NATO-6 employees and their family members, international employees of the U.S. government abroad, armed forces members, panama canal zone employees, certain physicians, Afghan and Iraqi translators, and Afghan and Iraqi nationals who have provided faith service in support of U.S. operations.

The EB-5 visa is for foreign investors who invest money into an American business with the intent of creating new jobs for American workers. The EB-5 is very different from other employment visas because it has very little qualifications, and it allows for the applicant to seek permanent residency.

O Visas

O visas are for those who have outstanding skills in specific fields. The O-1A if for those who work in the sciences, education, business, or athletic fields. The O-1B is for those who work in film or television. An O-2 visa if for assistants or people who must accompany an O-1 visa holder to help them complete their work. The O-3 is for spouses and unmarried children under 21 of O visa holders. O visas can be issued relatively quickly, and they have no limit on the maximum amount of time you can stay.

L Visas

L visas are highly desirable because they allow applicants to live and work in the US for a longer period of time. L1-A visas are for executives or managers who are transferring from an overseas parent company, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch company. This visa can also be used for executives who are coming to the US to establish a new office if one does not currently exist. The L1-B visa is for the transfer of an employee with specialized knowledge to a US branch. L-2 visas are for the spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L visa holders.

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