There are several types of visas that allow people from foreign countries to work in the United States. To obtain one of these visas, the applicant typically must have an employment offer from a specific company, as generic work visas are not available. These employment visas can be granted to people who are currently living outside the U.S., and people living in the country can change their legal immigration status with support from their would-be employer.
It is important to understand the different types of employment visas available and the benefits and restrictions of each before applying for such a visa.
There are four types of H visas available to foreign nationals. All the se employment visa requests must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department, and each carries its own application paperwork.
The H-1B visa applies to temporary workers pursuing what are classified as “specialty occupations” within the U.S. People who qualify for these visas typically have higher levels of education and special training compared to other workers and can be extremely competitive. There are only 65,000 H1B visas approved each year.
The H-2A and H-2B visas apply to people who plan to take seasonal, temporary jobs in various types of labor, including agriculture. Those who will work in agriculture can apply for an H-2A visa, while other labor employees would apply for an H-2B visa.
People who are pursuing special training in the U.S., excluding graduate medical education or training, can apply for an H-3 visa. This type of visa must be used for a type of education or training that does not exist in the applicant’s home country.
Finally, the H-4 visa can be used by spouses and unmarried children under age 21 of other H visa holders, primarily those who obtain an H-1B visa. H-4 visa holders face certain work restrictions while they are in the U.S., but they can convert their status to other types of visas if they qualify later on during their stay in the U.S.
L visas allow applicants to live and work in the U.S. for a longer period of time, making them highly desirable. There are three types of L visas available, and each application must be filed with USCIS.
L1-A visas allows a parent company, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch of companies based in the U.S. to transfer one of its executives or managers from an overseas office to one in the U.S. It can also be used to transfer executives for the purpose of establishing an office in the country if one does not currently exist. The business must be functional during the employee’s stay in the U.S., and evidence that sufficient office space has been secured is required as well. Employees traveling under an L1-A visa must have been working for their employer for at least one of the last three years, and the U.S. office must be able to support an executive employee within one-year of the visa’s approval. Employees are approved to stay in the U.S. for between one and three years, depending on the nature of their stay.
Similar to L1-A visas, an L1-B visa can be used to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge to a branch in the U.S. The employee can also be sent to establish operations in the U.S. for their company. The employer must be able to prove that the employee has specialized knowledge requiring them to be in the U.S. for an extended period of time and that the company will be providing services or producing or selling products in order to qualify.
Employees, meanwhile, must have worked for the company for one of the last three years. L1-B visas are valid for between one and five years.
Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 whose family member has received an L1 visa can apply for an L-2 visa to accompany them to the U.S. They remain valid for the same period of time as the L1 visa and allow the recipients to work or study in the U.S. during their stay. L-2 visa holders may also apply for permanent legal resident status.
There are five tiers of employment or employment visas issued each year. Each tier has its own criteria that applicants must meet in order to qualify. The visas range from an EB-1 to an EB-5 class and apply to different types of workers.
EB-1 visas have three sub-tiers and generally apply to people who are recognized as industry experts or highly-skilled professors, while EB-2 visas are designed for people who have advanced degrees and special skills. EB-3 visas are typically given to skilled workers holding bachelor’s degrees, EB-4 visas apply to priests and other religious workers who would like to live in the U.S. permanently, and EB-5 visas can be obtained by investors who can improve the economy through job creation. Some of these visas, such as the EB-2, require sponsorship from an employer, while others do not. Check with an immigration lawyer to determine which of the employment visas is right for you.
Similar to EB visas, O visas apply to individuals with outstanding skills in specific fields. The O-1A visa can be given to people in the sciences, education, business, or athletics fields, while O-1B visas can be given to people involved in film or television. O-2 visas apply to people who must accompany an O-1 visa holder to help them complete their work and who have special skills or knowledge that the O-1 holder cannot find in the U.S.
Finally, an O-3 visa allows spouses and unmarried children under 21 of O-1 and O-2 visa holders to accompany their family member to the U.S.
Finally, TN visas can be given to individuals who live in Mexico or Canada and who are moving to the U.S. to perform specific services. These people typically work in professions or have special skills that meet the professional requirements for fields listed on Schedule 2 of NAFTA. These visas are valid for a maximum of three years but can be extended further in three-year increments. TN visas may be used to extend H-1 and L status visas as well.
Speak To An Immigration Attorney
Applying for a employment visa may not be as straightforward as many people expect. That’s why it can be helpful to consult an experienced attorney during the application process. Johnson & Masumi’s immigration attorneys have years of experience in assisting people obtain their employment visas and can also help with a variety of other immigration-related cases, including student visas, fiance visas, naturalization and citizenship, deportation proceedings, permanent residency, and more. Call Johnson & Masumi today to schedule a consultation and receive more information about how to obtain any of the employment visas.