Besides being a country where many people go for touristic purposes, the U.S is also a popular working destination. People from all over the world want to work in the U.S because of the high salaries and good working environments.
There are two ways through which you can go to the U.S for employment purposes:
- As a temporary employee
- As a sponsored/permanent employee
The temporary employees need a US nonimmigrant visa, while the sponsored employees need an Immigrant Visa. This article will cover all you need to know about being a temporary employee and getting the US to work visa.
What is the American Work Visa?
The Work Visa USA is used for people to go and work temporarily in the U.S. for a specified period of time. The period of time that you will be working should be noted in the employment contract or the visa application. This type of U.S visa does not allow individuals to work in the U.S indefinitely or permanently. Applicants need to fulfill a list of US visa requirements and submit the documents specified in the next sections of this article to be eligible to apply for a temporary work visa USA.
Work Visa USA Types
There are several types of US work visas depending on the purpose and the kind of work that you want to do.
Here are the types of US Temporary Work Visas:
- H1B visa: Person in Specialty Occupation. To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.
- H-1B1 visa: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional – Chile, Singapore. To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa.)
- H-2A visa: Temporary Agricultural Worker. For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
- H-2B visa: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker. For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
- H-3 visa: Trainee or Special Education visitor. To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.
- I visa: Representatives of Foreign Media. The visa allows journalists and those who work in the information or media sector to complete their work while in the U.S.
- L1 visa: Intracompany Transferee. To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge. Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years
- P-1 visa: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group. To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
- P-2 visa: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group). For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
- P-3 visa: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group). To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
- R-1 visa: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers. To help foreign nationals to come to the U.S and work in a religious organization. Only ministers and those who are directly tied to religious work are qualified.
- TN visa: NAFTA Workers. This visa allows lawyers, scientists, engineers, teachers from Canada to work in the US temporarily.
- O1 Visa: Visa for persons with extraordinary abilities. The O1 visa is for those who show expert knowledge in science, business, education, athletics, or art, including international recognition for their work.
Work Visa USA Qualifications
There are three preconditions that someone interested in obtaining a U.S work visa needs to fulfill before applying for it. If you do not meet even one of these conditions, the Embassy might deny your visa application. This will make you unable to travel to the U.S and work there. These preconditions are as follows:
Have a job offer in the U.S
You need to have applied for, and been accepted in a job position within the U.S in order to qualify for a work visa. That is because the U.S requires several documents from your employer before you start your visa application.
Approved petition by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
This requirement means that before you apply for a US work visa, your employer must file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS. This petition, otherwise known as an I-129 form is the most important document for you to get your work visa. When USCIS approves your employer’s petition, you can start applying for the visa. However, if your petition is approved, that does not necessarily mean that the U.S Embassy will automatically give you a work visa. Due to reasons that might remain at the discretion of the Embassy, you could be denied the work visa even if your USCIS petition is approved.
Labor certification approval by the Department of Labor (DOL)
Some of the work visas, more specifically the H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, and H-2B also require your employer to have a certification from DOL. Your employer should apply for the DOL on your behalf before even filing the petition with USCIS. The U.S government requires this certification as proof that U.S employers need foreign workers. They have to prove that they cannot fill those work positions with U.S employees. In addition, the certification is needed in order to ensure that temporary foreign workers are not having an impact on job opportunities for U.S citizens in a negative way.
US Work Visa Requirements
In addition to fulfilling the three qualifying preconditions, you will also need to have these documents:
- Valid passport – which needs to be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the U.S and an additional six months after you return
- US visa photo – which you need to upload when you fill out the online application form.
- The Receipt Number, which you can find on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (I-129 Form) which your employer filed.
- A confirmation page that you have completed your Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160 Form).
- Receipt that proves that you have paid the application fee. For US work visas, the application fee is $190. There might also be additional fees that apply to your location, so you should check with your local U.S Embassy about more details.
- Proof that you will return to your home country after your work in the U.S ends. This applies to all types of work visas with the exception of the H-1B and the L visa. Examples of how you can prove you will return from the U.S include the following:
- Submitting your economic situation
- Your family relationships
- Any long term plans you might have
- Residence that you plan on returning to
- For those applying for an L Visa, you will also need to have a filled I-129S form (Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition). You should bring this form with you when you have your visa interview.
Besides these general requirements, which apply to all those who want to get a U.S work visa, there might also be other documents that you need to submit. You should contact your local U.S Embassy for more detailed information.
Work Visa USA Application Procedures
If you have fulfilled the three prequalifying conditions and gathered the necessary document, then you qualify to start your application for a U.S work visa. The way you can apply is by completing the following steps:
Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and print the confirmation page
The information you enter into the DS-160 form must all be correct. If you submit any incorrect information, the Embassy will have reason enough to deny you the visa. In addition, the DS-160 form is available in many languages, but your answers must be in English.
Schedule your interview
Due to the high number of applications that U.S Embassies receive, you should make sure that you schedule your interview as soon as you meet all the requirements. If you are younger than 13 years old or older than 80 years old, a visa interview is generally not required. As for people between the ages of 14 and 79, interviews are required, but there can be exceptions if you are just renewing your visa.
Attend the interview
Your interview and the information on the DS-160 form will serve for the U.S Embassy to make their decision on whether you should be given a visa or not. That is why, it is highly important that you show up to the interview on time, dressed appropriately, and with all the necessary documents. In addition, you should answer all questions as fully as possible, always giving true information. Visa interviewers are trained to detect when someone is providing false information, so if you do that, they will deny your visa.
Complete additional procedures
You will be required to give digital fingerprints before, during, or after your interview depending on your location, as well as pay any additional fees. After the visa processing, if the U.S Embassy gives you the work visa, you might also be required to pay a visa issuance fee. The amount of the visa issuance fee is determined based on your country of origin.
Your Rights and Responsibilities
Temporary Workers in the U.S have a set of rights, which the government grants them. They are protected from violations and exploitation and can exercise these rights without being penalized. If someone in the U.S violates your rights and you report it, your visa will not be terminated and the government cannot force you to return to your country if your visa is still valid, only because you reported those violations.
If the inspectors of Homeland Security and other departments allow you entry into the U.S, you also have the right to apply to extend your stay. However, once your visa expires, you cannot stay in the country unless the Embassy extends your visa. If you stay after your work visa is invalid, you might not be eligible to apply for one in the future.
You also have the right to apply for a visa for your spouse or children in the same visa category that you have.
- For H visa holders, your spouse and children should apply for an H-4 visa
- If you hold an L visa, your dependents should apply for an L-2 visa,
- For O visas, spouse and children should apply for an O-3 visa,
- P visa holder’s spouse and children should apply for a P-4 visa, and
- Those who hold a Q visa, spouse and children should apply for a Q-3 visa
What is a Labor Conditions Application?
A Labor Conditions Application (LCA) or Certification is issued by the US Department of Labor to a company that is planning to hire a foreign worker. The LCA gives the right to the company to hire employees who are not US citizens of Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) and sponsor them for visas.
The LCA declares that the company needs to hire a foreign worker because a US worker was not available, qualified, or willing to work in that job position. It also states that the foreign worker’s salary will be on par with that of a US worker and that the foreign worker will not face discrimination or a bad work environment.
What is an Employment Petition?
An employment petition is submitted by a US company that wants to sponsor a foreign worker for an employment visa. The petition is submitted to USCIS for processing and includes details of the job position, salary, and the qualifications of the foreign worker.
When a US employer submits an employment petition, they must also pay the fees for processing and sponsoring the employee. They must also attach supporting documents that prove that the company can afford to hire a foreign worker, that they have paid all taxes, and obtained a Labor Certification Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor.
What is an Employment Authorization Document?
Those who have U.S nonimmigrant visas cannot start working unless they have a work permit. The U.S work permit is called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and it can be obtained immediately after your visa is approved.
The EAD allows you to work in any U.S company legally for as long as your visa is valid. Your spouse can also get an EAD if they qualify. Once you renew or extend the visa, you must also apply for a renewal of your EAD. For information on how to apply, visit the EAD article.