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The Different Types of U.S. Work Visas and their basic requirements

☝There are numerous U.S. Immigration Work Visa types that exist to allow employees to have temporary nonimmigrant status in United States and live here legally and with Work Authorization while working inside US or receiving job training. 

Every Work Visa starts with the Employer Company’s I-129 Petition, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

👉USCIS requires that Petitioners use Form I-129 to file on behalf of a nonimmigrant worker to come to the United States temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training, as an H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1 or R-1 nonimmigrant worker. Petitioners may also use this form to request an extension of stay in or change of status to E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B1 or TN, or one of the above classifications for a noncitizen.

The following are the U.S,. Worker Visas and their basic requirements. 

E Visas (E-1, E-2, and E-3) for Temporary Workers – These visas are meant for treaty traders who buy a business inside U.S. and need a visa to stay in U.S. to operate the American business. Even some of their employees may qualify, and the filing must demonstrate that the E-1 holder is coming to U.S. to carry on a trade between U.S. and other countries, involving multiple transactions. Only nationals of countries that signed the Trade Treaty with United States can apply for E-visas. 

H-1B Visa for Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models (Temporary Workers).  For H-1B classification, the worker must have a valid job offer and perform work in specialty occupations according to their experience and education and be a good match for the job that first gets certified by the Employer with the U.S. Department of Labor. 

H1B Visa requires:

  1. A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for the particular position; and to prove that
  2. The degree requirement is common for the offered position in the industry, or the job is so complex or unique that it can only be performed by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the position;

H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 Visa – H-2 Visas and H-3 Visas are temporary agricultural (H-2A) and non-agricultural (H-2B) visas. The H-3 category allows for noncitizens coming temporarily to the United States to either receive training or to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program. Here, there is no requirement for a bachelor’s degree or higher and the employer must prove that the job is temporary or seasonal and a one-time-thing. 

L Visas (L-1A and L-1B) for Temporary Workers – L-1A and L-1B visas may be issued when an employer files a petition to transfer an employee from their overseas office to United States, the L-1A is for executives and managers, and the L-1B is for transferring workers with lower level jobs, those having specialized knowledge. 

O-1 Visa, Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement – O-1 Visas are for workers or even independent contractors with outstanding, extraordinary abilities in their field, including science, arts, education, technology, mathematics, business, TV, and sports. The employee must demonstrate that they have international acclaim in their specialty, they are in a very exclusive small group in their profession on top of their field. 

P-1A Visa P-1A Visas are for athletes coming to United States for a temporary period to compete in a sports competition or series of competitions. 

P-1B Visa – P-1B Visas are for entertainers coming to United States to perform as a member of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding in the field for a sustained and substantial period of time. Musical and dance groups, performing artists and anyone who puts on shows for the public are eligible as long as there is a scheduled and announced event or a series of concerts to which they are coming to specifically. 

P-2 and P-3 Visa – These are for P-1 support personnel such as trainers, coaches, sound and light technicians, makeup artists, medics and anyone supporting the performing athletes or performers for the scheduled events. 

Q Visa, Cultural Exchange The Q-1 visa classification allows the worker to come to the United States temporarily to participate in an international cultural exchange program that provides practical training and employment, and shares the home country’s history, culture, and traditions. Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs may petition for Q nonimmigrants. It is an employment-oriented program, but the major part of the worker’s duties must have a cultural element. You, the worker, must be at least 18 years old; be qualified to perform the service, labor or training; and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of your country.

R-1 Visa, Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers – The R-1 Visa is for priests, monks, seminary and religiously trained teachers, and any workers coming to work in a religious institution of a known religious denomination. The R-1 visa classification allows the worker to come to the U.S. temporarily to be employed at least part time by a bona fide nonprofit religious organization to work solely as a minister, in a religious vocation, or in a religious occupation.

Most Work Visas require an offer of employment from a U.S. Company or employer individual who can demonstrate that their business needs the worker, that the business is legitimate, that the company is earning enough per year (based on their financial records) to pay a good salary to the employee commensurate with the average wages in the city where the employer company is operating. The employer also needs to prove that the position offered fits the visa type and the worker must demonstrate to USCIS that they fit the visa eligibility criteria including their specific education, work experience and training levels. The company, the job and the worker must all match! 

📝There are quotas for most of the nonimmigrant worker visas and there is a lottery for certain visas like H-1 and H-2 because of the high demand and the huge amounts of petitions filed every year in these categories.  

And yet other visas like O-1 could be self-sponsored if your expertise is outstanding and one of a kind and you are a recognized star in your field.

Call us today to discuss what your options are for a U.S. Work Visa!

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Shepelsky Law Group

Immigration Lawyers for all 50 states, Divorce Law in New York (NY) and New Jersey (NJ)

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