Work or employment visas are available to individuals coming to the U.S. with the sole purpose to find or continue employment. There are many types of employment visas ranging from visas specifically designed for employees in specific career fields, from specific countries, to visas for individuals transferring to an American branch of their company. In order to obtain a work visa, employees need the backing of the employer to complete the process. Employers will have to petition on behalf of their employee, or prospective employee, to get the required visa.
Common Types of Work Visas
- H-1B Visa: The H1-B visa is one of the most common employment-based visas to be issued. It is only available to individuals who work in an occupation that requires specialized knowledge and completion of a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent).The visa last for 3 years and can only be renewed for another three; after that, they must leave or apply for a different visa.
- H-1B1 Visa: Similar to H-1B visas, but less restrictive, this visa is issued specifically to Chilean and Singaporeans professionals.
- B-1 Visa or B-2 Visa: B-1 visas are for business trips under 6 months while B-2 visas are issued for pleasure or tourist visits lasting 3 months or less.
- VWP: Citizens of participating countries may enter the U.S. for business or pleasure through the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”) instead of having to obtain a B visa.The length of stay is 90 days or less under the VWP.
- E Visas (E-1 or E-2): These visas are given to citizens of countries who have a treaty with the U.S. and who are visiting solely to conduct activities related to trade. They are valid for as long as your company is in business (and you are considered an employee), but they must be renewed every 2 years.
- E-3 Visa: E-3 visas are issued to Australians professionals (and their spouses or children) that will be working in the U.S. in a specialty field. Like E-1/E-2 visas, these are good for as long as you are working for the same company and must be renewed every 2 years.
- E-4 Visa: This type of visa is only granted to special immigrants that are only of the following: Afghan or Iraqi translator, member of the Armed Forces, child or spouse of a deceased NATO-6 employee or a retired NATO-6 employee, Iraqi national who has assisted the U.S., an International Organization employee, a broadcastor, physician, or religious worker.
- J-1 Visa: This visa is given to individuals looking to study while working in their field of career interest. This visa is commonly obtained by interns, teachers, medical researchers, au pairs, or those in a similar field. This visa is valid for up to 5 years (depending on your field of study). J-1 visa holders cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change their status in the U.S., or petition for a visa on behalf of another until they return to their home country (or country of last permanent residence) for at least two years.
- L-1 Visas: L-1 visas are for Individuals working in a managerial, executive, or specialty knowledge area of their company that needs to transfer from their foreign branch to a branch or affiliate (owned by the same company) that is located in the U.S. to continue their employment. An L-1 visa holder is known as an intracompany transferee.
- O Visas: Available only to individuals who have an “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or in the movie or television industry.
- P Visa: Similar to the O visa, P visas apply to certain individuals, team athletes, and members of an entertainment group who are looking to teach, coach or perform in the U.S.
- R Visa: R visas are granted to religious workers coming into the U.S.
- TN Visa: This visa is also known as the NAFTA Professional visa and is only granted to Canadian and Mexican nationals.