Immigrant and Nonimmigrant U.S. Work Visa Types

Hundreds if not thousands of foreigners seek employment in the United States on a short-term or long-term basis. Those available U.S. jobs that qualify foreign workers for a work visa normally begin with temporary employment which makes it easier for U.S. employers to sponsor individuals for temporary work visas. In most instances temporary workers eventually obtain permanent residency after working for certain periods of time. Take note that there are several categories of work visas and other types of temporary U.S. visas (such as a student visa or tourist visa) that will allow people to enter the U.S. on a short-term basis.

Nonimmigrant Employment-Based Visas

If you enter the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa, you will need to depart the U.S. before the expiration date shown on the Form I-94 (unless an extension for your visa is submitted on a timely manner). Talk to an immigration law expert or representative concerning an extension for a visa.

H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa

The H-1B Visa is a most sought-after nonimmigrant visa but due to the annual caps on the supply the applicants are unable to obtain them. Everyone seeking an H-1B visa, must have an offer of employment from a U.S. employer. The proposed job position must be in a specialty occupation, which usually requires a bachelor’s degree or higher to do the job. A U.S. employer must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Being that this visa category is in high demand and many more people apply than can be granted visas each year, it is best to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney to guide you through the process.

L-1 Nonimmigrant Visa

An L-1 Nonimmigrant visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the U.S. This visa classification also permits a foreign company that does not have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing one. The U.S. employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, along with a fee on behalf of the employee. The L-1 visa is also subdivided into two categories: L-1A (managerial/executive capacity) and L-1B (specialized knowledge).

O-1 Nonimmigrant Visa

Applicants applying for an O-1 nonimmigrant visa must be of extraordinary ability in education, the sciences, arts, business, athletics or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally. This category is also subdivided. Talk to an immigration lawyer about the subdivisions. A U.S. employer will need to file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS on the applicant’s behalf, which must also include a letter from the industry labor union that the union has no objection to the proposed U.S. employment.

For other nonimmigrant work visas, talk to an immigration attorney to see which category best suits you.

Immigrant Visas

After having successfully obtained an immigrant visa, you will receive a U.S. green card and you officially become a lawful permanent resident. In most cases, you must have a job offer and a U.S. employer must be willing to go through a demanding set of sponsorship steps before you can work in the U.S.

EB-1 - Extraordinary Ability Immigrant Visa

Every applicant of this visa category must show an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. The achievements must be recognized in the field through extensive documentation. An employment offer is not obligatory. However, you must provide strong evidence that you are coming to the U.S. to continue work in that area of expertise.

EB-1 Multinational Executive Immigrant Visa

For this specific visa you must have worked in a managerial or executive capacity for a firm or corporation outside of the U.S., for a minimum of one year during the three years before submitting your application with the intention of continuing your services for that particular firm or organization. Your employment must have been with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer. Talk to an immigration expert about the requirements.

EB-2 Advanced Degree Immigrant Visa

You must have an advanced degree or its equivalent, which is a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive work experience in the field.

Acceptable documentation includes:

  • An official academic record showing you have a U.S. advanced degree (or a foreign equivalent degree); or
  • An official academic record showing you have a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or a foreign equivalent degree) and letters from current or former employers showing you have at least five years of progressive work experience in your field after you earned your bachelor’s degree.

Time to Discuss Your Options with an Immigration Attorney

If you intend to travel to the U.S. for work and you are not sure which immigrant or nonimmigrant work visa you qualify for, check with your nearest immigration lawyer. Call Gambacorta Law Office at 847 908 4913, for a consultation.