Foreign nationals interested in working in the U.S. must first apply for and be granted an employment authorization before they can be legally employed. In most instances, the potential employer must file a non-immigrant/immigrant petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign national and upon approval of the petition the beneficiary may be issued a visa to work in the U.S. A person may enter the U.S. on a visitor or student visa and change to an employment-based visa before the expiration of his/her legal stay. Those who are outside the U.S. must apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy upon the approval of the employment petitions filed by their employers.
The USCIS has an expedited service for certain types of temporary work visas where they guarantee the processing of cases within 15 calendar days upon receipt of the cases. The program is known as Premium Processing and the fee for the service is $1,000 in addition to the base filing fee.
The following are the most sought temporary employment visas:
- Visas for Specialty Occupations (H1-B Visas) This visa allows foreign nationals with at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent to work for U.S. employers offering employment positions requiring their degree or equivalent.
- Visas for Artists and athletes (P-1 Visas) This visa may be issued to foreign artists, athletes, and entertainers coming to perform in the United States.
- Visas for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability (O Visas) This allows foreign nationals with demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics to temporary enter the U.S. to work in their area of expertise.
- Visas for Canadian & Mexican Professionals (TN Visas) This is a special visa created under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that allows Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the United States.
- Visas for Intra-company transferees (L-1 Visas) Foreign executives, managers and specialized knowledge employees of a company may be issued this visa to work for the company’s U.S. affiliate, subsidiary or branch.
- Visas for Temporary Workers (H-2B Visas) This visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily and engage in nonagricultural employment which is seasonal, intermittent, a peak load need, or a one-time occurrence.
- Visas for Religious Workers (R Visas) This visa may be issued to foreign religious workers coming to the U.S. to work as ministers or other religious occupations.
- Visas for Exchange Visitors (J-1 Visas) This visa may be issued to students, short-term scholars, business trainees, teachers, professors and research scholars, specialists, international visitors, government visitors, camp counselors and au-pairs.
- Visas for Nurses (H1-C Visas) This visa allows a nurse to enter the U.S. temporarily to work in hospitals or for employers that are pre-designated by the U.S. as having a special need for nurses that is greater than that of the need across the U.S.
Foreign nationals who intend to work and reside permanently in the U.S. may apply for the green card if they meet the eligibility requirements under the immigration law.
DISCLAIMER: The information given in this website is intended as general information only and is not a substitute for the services of an immigration attorney in your specific case.