To work in the United States, you must obtain a work visa to be employed in the country legally. There are several different types of work visas available for foreigners who are interested in working in the United States. There are a few categories that these permits are listed under such as, temporary work visas, exchange worker visas, and seasonal work visas.
Many times it depends on what type of occupation you will perform in America that decides which valid visa is best for you. Some other factors that affect which visa is best for you can include whether you have a relationship with an employer, how long you’ll be employed in the United States, and what degree of skill it takes to perform the job.
Why a U.S. Work Permit is Necessary
Working in the U.S. is a sought-after goal for people from across the globe. In most cases, foreign nationals wishing to work in the United States will be required to apply for a U.S. work visa. There are many U.S. work visas available, and applicants must determine which ones they are eligible, and how to apply correctly and prepare documentation.
Note: Employers must verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States. Permanent residents, asylees, refugees and certain nonimmigrants have employment authorization as a direct result of their immigration status. Migrants who do not fall into these categories, such as certain family members of employment-based nonimmigrants, may need to apply for an EAD from USCIS. The documentation the employee chooses to submit to show employment authorization varies depending on the employee’s immigration status or other basis for employment authorization.
Which U.S. Work Visa is Right For You?
Any foreign national can apply for a U.S. work visa. Depending on the kind of work, there are several different options for individuals seeking temporary employment in the States.
U.S. work visa options include:
- L-1 visa: for foreign workers and owners wishing to transfer to a new or existing U.S. business
- E2 and E1 visa permit: for investors and traders.
- H-1B visa permit: for specialty occupations
- H-2B visa permit: for non-agricultural workers
- EB-1 Green Card: Outstanding Researcher or Professor immigrant visa classification
- EB-2 Green Card Permit: Based on Exceptional Ability.
- EB-3 Green Card Permit: Professionals, Skilled and Other Worker
- EB-4 Green Card Permit: Special immigrants including religious workers
Exchange Visitor Visa: J-1 Visa Permit Holiday Work Visa
This business visitor visa is known as a nonimmigrant visa which is available for individuals approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs, including by business sponsors. This permit allows visitors to experience life in the US before returning to their home countries.
Temporary Skilled Worker Visa: H1-B Visa Permit
The H1-B visa is designed for skilled, educated foreign workers who are employed in specialized occupations. The US H1-B visa enables foreign workers to work for a particular employer in the United States temporarily.
Temporary Non-Agricultural Work Visa: H-2B Visa
The H-2B Visa is available for foreign workers in non-agricultural fields to work in the United States, given that there is an insufficient number of natural US born citizens to fill the position. H-2B visas are usually for temporary jobs, though not agricultural. Some examples of these occupations would be sponsored jobs at truck drivers, ski mountains, hotels, beach resorts, or amusement parks.
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Visas: H2-A Visa
The H2-A visas are available for foreign agricultural workers who want to work in the United States on a seasonal or temporary basis, provided that there is a shortage of domestic American workers.
TN Visa: Nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has opened the doors for Canadians and Mexicans seeking to enter the United States markets by providing a “fast track” basis for U.S. visas through the TN visa. Only citizens are eligible for a TN visa; permanent residents or landed immigrants can not apply. There are a few occupations that are allowed for the TN visa but if your job offer is not one of the listed occupations, call us, we may be able to help you!
- MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
US Work Permit Requirements
- Passport(s) valid for 60 days beyond the expiration date printed on the immigrant visa.
- Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
- Two (2) 2×2 photographs.
- Civil Documents for the applicant.
- Financial Support. At your immigrant visa interview, you must demonstrate to the consular officer that you will not become a public charge in the United States.
- Completed Medical Examination Forms
Embassy or Consulate Requirements
You will be required to visit your local embassy or consulate for an interview. Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided
Processing Time for US Work Permit
The processing time for US work permits range depending on the type of visa you are applying for and where the application is processed.
For example if you are applying for an H-1B visa and it is being processed through the California center it can take 8 to 10.5 months. If you applied for the same visa out of the Vermont service center it would take 6.5 to 8.5 months.
We recommend always consulting your immigration professional to get a better estimate of how long your US work permit application will take.
Turning a Work Visa into a Green Card
Having a US work visa can lead to becoming a Canadian permanent resident through several paths.
You can obtain an Employment Based Green Card first which will give you permanent residency in the United States. If you don’t have an employment based green card and just a U.S. work visa there are some ways to obtain permanent residency.
1. Have an Employer Sponsor You for PR
If you have been hired in the U.S. under your work visa and the company/employer appreciates your work, they could sponsor you for PR. This would significantly speed up and simplify the conversion to a green card.
2. Invest Money for an EB-5
There are several ways to invest your money into the United States with exchange for an EB-5. An EB-5 is an employment based green card allowing the individual permanent residency.
3. Family Sponsorship
Do you have a family member who is a US Citizen or US permanent resident? They can sponsor you to become a permanent resident of the United States.