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23 June 2009

How to Get a US Work Visa - Employment Based Immigration


Temporary Work Visas and Employment-Based Green Cards

An individual may obtain a temporary visa to work or study in the United States, or he or she may obtain lawful permanent residency (green card) through one of five employment-based preference categories. Immigration attorneys can assist you with either your temporary work visa or your employment-based green card application.

Temporary Visas for Working

The H Visa Temporary Worker

There are several types of H visas for temporary workers. Each type of visa allows the individual to perform a specific job:

  • H1B is for professionals who are coming to work in the U.S. in a specialty occupation (Professional visa and Fashion Models);
  • H1C is for nurses who will work in particular positions;
  • H2A is for agricultural workers;
  • H2B is for non-agricultural workers (Unskilled Foreign Workers);
  • H3 is for trainees; and
  • H4 is the accompanying visa granted to the spouse and children under 21 years of age of the worker.
  • TN Status: allows certain qualifying Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work for an employer in the U.S. under NAFTA.

Learn more about the H Visa and other Temporary Worker visas through the U.S. State Department's website

The E Visa

Only citizens and nationals of certain countries are eligible for this type of visa. A requirement for this visa is a treaty between the United States and the foreign country for trade or commerce. There are two types of E visas for working:

  • E1 visa is for an individual who is doing substantial trade with the United States; and
  • E2 visa is for an investor who is directing an investment

Learn more about Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Visas through the U.S. State Department's website

The L Visa Temporary Worker

The L visa is for temporary worker who is coming to work at a subsidiary of a foreign company. There are several types of L visas:

  • L1 is for a manager or an executive;
  • L1B is for someone with specialized knowledge;
  • L2 is the accompanying visa that spouses and children under 21 years of age receive with the worker.

Temporary Visas for Studying - Student Visas

Look for important News Releases from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about SEVIS

The F-1 Visa

This type of visa allows the student to study full-time at an academic institution such as a university, private school, or language institute.

Learn more about Academic Student Visas through the U.S. State Department's website.

The J Visa for Exchange Trainees and Workers

The J visa is for temporary workers or trainees who are coming to work or train with an organization that has been approved for an exchange program under the J visa regulations.

Learn more about Exchange Visitor Visa (J Visa) through the U.S. State Department's website.

Read about the Waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement for J Visa through the U.S. State Department's website.

The M Visa

This type of visa allows an individual to attend an approved course of study leading to a specific educational or vocational objective and engage in full-course of study.

Learn more about the Nonacademic Student Visa (M Visa) through the U.S. State Department's website.

Temporary Visas for Particular Occupations - O, P, Q, and R Visas

The O Visa

The O-1: Extraordinary Ability Artists/Entertainers, Business People, Scientists, Educators, and Athletes

The O-1 visa is available to foreign nationals of extraordinary or high achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics as demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, or with regard to motion picture and television productions, a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement, and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.

The O-2: Support Staff of Artists and Athletes

The O-2 visa is for an alien entering:

(1) for a specific event or events;
(2) who is an integral part of such actual performance;
(3a) has critical skills and experience with principal alien, which are not of a general nature or which cannot be performed by other individual; or
(3b) in the case of a motion picture or television production, has skills and experience with the O-1 alien that are not of a general nature and which are critical and the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production; and
(4) has a foreign residence that the alien has no intention of abandoning.

The P Visa for Athletes and Artists

This visa applies to an internationally recognized athlete performing at a major athletic event as an individual athlete or as part of a group or team and for an artist or member of internationally recognized entertainment group. There are several types of P visas:

  • P-1 is for an athlete and athletic teams and entertainment groups;
  • P-2 is for artists and entertainer reciprocal exchange;
  • P-3 is for artists and entertainers integral to performance.

The Q-1 Visa

This visa applies to a foreign national entering the U.S. for the purpose of obtaining practical training, employment, and the sharing of history, culture, philosophy, and traditions of the alien's home country.

The R-1 Visa

R-1 visa is for a foreign national with a religious profession, occupation, or vocation, for example, minister, professional holding degree or foreign equivalent degree, cantor, monk, evangelist, or nun.

Employment Based and Investor Immigrant Preferences

Employment-based immigration for lawful permanent residence falls under five preference cateogories:

  • Priority Workers (persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors or researchers, and intracompany transfers of executives or managers):
  • Members of the professions holding advanced degrees or persons of exceptional ability;
  • Skilled Workers, professionals, and other workers;
  • Special immigrants, including ministers and religious workers;
  • Investors with the potential to hire ten U.S. workers.

Different criteria apply to each of these categories and substantial document preparation is required to successfully obtain residency based upon one of the employment-based immigraton categories.

Check the current Visa Bulletin priority dates for each of the employment-based categories, since not all categories have a current priority date.

Should you wish to obtain a temporary visa for working or studying, or obtain your lawful permanent residency through your employment, consult immigration lawyers.

Ruchi Thaker is a partner at Thaker, Berowitz LLP - Immigration Lawyers in NY.

Areas of Practice:

  • Asylum
  • Federal Court Litigation
  • Criminal Deportation Defense
  • Naturalization
  • Family-based Immigration
  • Consular Processing

Languages: English, Gujarati, Hindi, Spanish

State Bar Admissions: New York State (2003); State of New Jersey (2002)

Federal Court Admissions:
United States Supreme Court (2007)
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2006)
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2006)
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2005)
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (2003)
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (2003)
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (2003)
United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (2003)
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (2002)

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