Temporary Work Visa

Learn more about the following visas on this page:

H-1B VISA

The H-1B Visa has become a somewhat mythical visa category over the years. It’s the visa everybody wants and it’s the visa everybody pays attention to. The laws regarding the H-1B Visa constantly change and concerned candidates should stay informed and updated as much as possible.

So what, officially, is the H-1B Visa? The H-1B Visa allows foreign workers to enter the U.S. and work in a variety of fields. These fields are various and range from Architecture and Engineering to Medicine and Animation and Graphics Arts. The H-1B Visa offers a wide range of employment possibilities and is a substantial first step toward permanent immigration.

The job you apply for must demand at last a U.S. Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalence. The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you and is employer specific meaning that you can only work for your sponsoring employer. You can stay in the U.S. for up to six years, after which (with some exceptions) you are required to leave the U.S. for at least one year before being eligible again.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. under H-4 status. They are not permitted to work, unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

Steps

As stated earlier, the H-1B visa is not self-petition. You must first get in touch with a U.S. employer who will offer you employment. This employer should file a petition with the INS on your behalf.

The employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) certified by the Department of Labor. They must also show that you are qualified for the proposed position, and that the job falls under the classification of a specialty occupation. After wage conditions are met, the employer will submit the LCA form to the Department of Labor. After verified, accepted and certified, the LCA form will be returned to the employer. The employer should then submit the form to CIS. Other documents required include proof of your expertise, the type of work you will be involved in and your employer’s professional credentials.

The employer must file-in Form I-129 (Petition for Non-immigrant worker) with the Service Center with jurisdiction over the location of employment. This should include a base fee of $320, as well as $500 Fraud and Detection Fee and a $1500 training fee (employers with less than 25 employee pay are subject to the fee of $750 rather than $1500). Upon approval, the Service will send Form I-797 (Notice of Action) to your employer. You will then be able to apply for the visa at the U.S. consulate in your country.

Documents

Both you and your employer are required to submit documents for the H-1B Visa. The following documents are to be supplied by you:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Form I-797 (The Notice of Action). This petition should be sent to you by your employer.
  • Proof that your academic and work qualifications are equivalent to that which is necessary for obtaining the visa.
  • Copies of your academic records.
  • A resume and recommendation letters from your previous employers.
  • Proof of any membership you have in relevant trade or professional organizations.
  • A letter from your employer detailing the job and its requirements.

Your employer will send the following documents to you:

  • Form I-797, The Notice of Action.
  • A copy of Form I-129, I-129H and I-129 DC.
  • A copy of the letter the employer’s support letter.
  • A letter of sponsorship/appointment.
  • Company financial documents/tax returns.

H-2A VISA

The H-2A Visa is the most functional of visa categories. It fills a specific need for the U.S. and for foreign nationals. The visa allows foreign workers entry to the U.S. to work in agriculture. Truthfully, the visa hasn’t garnered much support in the community. Growers don’t like the limits of the visa and advocates don’t believe the laws give enough support to workers.

The H-2A visa is not self-petitioned. Employers must apply on behalf of their employees. The employer can be self-employed, a partnership, corporation or agricultural association. An agent may also apply on behalf of the employer.

Workers’ spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join them in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work, unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

Steps

The first step is to apply for a Temporary Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). You must meet all requirements of the DOL, and you must prove that there are no U.S. workers available for the proposed position(s).

After approval of the application, you must attempt to recruit eligible U.S. individuals for the proposed positions. After the recruitment process is complete, the DOL will subtract the number of accepted U.S. workers from the requested amount of H-2A workers. If no U.S. workers were able to be recruited, you will be eligible to apply for your requested amount of visas.

You will then petition for the agreed amount of H-2A Visas with INS. After approval of this petition, foreign workers may apply to the consulate in their home nations.

Documents

The documents required for the petition process are:

  • Form I-129/I-129H (Petition for non-immigrant worker).
  • A copy of the approved Temporary Labor Certificate.
  • A statement detailing the number of workers required.
  • An application including the workers’ names and qualifications.

The documents required for the H-2A Visa are:

  • An approved temporary labor certification.
  • Application for Alien Employment Certification (Form ETA 750, Part A, the Offer of Employment).
  • Agricultural and Food Processing Clearance Order (Form ETA 790).
  • Documents that support the required forms.

H-2B VISA

While only a few H-2B Visas are issued each year, the visa is nonetheless useful. The H-2B visa enables U.S. businesses and agents to fill temporary needs for nonimmigrant workers. Many individuals unable to obtain an O or P Visa may apply for this visa. However, medical graduates are not allowed to apply for this visa. The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work, unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

Steps

The first step is to apply for a Temporary Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). You must meet all requirements of the DOL, and you must prove that there are no U.S. workers available for the proposed position.

The employer must then attempt to recruit eligible U.S. individuals for the proposed positions. Once this recruitment process is over, the DOL will send the employer labor certification. The employer can then petition INS for your H-2B Visa. After approval of this petition, you may apply at the consulate in your home nations.

Documents

  • An approved temporary labor certification.
  • Proof of your qualifications for the position.
  • A letter detailing the nature of the position.
  • Proof of the temporary nature of the position.
  • A letter detailing the nature of the temporary need for foreign workers.

H-3 VISA

The H-3 Visa is specifically designed to enable you to train in the U.S. in almost any discipline. INS calls this loose classification, ‘any field of endeavor’. This includes agriculture, technology, communications and governmental leadership. This loose classification does not include people seeking graduate medical training. Nurses and medical students on vacation, however, may be eligible for the H-3 Visa.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Family members are not permitted to work while in the U.S.

Steps

The H-3 Visa is not self-petitioned An employer must petition on behalf of you, the trainee. The employer must provide certain evidence about the training, including a description of the training program, your compensation (if any) and reasons why you need the training.

The employer must then submit a petition on Form I-129 with the regional INS center that has jurisdiction over the place where the training will be offered.

Documents

Along with the requisite nonimmigrant application documents, the H-3 Visa requires your employer provide the following:

  • Proof that this training is not available in your home country, and that this training will aid you in your career.
  • Proof that you will not engage in willful employment while in the U.S.
  • Proof that the training is formal in nature.

L-1 VISA

Businesses that function both in the United States and in their home country gain the benefits of the best of both areas. The L-1 visa is open to international organizations with offices in the U.S., and who transfer employees to the U.S. office for temporary periods of time. This visa is sometimes referred to as the ‘intra-company transferee’ visa.

To obtain an L-1 visa, you must be able to prove that you have worked for the non-U.S. company for at least one full year within the last three years as an executive, manager or employee with specialized knowledge.

The L-1 visa enables the transfer of managers, executives and specialized knowledge personnel to a U.S. office, subsidiary or affiliated company. This visa comes in the following categories:

  • L-1A visas – for executives and managers
  • L-1B visas – for personnel with specialized knowledge
  • Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S., under L-2 status. They are not allowed to work, but can attend school or college. Servants may be eligible for a B-1 visa with work authorization.

Steps

The employer must file a petition with the INS Regional Service Center with jurisdiction over the location of the position. These documents should be photocopies of the originals. The INS will inform you of acceptance or denial of the petition within 30 days.

Upon approval, the INS will forward the petition to the U.S. Consulate nearest your place of residence for review. If you are not in the U.S. when your petition is approved, you must get your visa stamped at the U.S. consulate before being allowed to enter the U.S. Your employer will receive Form I-797.

After receipt of the I-797, you must then file-in Form DS-156 at the Consulate. If your petition is not approved due to missing documents, INS will request further documentation. You will have 12 weeks to respond. If approved, your visa will be valid for 3 years.

Blanket Petition: A blanket petition eases the process of getting the L-1 visa. If a company has been defined as a blanket petition entity by INS, the company can directly authorize L-1 visas to eligible employees.

Documents

To apply for an L-1 Visa, you must supply the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • The employee copy of Form I-797. The Notice of Action, this petition is filed with the CIS by your employer.
  • Copy of Form I-129, and the L Supplement.
  • Your petition should show that both the U.S. and foreign-based company meet CIS’s requirements for L-1 status. The U.S. entity should be a branch office, subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign enterprise, and both companies should be actively engaged in business.

The following documents may also be required:

  • A letter from your prospective U.S. employer on company letterhead detailing your position and the U.S. operation’s status.
  • Letters proving that the U.S. and foreign entities are engaged in business. These can be from attorneys, bankers or accountants.
  • Proof of the size and status of the U.S. and foreign entities.
  • Documents that detail the value of the applicant’s skills in regards to the U.S. entity.

You, the employee, should provide the following documents:

  • A resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Copies of passports for family members joining you.
  • Proof of education: degrees, transcripts, etc.
  • Reference letters from former employers.
  • Professional licenses, if applicable.

If you are coming to the U.S. to start a new office, you should also provide the following documents:

  • Proof of a building or location for the new office. A lease will work for this.
  • Proof of your relationship with the foreign entity.
  • Proof of financial resoluteness. You must show that you can pay your U.S. employees and handle any other business costs.

R-1 VISA

The R-1 Visa enables religious workers to temporarily enter the United States. A religious vocation is defined as a calling to religious life, shown by a demonstration of a lifelong commitment; for instance, taking vows. Nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters are examples of religious workers.

A religious occupation is defined as a continual engagement in an activity related to a traditional religious function. This definition includes liturgical workers, religious instructors or cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals, missionaries, religious translators and religious broadcasters. However, it doesn’t include janitors, maintenance workers, clerks, fund raisers or solicitors of donations.

Your spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age may be granted derivative status to enter the U.S. They are not authorized to work while in the U.S., but may attend school.

Steps

You should apply for an R-1 Visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. While you may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, this method is more difficult. You do not have to maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of abandoning, but must intend to leave the U.S. at the end of your R-1l status.

Documents

The following documents are required for the R-1 Visa:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

You will also need to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of tax-exempt status or eligibility for tax-exempt status.
  • A letter from an authorized official of employing organization certifying your position in your organization, and the nature of the organization.

TN VISA

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to enter the U.S. under the nonimmigrant TN status. The TN Visa enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work in U.S. in a NAFTA-approved professional occupation.

The following are the requirements to be eligible for the TN Visa:

  • The profession be on the NAFTA list.
  • The foreign national must possess the necessary training for that profession.
  • The proposed position must be classified as a professional position.
  • The foreign national must work for a U.S. employer.
  • Canadian Citizens may apply for the TN-1 Visa, and Mexican citizens may apply for the TN-2 Visa. Please not that the process to obtain a TN-2 Visa is much more complicated than that of the TN-1.

Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to enter the U.S. under the derivative TD-1 and TD-2 visas. Family members are not required to be Canadian or Mexican citizens, and are eligible to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the TN Visa holder’s stay. They may either accompany the TN Visa holder to the U.S. or come at a later time.

TN-1 Visa

Canadian citizens applying for the TN-1 Visa must provide the following information at a U.S. port of entry:

  • An official request for TN status.
  • Copies of all relevant college degrees and employment records. This data should prove the applicant is sufficiently qualified for the proposed position.
  • A offer of employment letter from the sponsoring employer.
  • Proper processing.
  • Canadian citizens need not obtain Labor Certification. They must simply obtain TN status at a port of entry, after sufficiently proving that the proposed stay is of a temporary nature.

TN-2 Visa

Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for the TN-2 Visa. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • The sponsoring employer must file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor (DOL).
  • The employer must also file a petition for nonimmigrant workers on Form I-129 with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services.
  • After approval of the petition, the foreign national must apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
  • Only 5550 TN-2 Visas are issued each year to Mexican citizens. TN-2 candidates presently in the U.S. under another nonimmigrant status may wish to apply for a change of status.

O-1 VISA

The O-1 Visa is for outstanding individuals. The visa enables people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture or television industry to enter the U.S. for temporary periods of time. INS loosely defines this category, and the spectrum of eligible individuals also includes chefs, carpenters and lecturers.

To be considered an outstanding individual, you should be highly regarded in your field, and can only work in the U.S. in that area of expertise.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. under O-3 status. While they may not work while in the U.S., family members are allowed to attend school.

Steps

The O-1 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your petitioner should file-in Form I-129 with the Service Center with jurisdiction over the state in which you intend to work. The form should be filed-in at least six months before you plan to begin working.

The petition must include a printed article or statement from either a person or group proficient in your field. This person/group should support your status as a respected member of your field.

Documents

Applicants must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

Your petitioner must also include the following documents:

  • Your resume/CV and educational history.
  • Proof of your eligibility.
  • Evidence that proves you have received recognition or awards in your field.
  • Printed documents by previous employers or experts in your field that show your level of achievement in your field.
  • Employer financial information.
  • A letter from your employer detailing the work you intend to perform while in the U.S.

O-2 VISA

O-2 visas are offered to support personnel of O-1 Visa holders in the fields of athletics, entertainment, motion picture and television production. This status is not applicable to personnel in the sciences, business or education.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under an O-3 status. The petitioner should file a petition on their behalf. Your dependents must prove immediate relation to you. Though they are not allowed to work while in the U.S., dependants may attend school or college.

Steps

The O-2 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your petitioner should file-in Form I-129 with the Service Center with jurisdiction over the state in which you intend to work. The form should be filed-in at least six months before you plan to begin working.

More than one O-2 application may be included on the same petition, if all parties are helping the same O-1 applicant for the same events or performances, during the same period of time and at the same location.

Documents

Applicants must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Establishment of the demonstration of nonimmigrant intent. You must prove that you will return to your home country.
  • An official agreement between you and the petitioner detailing the terms and conditions of the services.
  • An agreement between you and the O-1 visa holder that proves your professional relationship.
  • Proof of a previous professional relationship with the O-1 visa holder.
  • Proof that you are capable of assisting the O-1 visa holder.

P-1 VISA

Artists and athletes are an essential portion of healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-1 visas are issued to entertainers, circus artists, and athletes who wish to work in the U.S.

Outstanding athletes may apply for this visa in order to compete in the U.S., either as individuals or as members of an internationally recognized athletic team.

Entertainment groups with an outstanding international reputation can be granted P-1 classification as a unit; however individual entertainers within these groups cannot apply for separate visas.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under a P-4 status. P-4 visa holders are not allowed to work, but may attend schools or colleges. Servants of a P-1 visa holder may receive a B-1 visa with work authorization.

Steps

Your employer must forward all necessary documents along with Form I-129 to the Service Center branch with jurisdiction over the area where you plan to perform. A U.S. agent may also file a petition for workers who are self-employed, use agents to book short-term engagements with many different employers or in situations where foreign employer(s) authorize the use of an agent to act on their behalf.

This agent may be the employer of the performer, a representative of the employer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

Documents

For the P-1 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Proof that you are recognized in your field. This may include awards, citations and certificates.
  • Athletes and entertainment groups may be asked to provide further documentation.

P-2 VISA

Artists and athletes are an essential portion of healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-2 Visas are issued to troupes or bands entering the U.S. as a part of an exchange program. There should be two organizations involved in this exchange program: one in the U.S. and one abroad.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under a P-4 status. P-4 visa holders are not allowed to work without being granted permission.

Steps

Either the U.S. labor group that negotiated the exchange agreement, the sponsoring organization or the U.S. employer must file the petition. The petition should be filed to the U.S Consular office or U.S. Embassy, or to the branch of the INS with jurisdiction over the location where the troupe/band plans to perform. The application forms and relevant documents may be mailed or submitted in person.

A U.S. agent may also file a petition for workers who are self-employed, use agents to book short-term engagements with many different employers or in situations where foreign employer(s) authorize the use of an agent to act on their behalf.

This agent may be the employer of the performer, a representative of the employer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

Documents

For the P-2 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

The petitioner must also provide documents that prove that the troupe/band are eligible for the visa. These documents include:

  • Proof that all people involved in the program are artists or entertainers with talent.
  • An official letter from the sponsor(s) noting the details of the exchange program.
  • Proof that a labor organization mediated over the program.
  • An official affidavit that confirms the existence of the exchange program between the U.S. and a foreign country.

P-3 VISA

Education is paramount to the exchange of ideas and beliefs between nations. The P-3 visa offers art teachers the ability to share their skills and talents with individuals in the U.S. Under P-3 status, teachers can enter the U.S. and train others in their particular discipline.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under a P-4 status. P-4 visa holders are not allowed to work, but may attend schools or colleges.

Steps

Your sponsor must forward all necessary documents along with Form I-129 to the Service Center branch with jurisdiction over the area where you plan to perform. A U.S. agent may file a petition for workers who are self-employed, use agents to book short-term engagements with many different employers or in situations where foreign employer(s) authorize the use of an agent to act on their behalf.

This agent may be the employer of the performer, a representative of the employer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

Documents

For the P-3 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

The following are also required:

  • Proof that all teaching activities are not-for-profit.
  • Proof of the exchange program, provided by a labor organization.
  • A schedule of all proposed teaching programs, and details of the agreement.
  • Proof of the validity of the artistic discipline, along with details about the two organizations involved in the exchange program.
  • Proof that the you, the teacher are recognized in your discipline. This should include a letter from a peer, along with evidence such as articles by professionals in your discipline.
  • Proof that you are necessary to the successful functioning of your sponsoring organization.