Are you a non-American citizen looking to work in the U.S.? If so, you need a U.S. work visas if you want to work in the country legally.
The U.S. is a preferred destination for professionals looking to achieve the American dream. Good salaries, an excellent working environment, and growth opportunities are part of the reason why.
The U.S. offers non-citizens several types of U.S. work visas to allow them to work there. The main classifications are temporary work visas and the Green card, which provide permanent residency, exchange worker visas, and seasonal work visas.
Here, you can learn more about the visa types you can apply for, the eligibility requirements, and more.
U.S. Green Cards
You can become a permanent U.S. citizen through an offer of employment or a job. Permanent residency is available through a Green card.
The other way is by winning a Green card through the U.S. Green card lottery program. This offers Green cards to a limited number of applicants.
Still, some Green card categories require certification to show an inadequate number of U.S. workers who are willing, qualified, and able to take up the jobs.
This certification comes from the U.S. Department of Labor and proves that no U.S. Citizen can take up the job, and the position can thus be given to an immigrant.
American Immigration laws also have provisions for foreign nationals to get Green cards through employment in the U.S.
These are called Employment-Based classifications, as discussed below.
The first preference is for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, athletics, business, and education. Extraordinary professors, researchers, and multinational executives and managers are included in this category.
To be eligible, applicants must prove that they sit at the top of the profession.
This is shown through:
- Publication of scholarly articles
- Publications about your work, yourself, or your profession
- Won awards and recognitions
- Proof that you held a critical role in the leadership of an organization
- Innovations or novel contributions
- High compensation
The second preference is for foreign professionals who hold advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. This classification includes national interest waivers.
Qualified foreign physicians that practice in an underserved specialty are eligible in EB-2.
The third preference is for foreign professionals, skilled workers, and other unskilled workers.
Skilled workers require a minimum of two years of training and experience. Professionals must have a bachelor’s degree but not be qualified for EB-1 and EB-2.
The fourth preference is for special immigrants. This class considers neglected juveniles, retired employees, or officers of specific organizations like NATO and their families and religious workers.
People working as translators within the U.S. armed forces are also part of this category.
The fifth preference is for foreigners that have invested or looking to invest $1 million or $500,000 in specified employment areas.
These investments should be in commercial holdings that will create employment for at least ten citizens and benefit the American economy.
The $500,000 investment should employ at least five people on a full-time basis.
Green card Lottery Programs
The Green card lottery program, also known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, runs every year.
The program allows prospective immigrants to acquire permanent legal residency in America.
Qualifying applicants are selected randomly in this system, hence the name ”Green card lottery program”.
Applicants apply far in advance of when they would wish to relocate to the country.
Exchange Visitor Visas
These are known as Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visas. These are opportunities provided to people that are approved to participate in work-study exchange visitor programs.
Eligible professions include au pairs, interns, college students, teachers, professors, camp counselors, physicians, and scholars.
This visa accords holders the opportunity to experience life in the U.S. before returning home.
Temporary Work (Non-Agricultural) H-2B Visas
These are offered to non-agricultural jobs provided to non-U.S. citizens, as long as there are no qualified citizens to fill the positions.
H-2B temporary visas are given to job opportunities in amusement parks, ski mountains, beach resorts, and hotels.
Temporary Work (Skilled Workers) H-1B Visas
These visas are for educated, skilled individuals in specified fields.
These enable employees to work for a pre-specified duration for a specific employer. To qualify, applicants must have an existing employee-employer relationship, get above prevailing wage compensation, and be in an in-demand profession.
Seasonal Agricultural H-2A Visas
These are given temporarily to foreign agricultural workers looking to work in the country.
These can only be offered if there is an inadequate number of domestic workers to fill the vacancies.
H-2A visas are given for three years. These are not allowed for citizens from all countries but a pre-selected list of countries. This list of countries is published by the Department of Homeland Security and is valid for a year following publication.
Is A Visas Enough To Work In The U.S.?
While a visa is an essential document in enabling aliens to work in the U.S., it’s not the only required document.
You will also need a work permit, known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This proves your eligibility to work in the U.S.
Employers are required by law to ensure any employee they hire is legally allowed to work in the country. The first way to meet this requirement is by being a U.S. citizen. Non-citizens, on the other hand, have to show their visa as well as the EAD.
This card proves to employers that you are legally allowed to work in the country.
Change the first text above to “Job offer“ from “job Offer“
Work Visa Application
There are three preconditions you should meet before applying for a work visa.
- You must have applied for and received a job offer from an employer in the country.
- An approved petition by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can apply for a visa once you have this. However, the U.S. embassy might decline your visa application for other reasons.
- For H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, and H-2B work visas, your employer also needs to obtain a Department of Labor certification. To get this, an employer needs to prove that they cannot fill the position with an American candidate and therefore require a foreign worker.
In addition to these, you will need:
- A passport valid for the entire period of your intended stay and six months after you leave the country
- A U.S. work visas photo
- The receipt number from the I-129 form filed by your prospective employer
- The confirmation page of a duly completed non-immigrant visa application
- Application fee receipt
- Proof that you will return home after the applicable duration. Your financial situation, family ties, and a residence to return to are examples of such evidence.
There might be other requirements from time to time that you might require before getting a work visa. Ensure to find out what these are from your local U.S. embassy.
If you meet the pre-qualifying conditions and have gathered the required documents, you now qualify to apply for a work visa.
Here are the steps to follow and what to expect.
Complete form DS-160
You need to fill out form DS-160 and print out the confirmation page. This form is available in numerous languages, but answers must be in English. Ensure all information filled out is accurate as the embassy or consulate might disqualify your application if it contains any falsehoods.
Schedule an interview
If you are between the ages of 14 and 79, you have to book a visa interview. Be sure to make the booking after confirming that you meet the eligibility criteria and have the required documents.
During your interview, the DS-160 form you completed will be used to determine whether you will get a visa. Be on time, dress appropriately, and answer all questions honestly to the best of your knowledge.
You might be required to give digital fingerprints after, before, or during your interview with the embassy. After visa processing, if your work visa is granted, you might be asked to pay a visa issuance fee. The amount of the fee will be determined by the country you come from.
Once the work visa is granted, the government accords you specific rights, and you can exercise these without being penalized. You can report violations of your rights without being asked to leave the country or having your work visa revoked.
Labor Condition Applications and Employment Petitions
A Labor Condition Application (LCA) is issued to companies looking to hire a foreign worker. The U.S. Department of Labor issues this certification.
Once a company gets an LCA, it has the right to hire non-citizens of Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) and sponsor their visas.
An employer petition is an employment petition made by an employer who wishes to sponsor a foreign worker for an employment visa.
The petition is sent to the USCIS and should include details such as salary, position, and qualification of the prospective worker. Aside from the application, the employer also pays the sponsorship and processing fees for the employee’s work visa.