When seeking to live and work in the United States, many foreign nationals often hear that they need an employment visa, and they are left wondering—what is an employment visa, and what is the process like for getting one? The United States offers a variety of employment-based visa options, and the one that best suits any particular foreign national will depend upon their plans, current experience, and history.
What Different Employment Visas Are There?
Employment visas vary in both type and qualification requirements. This means that some may be harder to get than others, and foreign nationals will not qualify for all types of visas. To better understand what sorts of visas can help you enter the United States to live and work—and possibly become a legal permanent resident—it is important to learn what types of visas are available and which ones you may qualify for.
A large majority of foreign nationals will not qualify for an A visa, but for some, it can be the only path to the entrance. An A visa is intended for ambassadors, government officials, diplomats, and their support staff and families who are visiting the United States. However, in order to qualify for an A visa, this visit must be for government or political reasons; officials seeking to visit the US for tourist or travel reasons will need a different visa.
The A category of visas is broken down into A-1 and A-2 depending upon who is receiving it—the diplomat or their staff or family. If you are a government official seeking to enter the United States for political reasons, an A visa is likely the route you will need to take.
EB visas (that is, employment-based visas) encompass a large category of visa options for those with technical skills. EB-1 visas are intended for industry experts or professors who demonstrate high skill in their field. EB-2 visas are similar, yet more stringent, as they require advanced knowledge of a field—such as special skills or advanced degrees. Those who qualify for an EB-3 visa are skilled workers holding at least a bachelor’s degree, and EB-4 visas are intended specifically for religious workers and priests who would like to live in the United States. EB-5 visas can be challenging, because they are for investors who fund a US company; this investment must create jobs over a short period of time.
Some EB visa categories require employer sponsorship while others do not. To confirm whether you will need sponsorship, speak to an experienced legal professional about your specific circumstances.
USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) will process a variety of H visa applications, each with their own unique paperwork, but the H-1B is one of the most common. H1-B visas are issued to temporary workers who pursue “specialty occupations” in the US. These positions tend to be extremely competitive, and those with the best chance of success will demonstrate special training and skills as well as advanced education.
One other factor to consider when applying for an H1-B visa is that applicants are placed into a lottery. In other words, while around 200,000 applications are approved each year, all approved applicants are placed into an equal-chances lottery out of which only 65,000 are selected to receive an H1-B. This means that it is possible to apply—and be accepted—but not receive a visa.
Occasionally, companies in the US will have temporary or seasonal work available for which they cannot find enough workers. In this case, an H-2A Agricultural Labor visa may allow you to enter the United States for temporary work. However, in order to qualify, the employer must follow specific availability rules.
The employer must prove that the temporary position offered to an H-2A visa holder will not adversely affect the wages or working conditions of workers in the US who are employed at similar tasks. Similarly, domestic individuals must not be available (either because of quality or quantity) to perform the tasks. In other words, hiring H-2A visa holders must not compete with United States resident applicants.
In many ways, an H-2B visa is similar to an H-2A visa but with one important difference: the work must be non-agricultural. For this reason, an H-2B is often referred to as a “Non-Agricultural Visa.” The same rules regarding the displacement of resident applicants and the temporary nature of the work still apply. An employer will become unable to petition on behalf of a worker for an H-2B if the employer is organizing the work such that residents of the United States are not eligible to apply to the job as well.
If you work for a company that has a branch, subsidiary, or similar in the United States, you may qualify for an L visa. L visas allow executives/managers (L1-A visa) or employees with specialized or proprietary knowledge (L1-B visa) to transfer from a foreign country to a branch of the parent company within the United States.
Spouses and children can receive an L-2 to travel with the employee to the United States. However, L visas, like H1-Bs and other employment-based visas, are only temporary, and further immigration applications must be made in order to convert to permanent residency within the US.
Reach Out To Kermit A. Monge Today
If you are a foreign national who would like to enter the United States on an employment-based visa, it can be overwhelming to consider your options and figure out which visas you qualify for (as well as how to apply for them). Consult with an experienced immigration attorney with The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge to assist you in determining which employment visa you may qualify for and help you with your application.
Putting your best foot forward and ensuring that you include all necessary information is critical for an employment-based visa application where you may have to prove your specialized knowledge. Get in touch with Kermit A. Monge to get your application started. Call by phone at (703) 273-5500 or send in an online contact form today.