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Categories of U.S work visas | U.S work visa types | U.S Work Visa Guide

Work in the U.S on a working visa: In this guide, we will learn how to get the different types of U.S work visas, that allow you to live and work in the United States on a temporary basis. Some of these work visas include the E1, E2, H1, L1, and TN work visas.

We will also understand the different types of U.S work visas for high skilled working professionals and you can determine which of these visas is best suited for you. U.S work visa types.

U.S Work Visas

There are two broad categories of U.S work visas.

  • Nonimmigrant or temporary work visa
  • Immigrant or permanent work visa.

Both types of visas are given to individuals with a primary purpose of living and working in the U.S. The main difference between these categories is in the period of authorized stay in the U.S:

  • For Nonimmigrant or temporary work visa: Individuals entering the U.S on a temporary work visa are allowed to stay in the U.S for a fixed period of time beyond which they need to apply for what’s called an extension of state.
  • For Immigrant or permanent work visa: Individuals who enter the U.S on a permanent work visa are allowed to remain in the U.S indefinitely.

This article will only be focused on the temporary work visa, while the subject of the permanent work visa will be discussed in the preceding articles.

U.S Work Visa Types

Let’s take a look at the most common types of U.S temporary work visas in alphabetical order.

  • E1 and E2 Treaty Visa

This visa is granted to citizens of countries that have a Treaty of Commerce or an international agreement with the United States and who wish to enter the U.S to engage in international trade on their own behalf. This is the case with the E1 visa, whereas with the case of the E2 visa, this is for individuals who plan to invest a substantial amount in the U.S based business.

Of all the nonimmigrant work visas, the E1 and E2 visas are the most suitable visas for entrepreneurs who wish to enter the U.S to start their own businesses. Currently, there are 81 countries with at least one of these treaties with the U.S. You can find a full list of the treaty countries with the U.S here.

  • E3 Visa

This visa is only given to citizens of Australia who wish to come to the U.S to work in specialty occupations and have obtained an offer of employment from a U.S employer. Specialty occupations require specialized knowledge, and you must have obtained a minimum of bachelor’s degree in your field to enter the U.S on this visa.

Individuals entering the U.S on an E1, E2 and E3 visa are typically allowed to remain in the U.S for a period of two years, beyond which they must apply to extend their period of stay for another two years if they wish to remain in the U.S. There is no cap to the number of extensions that may be granted to an E1, E2 or E3 nonimmigrant.

  • H1B visa class

This is the most popular nonimmigrant work visa for high skilled professionals who come to the US. Similar to the E3 visa, you must obtain an offer of employment from a U.S employer for work in a specialty occupation, and you must have a minimum a Bachelor’s degree or higher that’s equivalent to a U.S Bachelor’s degree or higher degree.

Foreign nationals admitted to the U.S on an H1B visa are typically admitted for a period of three years, and they can apply to extend the period of stay for an additional three years, for a total of six years in the U.S.

  • H3 Visa

Foreign nationals coming to the U.S to receive job related training for work that will automatically be performed outside of the U.S can obtain what’s called an H3 Trainee visa.

Typically, individuals entering the U.S on an H3 visa are usually allowed to remain in the U.S for a period of two years.

  • L-1B visa

The L1B intra Company transferring visa allows a U.S employer to transfer a professional worker who’s knowledgeable about the employer’s business from a foreign location to a U.S based location.

To be eligible for these visa, you must have worked for the prospective employer for one continuous year within three years prior to when you seek to enter the U.S.

Most individuals entering the U.S on the L1 Visa are usually admitted to the U.S for an initial period of three years, and they may extend their stay in the U.S until a maximum limit of five years is attained.

  • O1 Visa

This type of visa is granted to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the Sciences, arts, education, business and in sport, and they must be coming to the U.S to work temporarily in their field of extraordinary ability.

Put simply, extraordinary ability in one field means that you must have attained a level of expertise that puts you at the very top of your field. This is usually demonstrated by the receipt of international or national awards in your field of expertise.

  • TN visa

The TN nonimmigrant class is based on the North America Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico. This allows a Canadian or Mexican citizen to enter the United States temporarily to work in a qualifying professional level business activity.

Some of these professions include lawyers, teachers, engineers, and scientists. Canadian or Mexican citizens must have the qualifications for these qualifying professions and must receive an offer of employment from a U.S based employer for these professions.

While citizens of Mexico need to obtain a TN visa to enter the United States, citizens of Canada do not. Citizens of Canada and Mexico who enter the U.S on a TN nonimmigrant class are allowed to remain in the U.S for a period of three years and if they wish to remain in the U.S beyond three years they must apply for an extension of stay in the U.S but there is no limit to the number of times a TN status can be extended.

In Summary

All the mansion work visa classes allow you to bring your dependent spouse and children to the United States but only the L and E visa class allow your dependent spouse to seek employment in the United States.

With the exception of the E1 and the E2 visa, all other work visas mentioned require a U.S employer to first file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and once approved the foreign national living outside the U.S must then apply for a visa to seek entry into the U.S or if the foreign national is lawfully present in the U.S on a nonimmigrant status they can change their status accordingly.

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I hope you found this article very informative.

DISCLAIMER: This article/post and content is designed for general information only and is NOT legal advice. The information presented in this article/post should not be construed to be formal legal advice. If you need legal advice, you may contact a licensed attorney.


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