Types of work visas and the cases in which they apply

The United States allows thousands of foreigners to enter the country every year to work legally in a wide variety of professions and occupations.

This right is granted through more than twenty different work visas, which may be permanent or temporary. In the latter case, the holder must renew it, change their immigration status or leave the country once their visa expires.

Immigrant visas: residence card or green card

People with extraordinary abilities can apply for an EB-1 visa. Applies to athletes, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs and artists of recognized prestige, such as the winners of a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal. These people can apply for the visa themselves by filling out Form I-140 of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

University professors, researchers, multinational executives, people with PhD studies completed or licensed with at least five years of work experience, athletes, artists, scientists or entrepreneurs with exceptional skills can get a permanent EB-2 work visa.

Unlike EB-1, EB-2 visas require that the petition be made by a US employer. That is, it requires the prior existence of a specific job offer. In addition, it is necessary to obtain an individual labour certification from the United States Department of Labor.

The only exception to this certification is to demonstrate to the USCIS that there is a special capacity that can favour the national interests of the United States.

They can also obtain a permanent work visa, in this case, an EB-3, professionals with university studies, workers with specialized knowledge with at least two years of experience or training or even workers without special skills. In these cases it is necessary to meet the following requirements:

  • that an entrepreneur in the United States make a permanent and full-time job offer.
  • that the employer does not find at that time an American person or permanent resident who can fill the vacant job.
  • that the Department of Labor certifies the work capacity of the foreign person.
  • that the employer submit the Form I-140 to the USCIS and demonstrate the ability to pay the salary offered for the job.

In addition, very different situations such as being a doctor, having worked in the Panama Canal Zone, being a nun or a priest, working for an international organization, such as the UN or the OAS, or having worked for NATO may entitle you to be a beneficiary of an EB-4 permanent work visa.

The form to fill out is I-360 and the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age who obtain an EB-4 visa can legally reside in the United States.

Finally, the foreign person who invests $ 1,800,000 – or $ 900,000 if the investment is made in a certain area that the government favours with the objective of creating employment – and generates a minimum of 10 jobs are entitled to obtain the permanent visa EB-5.

Temporary Work Visas

There are about twenty temporary visas to work in the United States and they request professionals as different as models, engineers, nurses, temporary field workers or people with special artistic or scientific skills.

One of the most popular visas is the H-1B. Except in the case of the models, the persons holding this visa must have a university degree and must work in a field considered by the US authorities as a “Special occupation”. Among the professionals who can benefit from this visa are, among others, teachers, engineers, architects, lawyers and mathematicians.

Each year the number of H-1B visas that can be granted is established by law, currently 65,000. But there is a quota of 20,000 for people who have obtained their masters or doctorates in American universities. When the number of applicants exceeds the number of visas available, a visa lottery is held.

There are also special quotas for nationals of certain countries such as Chile, for whom a quota of 1,400 visas is reserved. And visas granted to research center workers are not subject to quota.

A good alternative for the H-1 visa is the TN for professionals, but only Canadians and Mexicans can get it. These are the 60 professions that allow you to apply for these visas.

Other popular temporary visas are the O-1, for people with extraordinary skills in science, the arts, sports or the business world. The P-1A for recognized athletes (including professional video game players, whom Immigration equals elite athletes).

Other visas are the P-1B, P-2 and P-3 for prestigious artists and the H-2A for agricultural workers and the H-2B for seasonal workers in activities that are not related to agriculture or C1 / D for work on cruises for which it is necessary to enter the United States to embark on the ship where you are going to work.

Cruises that begin their travels in the US they hire thousands of people every year in different job qualities, many are foreigners. Frequently, recruitment agencies select employees for cruise ships. The salaries provided are higher than the minimum wage in the United States.

Another visa with its own particularities in the B-1 for domestic employees.

Finally, those of the J-1 family (exchange visas ) stand out. With them you can work temporarily in the US in very different capacities, such as:

  • Babysitter
  • Teacher
  • Professional Practices
  • Doctors who reside in the United States to specialize
  • Work in NGOs in the United States through the J-1 program.
  • Visa for foreign university students to work in the USA during the summer
  • Visa for camp monitors in the USA

Family members: spouse and children

With exceptions, as in the case of the L-1A and L-1B visas granted to executives and managers sent by their companies to work at their offices in the United States.

Another case is that of the assumptions of type E visas granted to certain types of merchants and investors, the spouses of persons benefiting from a temporary work visa may legally live in the United States, but may not have a work permit.

This rule was recently changed but only for very exceptional cases of people who have an H-4

In many cases you can also obtain a derivative visa for unmarried children under 21 years of age. If you are studying primary or secondary school it is very important to familiarize yourself as soon as possible with the particularities and options offered by the United States educational system.

Urgent processing of work visas

Lastly, it should be noted that several work visas (but not all of them) allow for fast processing, by filling out the I-907 form and paying $ 1,225 to seniors.

Thus, immigration to work in the United States is open. In some cases, the same person may opt for more than one type of visa. Before choosing, you should carefully examine the requirements of each one, the number of visas granted annually in each category and the months and even years of waiting that exist in some of them.

Delay times

Check the weeks or months (or years) to wait for various immigration procedures : Court, visas, residence, PERM to obtain authorization from the Department of Labor or applications to the USCIS.

Of interest

These are the 30 professions where the demand for employment will grow the most in the next eight years, according to the United States Department of Labor.