On June 22, President Trump signed an Executive Order on suspending some US Work Visas until December 31, 2020.
There are several options you can take to enter the US for work.
US Work Visas
How Can You Work in the US
If you are interested in working in the United States, you may be interested in either obtaining a temporary work visa, or an employment based green card. A variety of temporary work visas exist, and each will allow you to stay in the US for a specific and definite amount of time. By obtaining an employment based green card, you will be considered a permanent resident due to your employment status. Each option has different requirements, and it is important to determine for which you may be eligible.
Temporary Work Visas
Depending on the kind of work you are seeking or have experience in already, there are a number of different options for individuals seeking temporary employment in the States. These include temporary skilled worker visas, investor visas, business visitor visas, among others. Depending on your line of work, one of these temporary work visa options may be a good choice for you.
Employment Based Green Cards
Each year, many people obtain their green cards through employment based preferences, giving them permanent resident status in the US. The employment based category is divided into five sections: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5. If you are interested in working in the US, you may be eligible to obtain a Green Card under one of these categories.
NAFTA Based Visa
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), citizens of Canada or Mexico with a job offer in the US may be eligible for a TN temporary work visa. This allows a qualified individual to obtain a work visa quickly and with minimal documentation. The US job offer must be from a list of occupations defined by NAFTA. If you are a citizen of Mexico or Canada, the TN visa may be an attractive option.
How to Get a Temporary Work Visa for the US
To work in the United States, you must obtain a work visa to be employed in the country legally. There are several different types of work visas available for foreigners who are interested in working in the United States. There are a few categories that these permits are listed under such as, temporary work visas, exchange worker visas, and seasonal work visas.
Many times it depends on what type of occupation you will perform in America that decides which valid visa is best for you. Some other factors that affect which visa is best for you can include whether you have a relationship with an employer, how long you’ll be employed in the United States, and what degree of skill it takes to perform the job.
US Work Visa Processing Times
Temporary Work Visas: 5 to 7 months
Employment-Based Green Cards: 6 to 33 months
Learn more about US Work Visa Processing Times in 2021.
Why a U.S. Work Permit is Necessary
Working in the U.S. is a sought-after goal for people from across the globe. In most cases, foreign nationals wishing to work in the United States will be required to apply for a U.S. work visa. There are many U.S. work visas available, and applicants must determine which ones they are eligible, and how to apply correctly and prepare documentation.
Note: Employers must verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States. Permanent residents, asylees, refugees and certain nonimmigrants have employment authorization as a direct result of their immigration status. Migrants who do not fall into these categories, such as certain family members of employment-based nonimmigrants, may need to apply for an EAD from USCIS. The documentation the employee chooses to submit to show employment authorization varies depending on the employee’s immigration status or other basis for employment authorization.
Which U.S. Work Visa is Right For You?
Any foreign national can apply for a U.S. work visa. Depending on the kind of work, there are several different options for individuals seeking temporary employment in the States.
U.S. work visa options include:
- L-1 visa: for foreign workers and owners wishing to transfer to a new or existing U.S. business
- E2 and E1 visa permit: for investors and traders.
- H-1B visa permit: for specialty occupations
- H-2B visa permit: for non-agricultural workers
- EB-1 Green Card: Outstanding Researcher or Professor immigrant visa classification
- EB-2 Green Card Permit: Based on Exceptional Ability.
- EB-3 Green Card Permit: Professionals, Skilled and Other Worker
- EB-4 Green Card Permit: Special immigrants including religious workers
Exchange Visitor Visa: J-1 Visa Permit Holiday Work Visa
This business visitor visa is known as a nonimmigrant visa which is available for individuals approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs, including by business sponsors. This permit allows visitors to experience life in the US before returning to their home countries.
Temporary Skilled Worker Visa: H1-B Visa Permit
Temporary Non-Agricultural Work Visa: H-2B Visa
The H-2B Visa is available for foreign workers in non-agricultural fields to work in the United States, given that there is an insufficient number of natural US born citizens to fill the position. H-2B visas are usually for temporary jobs, though not agricultural. Some examples of these occupations would be sponsored jobs at truck drivers, ski mountains, hotels, beach resorts, or amusement parks.
Seasonal Agricultural Worker Visas: H2-A Visa
The H2-A visas are available for foreign agricultural workers who want to work in the United States on a seasonal or temporary basis, provided that there is a shortage of domestic American workers.
TN Visa: Nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has opened the doors for Canadians and Mexicans seeking to enter the United States markets by providing a “fast track” basis for U.S. visas through the TN visa. Only citizens are eligible for a TN visa; permanent residents or landed immigrants can not apply. There are a few occupations that are allowed for the TN visa but if your job offer is not one of the listed occupations, call us, we may be able to help you!
US Work Permit Requirements
- Passport(s) valid for 60 days beyond the expiration date printed on the immigrant visa.
- Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
- Two (2) 2×2 photographs.
- Civil Documents for the applicant.
- Financial Support. At your immigrant visa interview, you must demonstrate to the consular officer that you will not become a public charge in the United States.
- Completed Medical Examination Forms
Embassy or Consulate Requirements
You will be required to visit your local embassy or consulate for an interview. Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided
Processing Time for US Work Permit
The processing time for US work permits range depending on the type of visa you are applying for and where the application is processed.
For example if you are applying for an H-1B visa and it is being processed through the California center it can take 8 to 10.5 months. If you applied for the same visa out of the Vermont service center it would take 6.5 to 8.5 months.
We recommend always consulting your immigration professional to get a better estimate of how long your US work permit application will take.
Visit our page on US Visa Processing Times for 2021 to learn more.
Turning a Work Visa into a Green Card
Having a US work visa can lead to becoming a Canadian permanent resident through several paths.
You can obtain an Employment Based Green Card first which will give you permanent residency in the United States. If you don’t have an employment based green card and just a U.S. work visa there are some ways to obtain permanent residency.
1. Have an Employer Sponsor You for PR
If you have been hired in the U.S. under your work visa and the company/employer appreciates your work, they could sponsor you for PR. This would significantly speed up and simplify the conversion to a green card.
2. Invest Money for an EB-5
There are several ways to invest your money into the United States with exchange for an EB-5. An EB-5 is an employment based green card allowing the individual permanent residency.
3. Family Sponsorship
Do you have a family member who is a US Citizen or US permanent resident? They can sponsor you to become a permanent resident of the United States.
What About an Employment Based Green Card?
Permanent residents, other known as green card holders, are non-US citizens who are authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. Many people obtain their green card through a family based green card or employment based green card. Each year many applicants are awarded green cards in employment based categories. These groups are divided into five sections EB-1 Green Card, EB-2 Green Card, EB-3 Green Card, EB-4 Green Card and EB-5 Green Card:
EB-1 Green Card: Priority Workers
EB-2 Green Card: Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability
EB-3 Green Card: Skilled or professional workers
EB-4 Green Card: Special Immigrants
EB-5 Green Card: Investors (Employment Creation)
International entrepreneurs who can invest $1,000,000 and create at least ten new full-time jobs. It is possible in certain limited situations that an investment of $500,000 if it creates at least five new jobs, may be acceptable. If you are an employer (or prospective employer) and you want to sponsor a foreign worker to become a permanent resident based on a permanent job offer, you and the foreign worker need to go through a multi-step process to become a sponsoring employer.
Working in America on a Student Visa
Students studying in the United States on a student permit may work on campus, but they are not authorized to work off-campus during their first academic year in their program. After their first academic year, foreigners on US student visas can engage in three types of off-campus employment:
Can I Get Denied a Work Permit?
Yes. There are three reasons that your work permit may be denied. The first is if you filled out the work permit application form (I-765) incorrectly, forgot to sign it, or left out a required element. The second, less common reason for denial is that your green card application is processed so quickly that you already have an approved green card before your work permit application is finished being processed. This is a good (if rare) problem to have, since once you have a green card, you don’t need a separate work permit in order to legally work. The last reason is that you weren’t deemed eligible at this time and you do not qualify for this specific permit.
Why Seeking Professional Help is Essential
With so many applicants each year from around the world vying for U.S. Work Permits, it is important to get experienced legal help that will ensure your application package has the best chance of being accepted. Missed or incorrect details can result in a failed bid, which can be heartbreaking if they could have been easily avoided if prepared by an immigration professional . The stakes are high. If your application is refused, your case will be permanently recorded on the U.S. Immigration database. Therefore it is essential to get it right the first time!
The documentation and processes involved in successfully obtaining a U.S. work visa for a foreign beneficiary are complex and usually require legal expertise.
Do You Need a US Work Visa?
If you want to ensure your best chances at getting an approval on your US work visa application, then we recommend you book a consultation with us to understand your options. We have helped thousands and thousands of workers successfully enter the US on a work permit, and we can help you too!