What Is a US Temporary Work Visa?

A temporary worker is an individual seeking to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrants enter the United States for a temporary period of time, and once in the United States, are restricted to the activity or reason for which their nonimmigrant visa was issued.

US Temporary Worker Visa Categories

Visa category

Description – About an individual in this category:

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.

H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional - Chile, Singapore

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa. For application procedures, please refer to the website for the U.S. Embassy in Chile or the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.)

H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker

For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor

To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee's home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge. Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years.

For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group

To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

For practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

How To Apply for a Temporary Work Visa in the US (EAD)

There are 4 main steps to apply for an EAD (electronic authorization document): Filing the I-765, pay the fees, upload photos, and provide documents proving you're eligible. Before doing any of these steps it is important to know you are eligible or else you could be wasting time and money. Find out if you're eligible for a US Work Visa first.

Filing the I-129 Form

The I-129 Form is a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. This form must be filed on your behalf by a prospective employer and be approved by USCIS. Some temporary worker categories are limited in a total number of petitions which can be approved on a yearly basis. Before you apply for a temporary worker visa the I-129 form must be approved first.

2. Complete Online Visa Application

After your I-129 form has been approved by USCIS you can apply for one of the temproary worker visa categories. You will need to complete the online visa application which is the DS-160 Form. While you're filling out the DS-160 Form you will need to upload your photo to the application as well. Learn about the Digital Image Requirements. You must complete the online application and print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.

3. Schedule Your Immigration Interview

You will generally schedule your immigration visa interview at the closest US Embassy or Consulate. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age:

Then an interview is:

13 and younger

Generally not required

14 - 79

Required (some exceptions for renewals)

80 and older

Generally not required

4. Prepare Required Documents for a Temporary Work Visa

You will want to gather and prepare the required documents before your interview. The following items are required for you to bring to your interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Receipt Number for your approved petition as it appears on your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, from USCIS.
  • L Visa Applicants – If you are included in an L blanket petition, you must bring Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, to your interview.

All visa applicants, except H-1B and L, will generally need to show proof of compelling ties to your home country to demonstrate your intent to return after your temporary stay in the United States. Examples of compelling ties include:

  • A residence abroad which you do not intend to abandon
  • Your family relationships
  • Your economic situation
  • Your long term plans

Extending Your US Work Visa

If you're intending to extend your stay in the US to continue working you will need file a request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status before your authorized stay expires. If you remain in the United States longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning and/or you may be removed (deported) from the United States. Check the date in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94. The USCIS recommends that you extend your stay at least 45 days before your stay is expired.

Changing Your Status from Temporary Worker in the US

If you are working in the US and want to change your status to another nonimmigrant category you must file a request with USCIS on the appropriate form before your authorized stay expires. In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.

US Temporary Work Visa Questions and Answers

How much does a US work visa cost?

Employment-Based Immigration Applications cost $345.00 USD in addition to the petition. Other immigration applications (such as self-petitioning) cost $205.00 USD.

Can a job sponsor an immigrant?

Once you sponsor an immigrant, that person will come to the United States to begin working for your company. The employee will then have the option of applying for permanent residency, commonly referred to as a green card.

Can I work in the USA as a UK citizen?

If you wish to work in the United States for a temporary period you will require a nonimmigrant work visa. You cannot work on a visitor or business visa, or under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Unlike some countries, the United States government does not issue work visas for casual employment.

How long does the US work visa last?

How long the work permit lasts depends on your current immigration status, or what type of visa you are here on. Most EADs are valid for one year. However, no person will be given a work permit that lasts longer than their permitted stay in the United States.

Is it easy to get a work visa for the USA?

The US has designed various types of visas to facilitate foreign nationals to work in America. However, the applicant must apply for the USA Work Visa based on the type of work and occupation. Each USA Work Visa has its own requirements, conditions and approved periods of stay.

Can I get the US work visa without a job offer?

You cannot apply for a work visa on your own without a job offer. You must first have a job offer from a U.S. employer who will sponsor you for a work visa. Thousands of Canadian citizens move to the United States each year for employment.

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 a professional immigration expert. 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.

The first step towards a successful H-1B application is getting an assessment of your case. Fill out our immigration assessment form and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and options.

Customer Reviews

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