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The United States has the world’s largest economy and has sustained success due in part to the wonderful immigrants who come to work in the U.S. For qualified foreigners, there are a number of different work visa options you can get. This page will serve as a guide to help educate you on the different types and the process it typically takes, and how an employment visa lawyer can help you get to the U.S. for various types of employment.
Overview of Employment-Based Immigrant Visas
According to the U.S. State Department, every fiscal year “approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories.” These 5 categories of permanent immigrant workers include: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5. We will dissect each of these 5 preferences below.
In addition, a foreigner can obtain temporary non-immigrant visas to work in the USA for a fixed period of time. We will explore each of these types of work visas below.
Types of Work Visas
Permanent Immigrant Work Visas
Let’s review the 5 categories of permanent immigrant work visas in the USA:
1. Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1)
This first preference category is broken down into 3 subcategories:
- Persons with Extraordinary Ability - This type of permanent immigrant worker is extraordinarily gifted in the sciences, arts, education field, business field, or athletics. Persons in this category must show extensive documentation of their international acclaim.
- Outstanding Professors and Researchers - This category includes internationally recognized top professors and researchers with at least 3 years of proven experience in teaching or research. Applicants must be coming to the U.S. with the goal of obtaining tenure or comparable research equivalent in higher education or a similar institution.
- Multinational Business Leaders and Executives - This category is designated for multinational business leaders and executives who have been employed by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of a U.S. employer. This person must be in a manager level or executive level role and must also be coming to the U.S. for a managerial or executive position.
2. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Abilities (EB-2)
The second preference category of permanent immigrant workers generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. This category requires a job offer and the U.S. employer must file form I-140 on behalf of the prospective employee. There are two subcategories in the second preference category:
- Professionals with Advanced Degrees - A person in this category has a degree beyond a Bachelor’s degree and has at least 5 years of professional experience in the prospective field they are trying to obtain in the U.S.
- Persons with Exceptional Abilities - A person in this category has exceptional ability in art, business, or science.
Highly Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (EB-3)
The third preference category of permanent immigrant workers include highly skilled workers, professionals and other workers.
- Skilled workers - Skilled workers are persons who have had at least two years of skilled training
- Professionals - Professionals must have at least a Bachelor’s level of education from a U.S. university / college or a foreign equivalent degree.
- Other Workers - Other workers are persons who are capable of filling a role that requires less than two years of training or experience.
Certain Special Immigrants (EB-4)
The fourth preference category of permanent immigrant workers are special immigrants. Some of these can include:
- Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau
- Religious Ministers / Leaders
- Certain employees or former employees of the U.S. government across the world
- Iraqi / Afghan Interpreters and translators or who provided faithful and valuable services to the U.S.
- Certain foreign medical graduates
You can see the full list here.
5. Immigrant Investors (EB-5)
The final preference category of permanent immigrant workers are immigrant investors. These persons are capital investors in new commercial projects or enterprises in the U.S. which create at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.
Temporary Non-Immigrant Work Visas
Now that we’ve reviewed permanent work visa types, let’s review some of the more popular temporary non-immigrant work visa types.
H-1B Visas are designated for foreign workers in a specific professional or academic field or who have special expertise and a Bachelor’s degree or higher (or equivalent work experience). The maximum length of stay for a H-1B visa holder is three years, although it can be renewed.
H-2A and H-2B Visas
H-2A and H-2B visas are for seasonal temporary workers in an agricultural (H-2A) or non-agricultural (H-2B) role.
H-3 visas are for persons seeking training in any field except for graduate medical school / training.
I Visas are designated for members of the foreign press, such as reporters, film crews, editors, and other similar occupations in the media. These persons represent a foreign media outlet.
L Visas are for persons transferring from a company they already work at for either a management or executive role or through their specialized expertise. A L-1A visa has a three year duration and a L-1B has only one year.
O Visas are designated for individuals with exceptional abilities or achievements across any industry.
P Visas are for individuals who excel in athletics, arts, or performance. They are also designated for persons who accompany these exceptional performers.
R Visas are designated for non-immigrant religious workers whose denomination holds a non-profit status in the U.S.
TN NAFTA visas permit certain Canadian and Mexican citizens to obtain temporary entry into the U.S. to engage in certain business activities who have special expertise, similar to an H-1B visa.
Student Exchange Work Visas
F-1 visas are for students enrolled at an accredited educational institution. As long as the student maintains their course of study, the student with a F-1 visa may work. During the first year, a student cannot work off campus. After the first year, a student can obtain off-campus employment in:
- Curricular Practical Training
- Optional Practical Training
- Science, tech, engineering, or mathematics positions
M Visas are designated for students at recognized non-academic institutions.
The final type of student work visas are J Visas, which are available for students involved in work / study-based programs such as au pairs, interns, trainees, and more.
Temporary Visits for Businesses
The final type of temporary work visas are designated for short-term business purposes.
B-1 Visas are designated for individuals conducting short-term business in the U.S. Typically, the duration of granted stay is between 1 to 6 months.
Do I Need a Work Visa Lawyer?
Obtaining a work visa can be a very complicated process. With a limited number of work visas available, navigating the process and following all the nuances required can be overwhelming. A work visa lawyer will help you on your journey to obtain legal work status, temporary or permanent depending on your situation.
An employment visa lawyer can help you by:
1. Avoiding Mistakes
Filing the right paperwork is a critical step of the process of getting your rights to work in the USA. This paperwork is normally extremely comprehensive and complex, without the guidance of a lawyer, there are a lot of potential mistakes that can disrupt your process entirely or cost you precious time.
2. Exploring Your Work Visa Options
With all of the work visa options available, it can be overwhelming to consider. An experienced Miami Work Visa immigration lawyer can help you explore your best option considering your goals and to ensure your best chance of getting approved.
3. Help You File a Petition
For most work visas, an applicant’s prospective employer or agent must obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. After being approved, the employer must then file form 1-140 with the USCIS for the appropriate employment preference category. Your Work Visa Attorney will help file all the paperwork required, including helping you with advertising for your position if necessary and obtaining the correct evidence to support your petition.
4. Help You File the Visa Application
After USCIS approves your petition in step 3, it is typically sent to the National Visa Center, or NVC. They will assign you a case number for the petition. With an attorney, you will not be required to fill out your form online, as we will prepare this for you. We will help you submit the correct paperwork, fees, and immigrant visa documents (which include application forms, civil documents, and more).
5. Prepare for the Visa Interview
The final step is the visa interview. We will help you prepare and make sure you have all the correct documents with you to give you the best chance of approval.
Hire a Top Employment Visa Lawyer in Miami, Florida
If you are looking to hire a top employment visa lawyer to help you obtain a work visa in the United States, you’ve come to the right place. Immigration Lawyers USA are top immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida and are able to help you navigate the different types of work visas and help you throughout the process of obtaining a work visa. Give Immigration Lawyers USA a call at 305-501-0783 or contact us here to schedule your consultation.