Stay updated with our legal articles, tips and more


Types of U.S. Work Visas

December 9, 2019 in Employer Work Visas Employment Immigration US Immigration Law


Permanent and temporary U.S. work visa options.

Many foreign nationals want to work in the United States, and many companies in the US are seeking to grow their pool of talent.  This is a list of the most frequently obtained work visas in order to help point readers in the right direction as to which visa, they or their workers may qualify for.  

We’ll review both immigrant visas (permanent employment work visas) and nonimmigrant visas (temporary employment work visas). 

Nonimmigrant Visas 

The following are temporary work visas that will allow you to work in the U.S. for a specific employer. 

  • H-1B 

The H-1B visa is a popular nonimmigrant visa. In fact, more people want them than can get them, owing to annual caps on the supply in most cases. To qualify, you will need a U.S. employer to sponsor you. 

To obtain an H-1B, you must have an offer of employment from a U.S. employer. Your proposed job position must be in a specialty occupation, which means that a bachelor’s degree or higher is required to do the job. The U.S. employer must sponsor you for the H-1B visa by filing an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because this type of visa is in high demand, you might want an attorney to help you through the process

  • L-1 

The L-1 nonimmigrant visa is for employees who work for a foreign company that is an affiliate of a U.S. company. L-1 employees are transferred from the foreign company branch to the U.S. company branch. Or, the L-1 employee can be transferred by the foreign company to the U.S. in order to establish a U.S. office. The employee must have worked in a specialized, executive, or managerial capacity and must be transferred to the U.S. to work in a specialized, executive, or managerial capacity. 

In either scenario, the L-1 employee must have worked for the foreign affiliate for one continuous year within the past three years immediately preceding entry into the United States. To qualify, you will need a U.S. employer to sponsor you  

  • O-1 

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for aliens of extraordinary ability who are coming to the U.S. to work in their field of expertise. To obtain an O-1 visa, you must have an offer of employment from a U.S. employer and prove that you are extraordinary in your field. 

To prove you are extraordinary, you must meet three of six characteristics. These include earning a high salary (remuneration), making original contributions to your field, receiving achievements/awards, and performance in a lead/starring/critical role in your field. 

  • E-1 

The E-1 nonimmigrant visa allows nationals of certain countries to come to the U.S. in order to carry on trade activities. You can obtain the E-1 visa as a Treaty Trader or a Treaty Investor. You must be a national of a country that maintains a trade treaty with the U.S., and you must establish that you are coming to the U.S. pursuant to that treaty to carry on substantial trade. 

Also, if you want to come as a Treaty Investor, you have to invest a substantial amount of money in a U.S. business, and prove that you are coming to the U.S. to develop that investment. Typically, you apply for an E-1 visa at the U.S. consulate in your home country, and you do not file any documents with USCIS.  

  • TN 

The TN visa was created by NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). The TN visa allows only Canadian and Mexican citizens to come to the U.S. to work for a U.S. employer. 

To qualify for a TN visa, you must prove that you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico, that you have a job offer with a U.S. employer, and that your position qualifies for the TN visa under NAFTA. Examples include accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. To qualify, you will need a U.S. employer to sponsor you 

Immigrant Visas 

If you come to the U.S. with an immigrant visa, you will receive permanent residence upon U.S. entry and your actual green card soon after. 

The following are immigrant work visas that will allow you to work and live in the U.S. permanently. 

  • EB-1 Extraordinary Ability 

The extraordinary ability visa is included in the employment-based 1st preference immigrant category (EB-1). Few foreign nationals qualify for extraordinary ability visas, because you have to demonstrate that you are in the top of your profession and that you have sustained international or national acclaim in your field. 

To do so, you must demonstrate that you meet three of ten characteristics showing extraordinary ability. These include the publication of scholarly articles, publications about you or your work, awards, critical role for a leading organization, membership in professional associations, original contributions, high remuneration, showcases or exhibitions of your work, judging of the work of others, and commercial success in the performing arts. 

  • EB-1 Multinational Executive 

The multinational executive visa is also included in the employment-based 1st preference immigrant category (EB-1) and is a little like an immigrant version of the L-1 nonimmigrant visa. To qualify, you will need a U.S. employer to sponsor you 

  • EB-2 Advanced Degree 

The advanced degree category is in the employment-based second preference immigrant category (EB-2). To qualify, you will need a U.S. employer to sponsor you. 

Your employer will need to complete the PERM certification process. You will need to possess at least a U.S. Master’s degree (or foreign equivalent), and you will need to demonstrate that your offered job position requires at least a U.S. master’s degree. You can have a Bachelor’s degree and 5 years of relevant work experience or a Master’s or higher to qualify under EB-2. 

If you are interested in information about the program contact us here.  

Related Articles

How We Can Help You

Take some time to explain the nature of your needs and we will do our best to reach out to you and collect more information on your legal circumstances. Our team is ready to help you in the best way possible.