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Work Visas in the United States

Work Visas:

There is a multitude of visas available for non-immigrants looking for temporary work, many of which become very specific. There are visas designated for migrant workers, North American Free Trade Agreement workers, specialized professionals, entertainers, athletes and even wide categories that grant visas to people based upon their generally good repute. The application process for all of these visas is very similar.

The H-1B Visa:

By far the most popular of work visas in the United States, the H-1B work visa allows foreign nationals to work in the United States for up to six years. However, it isn't the length of time afforded to visa seekers that makes it popular. The H-1B visa allows applicants to dual intent, which means that they can concurrently hold the work visa and attempt to get a green card.

While you are applying for an H-1B visa, your family can apply for an H-4 visa so that they can live with you while you work in the United States. However, people holding an H-4 visa are not allowed to work while in the country.

What your Employer Should Do:

In order to get a temporary work visa, an employer in the United States must fill out and submit the I-129 form to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services within six months of the start of work. For an H-1B application the employer must also submit a Labor Condition Application to the Department of Labor.

H-1B Temporary Worker Visa Applicant Qualifications:

The H-1B visa is granted to applicants who qualify as being in a specialty occupation. This means that a certain amount of education and experience is required. Generally this visa requires the applicant to have a bachelor's degree or higher to qualify. If you happen to work in a profession for a long enough time and the job is complicated enough you might not need a degree in higher education to be granted a H-1B visa.

Note: A copy of your final transcript or equivalent document must be submitted as proof of your education to obtain an H-1B visa.

H-1B Temporary Worker Visa Cap:

The United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services only accept a certain amount of visa petitions for the year for the H-1B, so it is very important that the employer file the appropriate forms as early as possible. The general cap for this visa is 65,000, but there are exceptions made in the context of higher education. There are 20,000 additional visas available to workers with United States master's degrees or higher degrees.

Applying for an H-1B Visa:

After the USCIS has approved your employer's application it is then time for you to apply for your visa. The process is very similar to the application of any other visa and may already be familiar to you. You still have to apply for a visa at the embassy or consulate office in your home country and attend the appropriate interview. However, you will need the receipt number from the approved I-129 form in order to receive your visa.

In order to get your visa you will also have to have certain documents. The DS-160 form is an online visa application form offered by the United States Department of state and must be completed in order to schedule an interview at the consular office. You will also need your passport (that is the whole point of this, right?) and one two inch by two inch photograph. Procuring these photographs is very similar to getting a passport photograph. Local photographers will know what to do.

Additionally, before you take your interview you must pay an application fee of $190. After your interview you will need to pay a visa issuance fee which is based upon multiple factors including your country of origin.

Note: During the application process for the H-1B visa, unlike some other visas, it is not necessary to demonstrate that you are not abandoning your country of origin.

Your Rights in the United States:

During your stay, you should know that you do have rights in our country and you should take the time to become familiar with these rights.

Rights and Protections of temporary workers

The pamphlet in the hyperlink above is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog and Ukrainian.