Understanding The Different Employment Visa Options

Coming to the United States can be notoriously difficult, and the current political climate does not appear to be making it easier anytime soon.  For individuals who are interested in coming to the US for business purposes there are still many options available, and knowing the differences between them is critically important to successfully applying for an employment visa. An employment-based immigration attorney can help.

Types of Nonimmigrant Work Visas

Nonimmigrant visas are “temporary” visas, meaning they will expire after a certain amount of time and the visa holder will have to leave the United States.  Most employment-related visas are nonimmigrant visas.  Here are some common examples:

  • H-1B Visas

H-1B visas are designed to help businesses recruit skilled workers that they can’t find in the United States, so they are intended for workers with specialized knowledge in their fields.  That means applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, an advanced degree, or the equivalent to be considered.  They must also have an offer of employment from an employer in the US.  H-1B visas are one of the most common types of work visas.  The government actually receives so many applications for H-1B visas that there is a limit or “cap” each year on the number of visas available.  However, there are a number of exceptions that can allow an application to be considered even after the limit has been reached.  Because H-1B visas are so competitive, it is important to have the advice of a qualified attorney when preparing to apply.

  • L-1 Visas

L-1 visas are designed to help US businesses that are associated with foreign businesses transfer workers across international boundaries.  Most L-1 visas are for workers transferring from an established branch of a foreign company to an established branch of a US company, although visas are also available for foreign workers coming to the US to found a new US branch.  L-1 visa applicants must have worked for their company for at least one continuous year within the three years leading up to the date they are requesting entry into the United States.

  • O-1 Visas

O-1 visas are for workers who have “extraordinary abilities” in a number of fields, including the sciences, education, business, athletics, the arts, and motion pictures and television.  In order to prove that an applicant has extraordinary abilities, they must have either won a prestigious international award (like a Nobel Prize) in their field, or otherwise show evidence that the applicant is among the very top of his or her field.  This evidence can include factors like publishing professional materials in major trade journals or publications, major original contributions to their fields, receiving unusually high salaries or compensation for their services, and being employed in prestigious positions at significant institutions.

  • TN Visas

TN visas were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and are only available to Canadian and Mexican citizens.  They offer many advantages over H-1B visas, such as being renewable indefinitely.  The application process is also generally faster and simpler.  Like an H-1B visa, however, applicants must already have an offer of employment from a US Posted in Uncategorized