U.S. Work Visa: How to Get One?
A work visa to the United States may be an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. The second option is the most frequent and is more popular. But there are certain restrictions even for it. The U.S. government sets annual quotas for the total number of foreign workers that U.S. companies may hire. Citizens of countries with which the United States has special trade relations have an advantage.
How to obtain a US Work Permit
The most important thing in the process of obtaining a U.S. work visa is to find an employer who will be ready to draw up all the necessary documents in order to hire you. For most types of visas, a potential employer will file a petition on Form I-129, for which they will need a number of documents from you (a diploma, CV, and some others). When the petition is ready, the employer will receive notification of its approval (Form I-797).
You must then apply for a work visa to the United States. To do so, you will need to pay a consular fee ($190), fill out the DS-160 application form, and undergo an interview at the Embassy.
In case of a successful outcome, you will be issued a visa for 3 years, which can be further extended. The total period of stay is limited to 6 years. Afterwards you can apply for a Green Card (residence permit).
One of the most important points in the whole process is the choice of visa type. Incorrect choice of visa type will be the reason for refusal.
It is extremely important to have a higher education corresponding to the position. To successfully complete the visa process, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in a field directly related to your future work. In exceptional cases, extensive work experience in a specialty may play a positive role.
Types of work visas to the United States and their features
- C-1D, or "seafarer's visa" - is not exactly what can be called a "working" visa. It can be claimed by crew members of ships or aircraft, the route of which at least partially passes through the U.S. territory. In this case, the employer may not be an American company.
- H-1B - this visa is intended for qualified specialists. It is suitable to employees whose specialization requires certain skills and qualifications: engineers, architects, accountants, IT-specialists. Registration of petition I-129 before applying for such a visa is a mandatory condition.
- H-2B - is for temporary and seasonal workers (except agricultural workers) who are applying for vacancies for which there is a lack of American applicants.
- H-2A is the same as H-2B, but only for seasonal agricultural workers.
- L-1 - This visa is issued to employees of foreign affiliates of U.S. companies if they need to be relocated to the United States. It is intended only for managers or highly qualified employees who have worked in the company for at least 1 year.
- O - visas for persons with outstanding abilities in various fields: science, art, sports, education, business, etc., as well as for their assistants.
- P - this type of visa is intended for artists, athletes and other eminent persons. In comparison with O visas, for visa P it is necessary to indicate that the visit is planned in the framework of professional activity.
In addition there are a number of other less popular types of work visas, such as I (for journalists), J (visas for exchange programs), R (for religious figures), etc.
For a work visa applicant, the most important thing is to show that they are qualified, educated, and experienced enough for their position. Depending on the type of visa, different documents are required, but the most generalized list looks like this:
- Form I-129 (or Form I-797): an invitation from an employer.
- Diploma in the specialty in which you plan to work in America. At least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent is required
- Certificates and other documents from past work that demonstrate your experience and professional skills.
- A employment contract concluded between an employee and the company.
Also be sure to bring a printout of your interview invitation letter, the DS-160 Application Confirmation page, recent photograph, a valid passport and all passports previously issued to you.