Work Visas

There are many different options for temporary visas based on employment in the United States.  These visas authorize a foreign national to work in the U.S. for a period of time.  Most of these visas also allow the person to bring their spouse and children to the United States.

U.S. immigration law provides many different types of temporary work visas.  Global Justice Law Group provides advice and assistance on the following types of temporary work visas:

  • H-1B Professionals
  • L-1A Multinational Manager
  • L-1B Specialized Knowledge Transferee
  • O-1 Extraordinary Ability
  • TN Canadians & Mexicans
  • J-1 Students and Waivers

The information below summarizes some major criteria for many of temporary work visas, including the qualifications, the application process, the job duties, the length of stay, and whether extensions of stay are allowed.

H-1B Professionals

  • Qualifications: Requires a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specialized occupation.  The employer must pay the prevailing wage and working conditions.
  • Application Process: Employer files petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: The position must be a “specialty occupation,” requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specialized field.
  • Length of Stay: Usually 3 year term.
  • Extensions: May be renewed in three year increments for up to six years, with some exceptions.

L-1A Multinational Executive/Manager

  • Qualifications: Executives or managers who have worked overseas for a U.S. parent, subsidiary, or affiliate.
  • Application Process: Employer files petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: Must be an executive or manager, managing people or a “function” of the company.
  • Length of Stay: Up to 3 years for an  existing U.S. office.  If the US office is new, initial term is one year.
  • Extensions: May be renewed for up to seven years, in two year increments.

L-1B Multinational Employees

  • Qualifications: “Specialized knowledge” employee who have worked overseas for a U.S. parent, subsidiary.
  • Application Process: Employer files petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: Must have an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.      
  • Length of Stay: Up to 3 years for existing U.S. offices.  For new US office, the initial term is one year.
  • Extensions: May be renewed for up to five years, in two year increments.

TN NAFTA

  • Qualifications: Canadians or Mexicans working in an occupation specified in the NAFTA treaty.
  • Application Process: Canadians may apply at a US port or border.   Mexicans must file a Labor Condition Application with the DOL and a petition with the USCIS.
  • Job Duties: Job must be one listed in the NAFTA Treaty. 
  • Length of Stay: One year.  May be renewed for additional one year increments.
  • Extensions: No limit to the number of extensions, but must intend to leave the United States.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability

  • Qualifications: Must possess “extraordinary ability” in the field.               
  • Application Process: An employer or agent files a petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: May perform activities related to the field in which the foreign national shows “extraordinary ability.”
  • Length of Stay: Up to 3 years.     May be extended in increments of up to 1 year.
  • Extensions: There is no time limit, but most foreign nationals apply for permanent residency if they want to stay here a long time.

O-2 Support Staff

  • Qualifications: Support staff accompanying and assisting in the performance of an O-1 visa holder.
  • Application Process: An employer or agent files a petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: Must be integral to the performance, have critical skills and experience not possessed by US worker, and a working relationship with the O-1 alien.
  • Length of Stay: Up to 3 years.     May be extended in increments of up to 1 year.
  • Extensions: There is no time limit, but most foreign nationals apply for permanent residency if they want to stay here a long time.

J-1 Exchange Visitor

  • Qualifications: Promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences.
  • Application Process: Requires authorized sponsor in program approved by US State Department.  Applicant applies for visa at US consulate.               
  • Job Duties: May be a student, au pair, student, physician, researcher, trainee, or teacher.
  • Length of Stay: Usually 3 year term.
  • Extensions: May extend for 6 months; longer extensions are very rare. Generally need to switch to a different visa to stay longer.

P-1, P-2 and P-3 Artists and Athletes

  • Qualifications: Athletes, artists and entertainers entering the U.S. for a specific event, competition or performance.
  • Application Process: An employer or agent files a petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: Must perform in the sports competition, exchange program, or cultural event.
  • Length of Stay: Up to 5 years for Individual athletes; Up to one year for athletic groups and entertainment groups.
  • Extensions: 5 year extensions up to 10 years for individual athletes.  1 year extensions for athletic groups and entertainment groups.

Q-1 Cultural Exchange

  • Qualifications: Must be participant in an USCIS-approvedinternational cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and and sharing the history, culture, and traditions of the participant’s home country.
  • Application Process: Employer files a petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: Must participate in the exchange program activities. 
  • Length of Stay: Up to 15 months.
  • Extensions: No extensions are allowed.

R-1 Religious Worker

  • Qualifications: Member of a religious denomination, with nonprofit status in the US for at least two years before the application date.
  • Application Process: Church employer files petition at USCIS. If the foreign national is outside the US, the approval notice is submitted to a US consulate for a visa.
  • Job Duties: Must work as a minister or professional in a religious vocation or occupation and work for a bona fide nonprofit religious organization.              
  • Length of Stay: Up to 3 years.
  • Extensions: May extend in increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years. May apply for permanent residency to stay longer.
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