HomeUS VisaUS Work Visas - All You Need to Know

US Work Visas – All You Need to Know

Foreign Nationals who intend to work in the United States are issued Work Visas. If you want to work temporarily or permanently in the US, you may need one of these work visas outlined in this article. If you have the in-demand skills, suitable qualifications and expertise, you can easily become a Citizen of the US through some of these work visas.

This guide analyses the most common types of US work visas and those eligible for each of them. If you pay close attention to this article, you will discover the work visa type that is most suitable for you.

Types of Work Visas

Work Visas can be classified into 4 categories:

  • US Permanent Immigrant Work Visas
  • US Temporary non-immigrant Work Visas
  • Student Visas
  • Temporary Business Visas

1. US Permanent Work Visas

With the combination of in-demand skills, qualifications and expertise, a foreign national can gain a permanent residence status in the US by seeking a permanent work visa.

Here are the 5 common types of permanent work Visas:

EB-1 Visas (First Preference)

EB-1 visas do not require any labour certificate but you must have outstanding recognition in your career field to be issued an EB-1 Visa. For example, outstanding professors, researchers or multinational Managers can be issued an EB-1 visa.

EB-2 Visas (Second Preference)

EB-2 visas are issued to professionals that meet any of these requirements:

  • Members of the professions hold an advanced degree or its equal.
  • A foreign national with exceptional abilities

EB-3 Visas (Third Preference)

This category is for professionals, as well as skilled and unskilled workers. However, to be qualified for an EB-3 visa, you must have a labour certification and a permanent, full-time job offer in the US.

EB-4 Visas (Fourth Presence)

This is an immigrant work visa issued to “special immigrants”. If you’re issued this visa, you can enjoy the privileges due to being permanent residents of the US. Immigrant Juveniles, some religious workers, Afghan or Iraqi translators employed in the US Armed forces, etc are considered as special immigrants.

EB-5 Visas (Fifth Preference)

This work visa allows qualified investors and their family members to obtain permanent residency in the United States through an investment of $500,000 or more.

You can get a permanent green card through EB-5 Visa. Labour certification is not required for this type of Visa

2. US Temporary Work Visas

Temporary work visas are non-immigrant visas issued to foreign nationals who want to enter the United States for employment for a fixed period of time. A Temporary Work visa has a duration—when it expires, its holders are expected to return to their home country or renew it, if applicable.

To apply for a temporary work visa, prospective employers are required to file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of their potential foreign employee.

Here are the common types of temporary work visas:

H-1B visas

These visas are issued to people in specialty occupations. To be eligible for an H-1B Visa, you should have a high education degree or a certification that’s equal. The prospective employer must prove that he or she couldn’t find any qualified US citizens for the job openings before filing a petition for a prospective employee.

Requirements for H1-1B Visas

To qualify for this visa, you must:

  • Have a job offer from a US employer for a role that requires specialty knowledge
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or an equal certification in that field.

H-2A Visas

Also known as Agricultural work visas, H-2A visas are issued to foreign nationals who are qualified for seasonal agricultural works in the US. These work visas are usually valid for one year.

Requirements for H-2A Visas

The prospective employer must meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the US.

  • You must be skilled in the agricultural sector

H-2B visas

H-2B is also issued to seasonal workers but in a non-agricultural setting. They are also known as non-agricultural work visas.

H-3 Visas

H-3 Visas are issued to trainees or special education exchange visitors, who intend to perform their job outside the US. This excludes graduates in medical school or training.

I Visas

I visas are issued to members of the foreign press. This includes film crews, editors or related occupations that have a home office in a foreign country.

L Visas

L Visas are issued to those who are transferring within a company at which they already work, on a temporary basis. It includes L-1A which is valid for 3 years and an L-1B visa valid for 1 year.

O Visas

O visas are specifically issued to persons with extraordinary and outstanding abilities or achievements in various industries. This work Visa can be extended to the Visa holder’s family members or those who travel with them.

P Visas

P visas are issued to people who excel in performance, athletic, or artistic endeavours. It is also issued to those who accompany these outstanding performers. The validity of this Visa relies on the duration of the event.

R1 Visas

R1 Visas are issued to Religious workers who intend to practice within the US, temporarily.


This work visa is issued to NAFTA professionals from Canada and Mexico to allow them to work In prearranged business ventures for US employers.

3. Student Visas

Student Visas are issued to these 3 categories of students:

  • Academic students (F-1 Visa)
  • Vocational and Non-Academic students (M-1 visa)
  • Students enrolled in educational or cultural exchange programs (J-1 Visa)

F-1 visas

F-1 visas are non-immigrant visas issued to Foreign academic students that want to attend educational institutions in the United States. F-1 Visa holders are permitted to work in the US with some restrictions; they are only permitted to work on campus.

However, after their 1st academic year, F-1 students may be allowed to work off-campus. Family members of the F-1 Visa can apply for F-2 visas.

M-1 Visas

M-1 visas are issued to foreign students who want to enrol in Vocational and Non-Academic Education in the United States. M-1 Visa holders are permitted to work on campus.

J-1 Visa

J Visas are issued to those who engage in programs that promote cultural exchange such as sports exchanges. Dependents of the J-1 visa holder are issued J-2 visas.

4. Temporary Visit for Business

These visas are issued to persons who intend to travel to the US for short-termed business purposes. For instance, if you’re attending a business meeting or pursuing a contract, or attending a convention in the US, you will need one of these business visas:

  • B-1 visas
  • GB Temporary visitor to Guam visas for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands
  • WB Temporary business visitor under Visa Waiver program

How Do I Apply For Work Visas?

Application for work visas is similar to the general Visa application procedures. If you are eligible for any of the above-mentioned work visas, you should apply following the procedures below:

  • Complete the DS-160 Application form
  • Print out the confirmation page
  • Schedule your interview
  • Go for your interview
  • Pay additional fees (if applicable)

You can find details on these procedures in our previous post on US Visa Application.

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