By: Richard Hanus
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Guide to US Work Visas and Eligibility Requirements
Are you interested in working in the United States? You aren’t alone. There are millions of other people that are trying to work in America.
If you want to work in the United States, you need a US work visa. Getting a visa can seem intimidating when you’re not familiar with the process. But luckily, we’re here to help.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about the different kind of visas you can get and eligibility requirements.
Who Can’t Get a US Work Visa
It’s important to know the factors that could affect your ability to get a work visa before you apply. If you find that you fall into any of these categories, getting a visa could be very difficult.
If you have a criminal conviction in your home country there is a chance you’ll be ineligible to get a work visa. People with previous U.S. immigration law violations may also face legal hurdles in applying for a visa.
Health risks are an important factor in visa approval. If you have an infectious disease or haven’t been vaccinated, it’s very possible your visa application will be denied.
It’s important to note that it in many cases you will be able to complete a waiver application to excuse certain ineligibility requirements, but these are subject to great scrutiny and are granted only under certain sets of circumstances.
US Work Visa Types
Before we get started, we should mention that you may want legal help when you’re applying for your visa.
If you have any questions about the visa process, it’s always a good idea to consult an immigration lawyer that can make sure that you’re taking all of the right steps.
The type of visa you may be eligible for will depend on a variety of factors. The kind of work you do, your relationship with your employer, and even your country of origin will be taken into consideration.
If you’re applying for work in the United States, you could apply for some of the following visas.
Exchange Visitor Visas
U.S. Exchange Visitor (J) Non-Immigrant visas are designed for people that are approved to participate in work and study-based exchange visitor programs.
A wide variety of people can apply for this kind of visa. Doctors and professors could get an exchange visitor visas, but so could au pairs and even camp counselors.
Nearly everyone in all facets of academia can get these visas. Professors, scholars in certain subjects, and of course students could use these visas to continue their studies in the United States.
Temporary Work Visas (Non-Agricultural)
U.S. Temporary Non-Agricultural (H-2B) Visas are available for foreign workers in non-agricultural fields to work in the United States. These visas are usually given for jobs that require non-skilled domestic labor.
It isn’t unusual for seasonal vacation spots like hotels, ski lodges, beach resorts, and amusement parks to rely on works with visas during their busy season.
The demand for these jobs can be low for people in the United States because they aren’t permanent positions.
It’s also important to note that there is a limit on the amount of these visas that can be distributed each year.
Currently, Congress set the H-2B cap for 66,000 each fiscal year. If you’re concerned about getting one, be sure to start your application process as soon as possible.
Temporary Work Visas (Skilled)
If you’re an educated individual with a specialized job, you’ll most likely be applying for a U.S. H1-B Non-Immigrant Visa. They are designed for foreign workers to temporarily work for a specific employer in the US.
Like with the H-2B visa, there are only a certain amount of these distributed each year. And these have a few more requirements.
In order to apply for these, you need to work in a specific in-demand occupation. You’ll also need an interested employer to offer you a professional type of position that will file the appropriate visa petition and documentation. Further, you will need to be paid at or above the prevailing wage for the job. These visas are typically reserved for white collar jobs.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Visa?
If you’re wondering how long it’ll take to get a work visa, you should know that there’s no right answer.
The USCIS website does have a useful tool you can use to estimate your wait time, but even the number they provide is a rough estimate at best.
The kind of visa you applied for could affect how long it takes to get processed. Some visas are less complicated than others.
The accuracy of the information you provide could also affect how long it takes you to get your visa. Something as small as misspelling a name or leaving out contact information could easily delay the visa process.
Regardless of how long it takes to process, it’s always good to idea to give yourself as much time as possible to apply.
US Visa TipsIf you’re applying for a work visa, you’re going to want the process to go as smoothly as possible. Here are some of our tips that could make getting your visa a little easier and stress-free.
Get Your Documents in Order
You’re going to need a lot of documents if you want to get your visa. Make things easier on yourself by getting everything together ahead of time.
Among the documents to gather are your educational credentials, your proof of work experience and your birth certificate. If you have an existing relationship with your employer, you may need to show paystubs as proof of employment but even more important, is a plan to prepare and timely file necessary visa petition documentation.
Be sure to get copies of every important document. You’ll want them for your own records, and will want to send use copies of supporting documentation, as opposed to originals, when submitting the visa petition package is filed.
Figure out Payment
The amount you pay for your visa will depend on the visa type you’re applying for. Make sure you know how much you need before you start the process.
In most cases a petitioning employer is legally required to cover visa processing fees. Be sure to ask them before you make any payment arrangements on your own.
Get the Help You Need
Getting a US work visa may take a little time, but the process is a lot easier when you know what to expect ahead of time.
You should never hesitate to get legal help in these situations. A lawyer can help answer any questions you may have and guide you through the entire process.
If you want help during the visa process, contact us today so we can help.