A GUIDE ON IMMIGRATION AND WORKING IN THE US

Working the United States requires a visa. There are several types of work visas, both immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas are visas for permanent residency which allow you to live and work in the United States permanently on a green card. Nonimmigrant visas are visas for temporary stay. Even some student visas allow you to work in the United States. Select from a section below to learn more about US work visas.

Nonimmigrant Visas

Visa Type Description Labor Certification Required Initial Period of Stay Allotted visas for FY 2013
B-1 Business Visitors Temporary business related travel. no ≤90 days undetermined
H-1B Speciality Occupations Work requiring a person with an advanced degree to apply theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge. yes ≤3 years 65,000
H-1B2 DOD Researcher and Development Project Workers Research and development project or co-production project which is provided for under a government-to-government agreement administered by the US Department of Defense. no ≤3 years 100
H-1B3 Fashion Models Work requiring a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. yes ≤3 years 100
H-2A Seasonal Agricultural Workers Work that is temporary or seasonal and agricultural in nature. Only for persons from a designated country. yes ≤3 years undetermined
H-2B Temporary or Season Non-Agricultural Workers Work that is temporary or seasonal and non-agricultural in nature. Only for persons from a designated country. yes ≤3 years 66,000
H-3 Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitors Travel to the US to receive training, other than graduate or medical education training, that is not available in your home country. Or to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program for children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. no ≤2 years 50
I Representatives of Foreign Media Media-related work for employees of a foreign media office or for individuals coming to the United States for the sole purpose of engaging in media-related work. no No Limit undetermined
L Intracompany Transferees For transfer of an employee from a foreign office to an office located in the United States. no ≤3 years undetermined
O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement For individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Or for individuals who have been recognized for extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. no ≤3 years undetermined
P-1 Individual or Team Athletes, or Members of an Entertainment Group To participate in a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a team. Or, to participate in a performance as a member of an entertainment group. no Individual athlete: ≤5 years

Athletic group: ≤1 year

Member of an entertainment group: ≤1 year
25,000
P-2 Artists or Entertainers To perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, participating in a cultural exchange program. no ≤1 year undetermined
P-3 Artists or Entertainers To perform, teach or coach as an artist or entertainer, as an individual or part of a team, in a culturally unique program. no ≤1 year undetermined
Q Cultural Exchange For individuals participating in Exchange Visitor programs designated by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). no ≤15 months undetermined
R-1 Temporary Religious Workers Work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation at a non-profit religious organization. no ≤30 months undetermined
TN NAFTA Professionals Professional work for nationals of Canada or Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). no ≤3 years undetermined

Immigrant Visas

Visa Type Description Labor Certification Required Period of Stay Allotted visas for FY 2013
EB-1 First Preference Employment, Immigrant Visa For individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers and certain multinational executives and managers. yes Permanent residency/ green card 40,040
EB-2 Second Preference Employment, Immigrant Visa For members of the professions requiring advanced degrees. Or individuals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. yes Permanent residency/ green card 40,040
EB-3 Third Preference Employment For professionals and skilled workers (requiring 2 or more years of specific education, training, or experience) and other (unskilled) workers. yes Permanent residency/ green card 40,040
EB-4 Fourth Preference Employment, Immigrant Visa For certain special immigrants: religious workers, broadcasters, Iraqi/Afghan translators, Iraqis who have assisted the United States, International Organization Employees, Physicians, Armed Forces Members, Panama Canal Zone Employees, Retired NATO-6 employees, and spouses and children of deceased NATO-6 employees. yes Permanent residency/ green card 9,940
EB-5 Fifth Preference Employment, Immigrant Visa For employment creation - immigrants who invest in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the US economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers. yes Permanent residency/ green card 9,940

Students and Exchange Visas

Visa Type Description Initial Period Stay Allotted visas for FY 2013
F-1 Academic Students For study at an SEVP certified university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or other academic institution. Length of program undetermined
F-3 Canadian or Mexican national academic commuter students For individuals who reside in Canada or Mexico to commute to the United States to attend an academic program. Length of program undetermined
H-3 Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitors Travel to the US to receive training, other than graduate or medical education training, that is not available in your home country. Or to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program for children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. no ≤2 years
J-1 Exchange Visitors For individuals participating in Exchange Visitor programs designated by the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. between 1- 3 years, depending on the type of program undetermined
M-1 Vocational Students For students attending vocational or other recognized non-academic institutions, other than a language training program. Length of program undetermined
M-3 Canadian or Mexican national vocational commuter students For individuals who reside in Canada or Mexico to commute to the United States to attend a vocational or other recognized non-academic institution, other than a language training program. Length of program undetermined
P-2 Artists or Entertainers To perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, participating in a cultural exchange program. no ≤1 year
Q Cultural Exchange Visitors For individuals participating in Exchange Visitor programs designated by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ≤15 months undetermined
  1. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Temporary Worker Visas:
    http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1271.html
  2. USCIS, Working in the United States:
    http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=a39e901bf9873210Vgn
    VCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=a39e901bf9873210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD
  3. USCIS, Green Card through Job:
    http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextchannel=24b0a6c515083210Vgn
    VCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextoid=24b0a6c515083210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD
  4. Baylor College of Medicine, Employment Based Preference Chart:
    http://www.bcm.edu/pda/index.cfm?pmid=8646
  5. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Annual Numerical Limits FY 2013:
    http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/Web_Annual_Numerical_Limits.pdf
  6. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visitors Visas - Business and Pleasure:
    http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html
  7. Zhang & Attorneys, L.P. US Immigration Attorneys and Consultants, Duration and Extension of a J-1 Visa:
    http://www.hooyou.com/j-1/j1_duration.html
  8. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Student Visas:
    http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html