Which work visa is right for you?

If you are interested in coming to the U.S. to work, you may be overwhelmed by all the visa options that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers. For a brief overview of the different kinds of visas, take a look at the information provided here.

There are more than 60 different temporary visas available to immigrants to the U.S. Some offer immigrants a path to citizenship and permanent residence (known as a green card). One of the first things an immigrant employee should know is the length of time they are planning to stay in the United States. If it is for a short period of time (usually less than six months), a visitor’s visa (or visa waiver) is appropriate. If the stay extends longer than six months, a ‘proper’ work visa is required.

The three most common categories of proper work visas are discussed here. The first kind of work visa is the B-1 visa for people who are considered to be business visitors. These individuals arrive in the U.S. to make sales, conduct negotiations, attend meetings and seek investments for their companies abroad. The maximum stay on a B-1 visa is six months.

The next type is the H-1B visa, and this is designed for employees who work in specialty occupations like engineering, science and mathematics. Individuals who apply for an H-1B visa must have the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. The maximum length of time these individuals can stay in the country is six years.

A third type of work visa falls under the L category. The L-1A visa allows executives or managers who work for a company that is based abroad but has an office in the U.S. to come to this country. The employee must have worked one year in the past three for that company and plan to work for the Unites States branch when they arrive. L-1A visa holders can stay in the U.S. for seven years. The L-1B visa allows employees with specialized knowledge to work for the company’s U.S. branch. L-1B visa holders can stay in the U.S. for five years.