Are you a non-U.S. citizen who would like to enter the United States and work here temporarily? If that’s the case, you will need to obtain a visa before coming to the U.S.
For foreigners who wish to work in the U.S. for a temporary period of time, they need one of the two following visas: 1) a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or 2) an immigrant visa for permanent residence.
The temporary worker visa is for immigrants who wish to come to the U.S. and work here for a specific period of time; these immigrants are not considered to be “permanent” or “indefinite.” For example, the worker wants to stay here for 3 or 6 months, but no longer.
Both of the visas mentioned above cannot be acquired by the immigrant themselves and without the help of a prospective employer; it doesn’t work that way. In order for an immigrant to obtain one of the visas, first, the prospective employer has to file a petition on behalf of the worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you want to apply for a work visa, your petition (from the prospective employer) must be approved ahead of time.
Categories of temporary worker visas:
- H-1B: Individuals in specialty occupations.
- H-1B1: For free trade agreement professionals.
- H-2A: Temporary agricultural workers.
- H-2B: Temporary non-agricultural workers.
- H-3: For trainees and special education visitors.
- L: Reserved for intracompany transferees.
- O: Individuals with extraordinary achievements.
- P-1: Athletes and members of entertainment groups.
- P-2 and P-3: Artists and entertainers.
- Q-1: Participants in international cultural exchange programs.
Obtaining Labor Certification
Some of the temporary worker visa categories listed above require employers to obtain what’s called “labor certification” from the Department of Labor. Employers obtain the Labor Certification on the immigrant worker’s behalf before they file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form 1-129.