Which U.S. Work Visa is Right for You?


Are you a foreigner interested in working in the United States? If so, you need to either obtain a temporary work visa or an employment-based green card. Each choice has its own set of requirements and advantages. Here’s a short rundown of the most common types so you can determine which one you’re eligible for and which one meets your specific needs.

Temporary Work Visas

Temporary work visas allow you to stay and work in the United States for a limited period of time. Here are just some of the most common types that you can apply for:

  • H-1B Person in Specialty Occupation: This visa allows you to work in a specialty occupation. To be eligible for this, you’ll need a higher education degree or its equivalent. You may also be considered if you’re a part of a government-to-government development and research or a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability, or a co-production project managed by the Department of Defense. The H-1B visa is one of the more common visas that you can apply for in any state, whether you’re in New York to Salt Lake City.
  • H-3 Trainee or Special Education Visitor: You may apply for this if you’ll be receiving training, besides academic or graduate medical, that isn’t available in your own country. Also, if you’ll receive practical training programs that aim to educate children with mental, emotional, or physical disabilities.
  • L Intracompany Transferee: This allows you to work at a branch, affiliate, parent, or subsidiary of your current employer in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position that requires specialized knowledge. You should be employed with the same employer abroad continuously for at least one year within the three preceding years.
  • O Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement: This visa is for people with extraordinary abilities or achievements in the arts, sciences, education, athletics, business, or in the motion picture and television fields. You can demonstrate this by sustained national or international acclaim. It also includes persons providing essential services to support the above individual.

Employment-Based Green Cards

Green card

An employment-based green card will allow you to be considered a permanent resident thanks to your employment status. If you’re already employed by a U.S. employer who is willing to petition you for permanent residence in the U.S., you’ll most likely need a Green Card application called Employment-Based Petitions. Usually, applicants for this type of work visa are already in the U.S. on either an L1 or an H-1B visa. The following are the five types of employment-based petitions:

  • EB-1 Priority Workers: These are people with extraordinary ability in business, arts, sciences, education, or athletics (professors, multinational managers, executives, researchers, etc.)
  • EB-2 Professionals and Persons of Exceptional Ability: This Is for professionals who hold an advanced degree and with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.
  • EB-3 Skilled and Unskilled Workers and Professionals
  • EB-4 Certain Special Immigrants: There are several subgroups that fall under this category, including persons recruited outside of the United States who have either served or are currently enlisted to serve in the U.S. armed forces, ministers of religion, or retired employees of an international organization.
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investors: This is for foreign investors with capital investment in commercial enterprises located in the United States that allows for U.S. job creation.

Once you determine the right visa for you, the next steps involve gathering the appropriate documentation, applying and getting approved for the visa, then you’ll be able to begin your new job in the United States.

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