Working In The US With A Nonimmigrant Visa
Nonimmigrant visas allow foreign nationals to work and live in the United States for a certain amount of time but do not lead to a green card (permanent residency) or citizenship. The following are the more common nonimmigrant visas used by businesses. For more nonimmigrant visas, visit our Other Temporary And Nonimmigrant Visas page.
- E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader and Investor Visas: Investors and traders and their employees may receive visas to carry on their businesses in the U.S. if their home country has a commercial treaty with the U.S. conferring visa eligibility.
- H-1B Specialty Occupation (Professional) Visas: Professional workers with at least a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent work experience) may be eligible for a nonimmigrant visa if their employers can demonstrate that they are to be paid at least the prevailing wage for the position.
- J-1 and Q-1 Exchange Visitor Visas: Persons coming to the U.S. in an approved exchange program may be eligible for the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s visa. J-1 programs often cover students, short-term scholars, business trainees, teachers, professors and research scholars, specialists, international visitors, government visitors, camp counselors, and au pairs.
- In some cases, participation in a J-1 program will be coupled with the requirement that the beneficiary spends at least two years outside of the U.S. before being permitted to switch to a different nonimmigrant visa or to permanent residency. The immigration lawyers in our offices regularly handle the application process for seeking a waiver of this two-year home residency requirement.
- Q Visas are for persons seeking temporary employment in a culturally unique program or private enterprise (e.g. musicians playing traditional Irish music in an Irish pub).
- L-1 Intra-company Transfer Visas: L-1 visas are available to executives, managers and specialized knowledge employees transferring to their employer’s U.S. affiliate, parent or subsidiary. Executives and managers holding L-1 visas may be eligible for permanent residency without the need for a labor certification.
- O-1 Extraordinary Ability Worker Visas: The O-1 category is set aside for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability. Persons with extraordinary ability in entertainment, business, athletics, and science may qualify.
- P-1 Artists and Athletes Visas: This category covers professional athletes, artists, and entertainers.
- R-1 Religious Worker Visas: Religious workers may be eligible for an R-1 visa if they were a member of the religious denomination for at least two years immediately preceding their entry, they are coming to work at least 20 hours per week, and they are coming to perform a religious vocation or occupation.
- TN Status Under the North American Free Trade Agreement: A special category has been set up for nationals of Canada and Mexico under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) who seek to be employed in the U.S. in certain categories designated under the treaty.
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