Foreign nationals who want to work in the United States are required to obtain a work visa. Depending on the kind of work they intend to do, they have to apply for the correct one among the different visa categories for employment available, the majority of which are non-immigrant visas that only allow a temporary stay in the country.
Kinds of Work Visas
Understandably, whatever work visa a foreign national is able to obtain, there are requirements and conditions to be complied with in order for the visa holder to keep a legal status. These are some of the most common work visas. Processing times differ based on various factors.
EB-1 Visa (Priority Workers)
This visa is for the brightest foreigners boasting extraordinary ability in their line of work. These include executives in multinational corporations or the best professors and researchers. Applicants have to prove that they continue to enjoy national or international recognition for their work. It’s also a requirement that they stay in the same field when they go to the United States to work.
H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa (Professional Workers)
Alien professionals are awarded a three-year stay in the US when they obtain this non-immigrant visa. It is usually the employer who petitions for a specialty professional of another nationality to work in the US with an H-1B application. The number of accepted visa applications is limited per year by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which means that once the quota is reached, other applicants have to wait until the next year to petition.
L-1 Non-Immigrant Visa (Professional Workers)
This visa is for those who have already been employed by the sponsoring company or its subsidiary as an executive, manager, or another specialized role for at least a year within the last three years.
This visa is specifically for Canadians and Mexicans as provided for under the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. It allows them to perform business activities or temporary work within NAFTA’s list of approved professions. Canadians may come over to seek employment, but Mexicans must have a pre-arranged engagement for employment.
In terms of an employment-based immigrant visa, there is always the risk of the employer withdrawing or revoking the visa petition, or even closing down the business. There are certain protections guaranteed by immigration laws. For instance, a petition approved for at least 180 days isn’t to be automatically revoked following the employer withdrawing it or going out of business. The same priority date for the visa application may also be kept unless the revocation of the petition is based on the following causes:
- Material error
- Labor certification invalidation
- Intentional misrepresentation
Early Employment Termination
What happens when foreign nationals are terminated from their US employment before the expiration of their visa? There is a grace period of time of up to 60 days for E, H-1B, L-1, O-1, and TN visa holders, and possibly an additional ten more days for those with E, L-1, and TN visas. Take note, however, that while lawfully staying in the US is allowed during the grace period, working is unauthorized, except for those with H-1B visas, who are transitioning to another employment.
Changing Employment Visa from Non-Immigrant to Immigrant
E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, and O-1 non-immigrant visa holders who have applied to transition to immigrant visa may obtain authorization to work if they can show that this is justified by compelling circumstances. If granted, the employment authorization document may be renewed annually.
Need Help Obtaining a Work Visa? Contact a California Immigration Attorney Today!
If you’re a foreigner who has received a job offer to work in the US and needs to apply for a visa, or if you’re an employer who wants to bring temporary workers over from their home country, be prepared to go through a long and complicated visa application process. To make things go more smoothly for you, it’s prudent to consult an immigration lawyer who has an in-depth understanding of US immigration law, particularly, the US visa program. Immigration attorneys can provide you with legal assistance, advice, and representation on all US immigration concerns. For help in obtaining a work visa, call us at Diener Law to speak with one of our experienced California immigration lawyers.