What to know when applying for a U.S. work visa

The U.S. economy depends on people and their willingness to work. As the population ages with the retirement of the baby boomers, it may soon prove challenging to find willing candidates, and not just for manual labor or agricultural roles. That creates potential employment opportunities for people outside the United States.

Under U.S. immigration law, you need a U.S. work visa to get a job in this country. The process of getting approved for a visa can be complicated, time-consuming, and frustrating for foreign nationals.

Getting qualified legal advice from an immigration attorney can make the process easier. The De Castroverde Law Group in Las Vegas has put together this guide with all the information you need to apply for a U.S. work visa.

Types of Work Visas

Workers on Work Visas

The United States grants work visas for temporary positions and employment green cards for permanent jobs. The type of visa you need to apply for depends on the type of work you’re hired for and the terms under which you’re employed.

Temporary work visas fall into different categories. Below is an overview of some of the most common visas:

  • H1B visas are reserved for occupations that typically require specialized skills and university degrees. This includes architects, biologists, chemists, civil engineers, database administrators, economists, statistics, teachers, and surveyors, among many other roles. Immigration law provides a multi-part test to determine whether a job qualifies under the H-1B code.
  • E-1 and E-2 visas are reserved for citizens of countries with treaties of commerce with the United States or those who wish to invest in or start a business.
  • L-1A and L-1B visas are for business owners expanding to this country or workers being transferred here from their native countries.
  • O-1 visas are for workers considered to have “extraordinary abilities” in fields like the arts, sciences, business, education, and athletics.

The application process for different types of work visas has several variables depending on the job role you file and the corresponding visa you need to do it. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lists more than 20 different temporary employment categories on its website. The experienced immigration counsel at De Castroverde Law Group, which serves Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada, can advise you on which type best fits your situation.

How To Apply for a Temporary Work Visa

Because U.S. immigration has so many different visa categories, the requirements for each will vary. You can consult the U.S. State Department or USCIS website for specific advice or to work with a qualified attorney.

For example, applicants for an H-1 or related visa must complete five steps. First, they must file Form I-129 with USCIS, which is the petition for non-immigrant workers. Once that is approved, the applicant then must do the following:

  • Complete an online visa application: Fill in Form DS-160, and upload a recent photo to the website.
  • Schedule and complete an interview: These typically take place at the embassy or consulate in your home country. Individuals under 13 or older than 80 are generally exempt from this step.
  • Monitor wait times: The State Department maintains an online tool that lets you check how long you will have to wait for your interview. Wait times can be lengthy and depend on your country and type of visa. Waits of a year or more are not unusual.
  • Gather the required documentation: You will need to present a passport, confirmation of Form DS-160, a receipt for the application fee payment, your photo, and the receipt number for your approved petition.

Though you may initially upload your photo, you must bring a printed photo in the proper format if you get a message that the upload failed.

How To Help Your Case

One of the first requirements for work visas is for the applicant to show a bona fide offer for temporary employment. Before you get to this point, it’s essential to ensure that the position you’re pursuing meets the requirements.

For example, H-1B visas are only available for roles that require a bachelor’s degree or higher. The job role must also be common to the industry or so complex that it can only be done by a degreed individual.

If you graduated from a university outside the United States, you might be asked to show different levels of proof. If you don’t have a degree, all is not lost. You may be able to substitute a certain amount of work experience. One rule of thumb is that three years of work experience equals one year of study.

Timing can also play a role in your success in obtaining a work visa. For instance, the United States only gives out 65,000 H-1B visas a year. The application period begins on Oct. 1. If you file after the limit has been reached, then you may be denied your visa.

What Is the Impact of a Criminal Record?

Immigration officers will spend a substantial amount of time on your criminal record. If you don’t have one, count yourself as fortunate. USCIS will require you to disclose all interactions with police, both in the United States and your home country. Only traffic violations are too minor to mention in this review.

One thing you absolutely must avoid is dishonesty. If you have a criminal history, the records will catch up with you eventually, and you can be disqualified from consideration for a visa for withholding the truth. Remember that not all crimes prevent you from obtaining a visa. Under U.S. Immigration Law, you’re generally inadmissible if you have a conviction for a felony, drug crime, or crime of moral turpitude. Don’t assume you’re out of luck if you have one of those on your record. Sometimes you can get a waiver, depending on the circumstances.

Immigration Counsel From De Castroverde Law Group

The process of obtaining a temporary work visa can be complicated. Let the attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group assess your situation and give you proper legal advice. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys represents clients on all aspects of immigration law, including adjustment of status, family immigration, immigrant visa processing, and deportation proceedings. You can call us or contact us online for a free consultation.

Photo Credits: 20190815-OSEC LSC-0121 by U.S. Department of Agriculture is licensed with Public Domain Mark 1.0