United States Immigration Series Post No. 3 Temporary Work Visas to the United States

Francisco A. Laguna & Annapurna Nandyal

US Consulate in Shanghai, China

US Consulate in Shanghai, China

Immigrants have long been employed in the United States. Today we are discussing temporary work visas, in particular H-1B visas. An H visa is an employment-based visa which permits foreign nationals to temporarily work in United States.

Before turning to the H-1B visa program, below is a description of different types of H visas: 

H-1B Visas: One of the most popular and sought after visas which US organizations and businesses use to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise, including, but not limited to, engineers, computer programmers or scientists.

H-1B Visas by Country 2006 - 2008 Photo Credit: Theanphibian via Wikimedia Commons

H-1B Visas by Country 2006 – 2008
Photo Credit: Theanphibian via Wikimedia Commons

H-1C Visas: The H-1C visa is for nurses who wish to work in health professional shortage areas. Only 500 H-1C visas are granted annually. These visas are approved for a period of admission of up to three years. Upon the expiration of the admission period, the status may not be extended.

H-2A Visas: The H-2A visa is available to foreign nationals who may wish to enter the US to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural services. There is no annual cap for H-2A visas.

H-2B Visas: The H-2B visa allows employers to fill skilled and unskilled non-agricultural labor for a specified temporary time period. The visa is only available for work that is temporary in nature, like recurring seasonal need or intermittent need. 66,000 H-2B visas are available annually.

H-1B Program: The H-1B visa program was created in 1990 to hire workers for a specific period of time in specialty occupations which faced employee shortages. Occupations that qualify for H-1B visas typically require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as IT, Computing, Engineering, Mathematics etc. The H-1B program provides an opportunity for foreign workers to live and work legally in the US for six consecutive years. Under the H-1B requirement, the employer must file a petition for the H-1B visa on behalf of the foreign worker.

US Consulate in Buenos Aires, Argentina Photo Credit: Bjs via Wikimedia Commons

US Consulate in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Photo Credit: Bjs via Wikimedia Commons

To accept a job offer in a specialty occupation, a foreign worker has to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Hold a US bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university;
  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to US bachelor’s or higher degree; or
  • Hold a registration or certification which authorizes a person to fully practice an occupation

The initial H-1B visa may be issued for up to three years. It may be then extended for an additional three years, for a maximum of six consecutive years.

Next week, we will continue our discussion of the H-1B program.

TransLegal is available corporations and individuals navigate the intricacies of the US immigration system. Call us with your questions.

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