US Work Visas

Due to its robust economy, excellent employment rates and the diversity of its people and landscape, the United States is one of the most attractive countries for professionals to relocate to. In addition, the US is very open and welcoming to offer foreign workers or professionals the opportunity to come work in the US. As such, several visa options are available to you depending on your specific work and life circumstances.

The H-1B Visa

What is an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is probably the most popular and sought-after visas for professionals who wish to come and work in the US. The H-1B visa is also known as the “Professional Worker” visa.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that may be issued to a Canadian or other foreign national who wish to work temporarily in the US in a “specialty occupation”. A speciality occupation is one which usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a professional field, such as law, accounting, engineering, financial analysts, computer science specialists, such as programmers, etc.  The H-1B visa can be issued for full or part time work and will also take into consideration previous work experience when determining eligibility.

The H1-B visa program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical and practical application of very specialized knowledge as well as a bachelor’s degree or higher.

How do I apply or the H-1B visa?

You may not file a petition for an H-1B visa on your own, and employer who intends to hire you within the US must do so on your behalf. The USCIS requires the filing by a prospective employer of a Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the DOL, and the processing usually takes a couple of months.

What are the job requirements for an H1-B visa?

The job for which an employer is filing the petition on your behalf must meet the following criteria:

  • A Bachelor’s degree, its equivalent, or higher level of education is a minimum entry requirement for the position;
  • The degree requirement for the job must be common to the industry, or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a specific level of education or knowledge of a field;
  • The employer must demonstrate that he will be paying a wage that is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers and must provide working conditions that will not adversely affect other workers.

Can a fashion model apply for an H-1B visa?

Yes, professional models can apply for and obtain an H-1B visa. Although the visa requires a bachelor’s degree in a professional field or higher, fashion models do not need to meet this criterion, and instead have to demonstrate “extraordinary ability or merit” to qualify for the visa. This means that the model has reached a certain level of fame or national or international recognition in the field of modeling.

Can an entrepreneur obtain an H-1B visa?

Under certain conditions, a professional who wishes to start a business in the US, can sponsor themselves under the H-1B visa to be employed at their own business. For example, a computer engineer who specialized in software development and who wishes to operate a “start-up” business in the US is eligible to apply for the H-1B visa.

How long is the H-1B visa valid for? Can I extend my stay?

AN H-1B visa holder may be admitted to the US for a period of up to three years. This period may be extended to a total maximum of six years.

Is there a cap on the number of H-1B visas the government issues?

This program has an annual cap of 65,000 applications per fiscal year. An additional 20,000 petitions may be filed for individuals who hold a master’s degree or higher. The USCIS begins accepting application on April 1st of every calendar year.

Can I come to the US if I’m a family member of an H-1B visa holder?

The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-1B visa holder may enter the US with them under an H-4 nonimmigrant status.

The TN Visa

What is a TN Visa and who is eligible to obtain it?

A Canadian professional may apply for a TN visa in order to be able to work in the US. The TN visa is also known as the Trade NAFTA visa and is the result of the North American Trade Agreement which was previously created for economic and special trade relationship between the US, Canada and Mexico.

A TN visa allows a citizen of Canada or Mexico to work in the United States for a US or even for a foreign employer. To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:

  • The applicant must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • The candidant’s profession must be found on the NAFTA list;
  • The position for which the candidate is applying for in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • The applicant will work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for an employer. Please note that self-employment is not eligible for the TN visa;
  • The applicant must possess the qualifications and meet specific requirements, education, and experience required of the profession.

The requirements for Canadian and Mexican applicants vary slightly. If you are Canadian seeking a TN visa, you may apply for the visa directly at a US border/Point of Entry. You do not have to apply through the US consulate, but you may do so if you wish. When applying at a Point of Entry, you will need to present the US Customs and Border Protection officer with the following documentation:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • A detailed letter from your prospective employer specifying the professional capacity in which you will work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, your length of stay, your title and responsibilities, and your educational qualifications;
  • Your credentials evaluation (if applicable), together with any applicable fees.

If you wish to apply for the TN visa through the consulate, your prospective employer may file the application on your behalf by submitting Form I-129 and Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to the USCIS.

How long is the TN Visa valid for?

The TN visa may be granted for a period of up to three (3) years. You may also ask for an extension of your stay if you do not wish to leave the US at the end of the 3 years term. The TN visa can be renewed for a three-year term as many times as you wish and there is no maximum time limit. However, the TN visa is a non-immigrant visa, which requires that the holder demonstrate that they plan to return to Canada or Mexico at the end of their stay.

What professions are eligible for the TN Visa?

Some of the most common professions found on the NAFTA list include:

  • Accountants
  • Computer system analysts
  • Engineers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Lawyers
  • Management consultants
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists
  • Scientists
  • Teachers

For a complete list of eligible professions, click here

Can my dependents come with me to the US on my TN visa?

Your spouse and any children under the age of 21 are eligible for a “TD non-immigrant status” valid for the same duration period as your TN visa. However, they will not be allowed to work in the US, but they are permitted to study if they wish.

What documents will my dependents need to provide to obtain a TD Visa?

A Canadian TN Visa holder’s dependants will need to show the following documentation when applying for a TD Visa

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Proof of relationship to the TN nonimmigrant, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate;
  • Photocopies of the TN nonimmigrant’s admission documents;
  • Proof the TN nonimmigrant is maintaining his or her TN nonimmigrant status.

Please note that recently, a new updated NAFTA-2 agreement came into force and remains unchanged when it comes to TN visa-worker program.

Other “H – Visas”

Professional from Chile or Singapore

The H-1B1, Free Trade Agreement Professional visa allows an individual from Chile or Singapore to work in a specialty occupation in the US. This visa requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. This is not a petition-based visa. For application procedures, please contact us at 1(888) 603-3003 for further information regarding the application process.

Agricultural Workers Visa

An H-2A visa can be granted for temporary or seasonal agricultural work carried out in the US. The visa is limited to citizens or nationals of certain designated countries, a complete list of designated countries, please visit the USCIS website. An employer must demonstrate that there are not enough US citizens who are able or willing to carry out the work for which hiring a foreign national is required. The H-2A visa can be granted for a period of up to one year and renewed annually for up to a total maximum of three (3) years.

Temporary Workers Visa

The H-2B visa is a nonimmigrant visa which can be granted for temporary, high peak or seasonal non- agricultural work to be carried out in the US. This visa too, is limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries. The employer who files the petition must demonstrate that there were no able, willing or qualified US citizens or residents who could have carried out the work for which the foreign national was hired temporarily. Once granted, the H-2B visa can be extended in 1-year increments and up to a total maximum of three (3) years.

Trainee Visa

The H-3 visa is designated to allow individuals who seek to obtain specialized training within the United States to enter the US for up to two (2) years. The training received must be other than graduate medical or academic, and one that is not available in the trainee’s home country. The visa is also available to those wishing to participate in practical training programs in the field of education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

Specialty Visas

There are a variety of other visas which would allow individuals in particular circumstances or with a specific set of qualifications or country of origin to enter the US in order to work and live. These include the following:

The E-3 Professional Worker Visa (Australia)

An E-3 Visa is a specialty visa available to professional workers exclusively from Australia. If you meet the following criteria, you may qualify for the E-3 visa:

  • You are a national of Australia;
  • You have an offer of employment in the US;
  • You possess the necessary academic and qualifying credentials;
  • You will fill a position that qualifies as a speciality occupation.

If you qualify, you will need to submit Form I-129 Petition, along with all of the required documentation. Once approved, the E-2 visa is usually granted for a period of 2 years, and upon expiration can be extended for an additional 2 years.

The O-1, extraordinary ability Visa

The O-1 visa permits individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in a field such as athletics, entertainment, arts and science to come and work in the US. The O-1 visa is also available to those who wish to partake in a cultural exchange, religious work those who demonstrate having an extraordinary ability. The applicant will have to demonstrate that he holds national or international acclamation for the work achieved in his field of expertise. This would also include individuals providing essential services in support of the above individual such as a backup dancer to a singer for example.

What are the main characteristics of an O-1 Visa?

  • The applicant may only work for his O-1 visa sponsor, and would require a new visa if he wished to work for another employer;
  • The O-1 visa can be granted for a maximum duration of 3 years and can be extended indefinitely in one-year increments;
  • Your dependants, such as a spouse and any children under the age of 21, may also travel in and out of the US with you and remain in the US as long as your visa is valid. However, they may not work in the US under your O-1 visa and would need to apply on their own merits for a qualifying visa which meets their needs.

The P-1, Athletes and Entertainers Visa

The P-1 visa is available to entertainers and athletes who would like to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or at a performance as a member of an entertainment group. In order to be eligible, you would need to demonstrate that you have an internationally recognized level of sustained performance in your particular field. This visa is also available to those who provide essential services in support of the athlete or entertainer applicant. The spouse and children under the age of 21 can also travel to the US with the P-1 visa holder and remain in the US as long as the visa is valid.

How long is the P-1 Visa granted for?

The P-1 visa is usually granted depending on the duration of the competition or performance to be executed and up to 5 years. Upon expiry the P-1 visa can be extended for up to an additional 10 years.

What is a P-2 Visa?

If you are an artist or entertainer and would like to enter the US for a performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the US and an organization in your home country, you may apply for a P-2 visa. This visa would be available for those who provide essential services in support of the main applicant for the P-2 visa.

What is a P-3 Visa?

A P-3 visa is available to individuals who wish to enter the US in order to perform, coach or teach under a program that is culturally unique or ethnically traditional, such as a folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. This visa would also be available for individuals providing essential services in support of the main applicant for the P-3 visa.

The Q-1, Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Visa

The Q-1 visa is granted to individuals requiring practical training and employment of cultural nature. Individuals are invited to participate in an international cultural exchange and share their cultural, historical, and traditional knowledge of their country of origin.

The R-1, Religious Workers Visa

If you are a foreign citizen who wishes to enter the US temporarily in order to work as a minister, rabbi or another religious occupation or vocation you may apply for the R-1 visa. The R-1 visa requires that you work as a religious employee at least part time, for an average of 20 hours per week, for a non-profit religious organization in the US or for a religious organization that is authorized by a group of tax exemption or a non-profit affiliated with a religious entity in the US.

The T, Victims of Human Trafficking Visa

If you are a victim human trafficking you may be able to remain in the US by obtaining a T visa. A T visa can be issued for up to 4 years, if you have assisted law enforcement in the prosecution of human trafficking.

For further information, to inquire whether you are eligible to apply for any of the above described specialty visas, and to obtain a free consultation with an attorney specialized in US immigration law, call us today at 1-888-603-3003.