One of the world’s most coveted visas has been going through some tumultuous times lately, leaving many wondering if getting into the United States is possible for work. Rest assured, the American dream is still alive and there are still opportunities abound in the United States for many. We’re here to answer your questions about how to get into the US for work and the best options available to you.
Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the best visa options, what they require, how to qualify, and what you should do in preparation to apply.
Employment Visas: The Big 3 E’s
1. Priority Workers – E1:
This visa is for those with established careers looking for a big change or career move. This is a permanent visa granted to those with special or highly qualified skills.
For those with:
- Extraordinary ability
- Outstanding teaching and research experience
- Managerial and executive corporate positions
Professionals – E2:
This is for those who have done masters or secondary education and are looking for bigger career opportunities in the US after some experience. Your employer must fill out the petition for you.
- Those with advanced degrees with 5 years experience.
- Significantly high degrees in science, arts, or business
Skilled, professional, and unskilled workers – E3:
This is likely the most common visa for those looking for work in the US. Your employer will petition for you on this one as well.
This is for:
- Skilled workers: those with 2 years of work experience
- Professionals: those who hold a B.A. or equivalent
- Unskilled workers: capable of filling needed positions that aren’t seasonal.
For all E visas, here’s the process:
- Your employer will fill out the petition form.
- You will hear from the USCIS on when to fill out the DS-261 form
- Next, they will prompt you to pay the fees.
- Once these are paid, you will submit the documents outlined below.
- Two passport photographs
- These civil documents
- Proof of financial support
- Medical examination forms
Temporary Work Visas:
This visa is for someone who wants to try out career opportunities in the US for a fixed amount of time. You will need a sponsorship from a company to do so and should search for available sponsored positions ahead of time if you’re thinking about it. They are relatively easy and quick to get.
Here are a few of the temporary work visas available based on your skill area:
1. H-1B Visa: Special Occupation Visa
For those who:
- Higher education degree or equivalent from your country
- Be involved in government-to-government research.
- Be involved in co-production projects with Department of Defense.
- You or your employer gets a Labor Certificate if required.
- Complete the online form.
- Upload official passport photo.
- If you are between the ages of 14-79 you will need to schedule an interview at a US embassy.
- Pay the $190 application fee.
- Bring all documents (outlined below) to your appointment.
- Wait to receive your passport. Track wait time here.
- Visa Application Confirmation Page (What you get when you complete the online form)
- Application fee receipt
- Passport Photo
- Receipt Number for your approved petition by employer
Average wait time: 2-6 months
Exchange Visas – J:
This is for those of you who want to spend some time in the US for further international work experience on your CV or to continue training in the US to develop your skills.
Here are the options for an exchange visa:
- Research Scholars
- Summer Work Travel
The best way is to get in touch with exchange programs, universities, technical schools, and companies looking for interns ahead of time and work out if they are able to get you sponsorship to apply for this visa. Sponsors are likely to be familiar with the process and their role in helping you with the documentation needed.
Once you have been accepted into a program or have an internship offer:
- Fill out the Non-immigration Visa Form
- Upload a passport photo
- Schedule your interview date (usually between 2 and 15 days)
- Pay the application fee
- Get your documents together (outlined below)
- Bring everything to your appointment and wait.
- Passport photo
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application Confirmation
- Application fee receipt
- Certificate of Eligibility, provided from sponsor
- Training or Internship plan, provided from sponsor
For all of these visas there are extension options after your visa has been completed. Spouses and minor children are able to apply for visas to join you as well on these programs. Children are permitted to attend school during your stay without any extra work!
Here are some more resources to help you find jobs and internships that will help you in the sponsorship process:
VisaOk.in– search for employers hiring right now in the U.S.