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How to Work in the US as a Foreign National

There are a number of reasons to seek employment in the United States. The dollar could be a more favorable currency, the job market may fit an immigrant worker’s skill set more appropriately, or temporary work may be a pathway to lawful permanent residence or citizenship.

Before someone can come to the United States as a temporary worker, they will need to file for a temporary work visa. Temporary work visas give the applicant permission to work in the United States for the duration of their visa.

Choose A Temporary Work Visa Classification

In order to apply for a temporary work visa, the applicant first needs to decide on what kind of temporary visa they will apply for. There are 25 categories of temporary visas from C to T.  According to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the temporary categories are:

  1. CW-1 - visa for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands transitional workers
  2. E-1 - visa for treaty traders and qualified employees.
  3. E-2 - visa for treaty investors and qualified employees.
  4. E-2C - visa for long-term foreign investors in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  5. E-3 -  visa for specialty occupation professionals from Australia.
  6. H-1B - visa for workers in a specialty occupation and the following sub-classifications:
    • H-1B1 - Free Trade Agreement workers in a specialty occupation from Chile and Singapore.
    • H-1B2 - Specialty occupations related to Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development projects or Co-production projects.
    • H-1B3 - Fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.
    • H-1C2 - Registered nurses working in a health professional shortage area as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  7. H-2A - visa for temporary or seasonal agricultural workers.
  8. H-2B - visa for temporary non-agricultural workers.
  9. H-3 - visa for trainees other than medical or academic. This classification also applies to practical training in the education of handicapped children.
  10. I - visa for representatives of foreign press, radio, film or other foreign information media.
  11. L-1A - visa for intracompany transferees in managerial or executive positions.
  12. L-1B - visa for intracompany transferees in positions utilizing specialized knowledge.
  13. O-1 - visa for persons with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics and motion picture or TV production.
  14. O-2 - visa for persons accompanying solely to assist an O-1 nonimmigrant.
  15. P-1A - visa for internationally recognized athletes.
  16. P-1B - visa for internationally recognized entertainers or members of internationally recognized entertainment groups.
  17. P-2 - visa for an individual performer or part of a group entering to perform under a reciprocal exchange program.
  18. P-3 - visa for artists or entertainers, either an individual or group, to perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique.
  19. Q-1 - visa for persons participating in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and sharing the history, culture, and traditions of the noncitizen's home country.
  20. R-1 - visa for religious workers.
  21. TN - visa for North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) temporary professionals from Mexico and Canada.

Once an applicant has determined what category they are qualified for, they can begin to gather the necessary information to file the temporary work visa application.

Obtain an Employer’s Endorsement

In most cases, a temporary work authorization will require the endorsement of an employer in order to begin the process of applying for a work authorization. Some employers will also need to file for a labor certification before they will be able to fill out a Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with the U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS).

Applicants who do not have an employer to file a petition on their behalf may struggle to acquire a temporary work authorization visa.

File an Employment Visa Application

Once an applicant has secured an employer’s endorsement, they will need to file an application. As with other visa applications, the applicant will need to provide medical information and vital records, as well as pay fees associated with the application process.

Once the application has passed through the necessary bureaucratic steps, there will be an interview portion. In order to navigate this interview in the best way possible, check out Attorney at Law’s 7 Immigration Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Finding the Best Attorney For Your Needs

If you are seeking to work temporarily in the United States, you will need an immigration attorney to help you navigate the complexities of immigration law. An experienced Immigration attorney can utilize their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

By leveraging their experience with deportation cases and legal expertise, the right attorney can prevent you from being expelled from the country or keep you from disqualifying yourself from future immigration attempts. Additionally, a qualified immigration attorney can help you explore the many paths to citizenship or lawful permanent residence that may be available to you. The best place to find an Immigration attorney is with Attorney at Law.

At AAL, our nationwide network of attorneys can connect you with the best Immigration attorney in your area. Our partners have the experience needed to go toe to toe with the United States government and come out on top. 

In addition to expert qualifications, our partners also excel in client care. We recognize the weight that immigration can place on your shoulders. That’s why our partner firms are selected for their compassionate service, replying quickly to any questions or concerns that you raise.

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a complimentary consultation and begin your journey to citizenship.

Featured Immigration Law Lawyers

Mainstay Law, LLC

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Drew D. Pettus Attorney At Law

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