In the 2021 fiscal year, over 21 million people applied to live and work permanently in the United States.

The US has been a hotspot for immigration for its entire history, and it remains a popular choice of destination for immigrant workers. It’s also common knowledge that obtaining a work visa in the USA can be a lengthy process with some difficult criteria to meet.

Here’s your run-down on how to get a US work visa.

Temporary Work Visas

If you’re not looking for permanent work in the US, then your best bet is to apply for a temporary work visa.

You can do this by filling in a DS-160 form online. If you’re between the ages of 14 and 79, you’ll need to schedule a visa interview after filling out the form.

You should schedule this interview at the US embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Wait times can vary for these interviews depending on the country you’re applying from and the category of your temporary visa.

Let’s take a look at the different types of temporary work visas available.

  • H-1B: Speciality occupation
  • H-2A: Temporary agricultural work
  • H-2B: Temporary non-agricultural work
  • H-3: Trainee visitor
  • I: Foreign media workers
  • L1: Intracompany transfers
  • P-1: Individual athletes and sports teams
  • P-2: Artist or entertainer (to perform)
  • P-3: Artist or entertainer (to teach or coach)
  • R-1: Temporary religious workers
  • TN: NAFTA workers (professionals such as lawyers and scientists working in Canada)
  • O1: People with extraordinary abilities.

You must determine which visa best describes your situation before you apply.

Permanent Work Visa

But what if you want to live and work in the United States permanently? The process is a bit different, and it can be harder to fulfill the criteria.

You’ll need to get your hands on a USA Green Card. A green card is essentially a permit to remain living and working in the US permanently.

Green Card Eligibility Criteria

Before you apply for your green card, you’ll need to meet some criteria to be eligible. If you’re seeking your green card through employment, you’ll need to qualify as either a first, second, or third preference worker.

First preference immigrant workers are people with outstanding abilities in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics. Second preference immigrant workers are people with a job that requires a higher degree to perform or people who excel in science or art.

Finally, third preference workers are deemed to be ‘skilled workers’ who have been in their jobs for a long time.

Green Card Application

An application for a green card involves filling out two forms: a green card application and an immigrant worker petition.

The first form, officially called the I-485, should be completed by you. The immigrant worker petition (I-140) should be filled out by the employer sponsoring your green card application.

Because you need to be sponsored to apply for a green card, you’ll need to make sure that you have a job offer on the table before trying to apply.

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Now you’re up to snuff on what it takes to obtain a US work visa.

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