Working in the USA: Which Work Visa Do I Need?


Regardless of your work experience and industry focus, there are various visa options you can apply for to work in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides different types of visas for workers who want to find temporary or permanent employment in the U.S. Since it can be overwhelming to identify which visa is right for you, our Miami employment immigration attorneys break it down for you below.

If you need help obtaining a work visa, contact our Miami employment law attorneys today at (305) 858-2323 to schedule a consultation!

Temporary Workers

There are more than a dozen types of employment visas available for individuals who want to work in the United States for a temporary period. To obtain a temporary work visa, you must find a prospective employer to file a nonimmigrant petition on your behalf with the USCIS.

Therefore, you will need to apply for jobs in the United States and receive a job proposal prior to applying for a temporary work visa. You will need to ask your prospective employer if they will be willing to sponsor you and help you obtain a work visa.

Below we explain the most common types of visas for temporary workers:

  • H-1B Visa (Person in Specialty Occupation): The H-1B visa is one of the most common types of temporary work visas. This visa requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. This includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability, government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.
  • L Visa (Intracompany Transferee): This visa is for employees who want to work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge. Individuals must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for one year within the three preceding years.
  • O Visa (Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement): This visa is for workers with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields.

Permanent Workers

Individuals who want to work in the United States permanently would need to apply for one of five different types of employment visas. If you have the right combination of skills, education, and work experience, you may be eligible to live permanently in the United States.

The five employment-based immigrant visa preferences (categories) are listed below:

  • First Preference EB-1: This preference is for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers.
  • Second Preference EB-2: This preference is reserved for individuals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. This category does require a labor law certification.
  • Third Preference EB-3: This preference is for professionals, skilled workers, and other workers. This category does require a labor law certification.
  • Fourth Preference EB-4: This preference is reserved for “special immigrants,” which includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, noncitizen minors who are wards of courts in the United States, and other classes of noncitizens.
  • Fifth Preference EB-5: This preference is reserved for business investors who invest $1.8 million or $900,000 in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. The minimum can go down to the $900k minimum if the area of investment is in rural with high unemployment.

If you want to obtain a work visa, whether temporary or permanent, our Miami immigration attorneys at Revilla Law Firm, P.A. are here to help you. Contact us today at (305) 858-2323 to schedule a consultation!

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