The US is a powerful global force with high economic development. The promise of the American dream and of success attracts people from all over the world. They want to find jobs and build new lives in the country. But even though a lot of people want jobs in the US, it is a long process to get them. There are many steps that foreign people need to take to legally work in the country.
One very important step is a US employment sponsorship. This article will explore the details and information on US employment visa sponsorship.
What is a US Visa Sponsorship?
To be able to go to the US to work, you must first find a job. The employer must be willing to hire someone who is not from the US. The company you plan to work for must know that you are not a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). If the employer is aware and still wants to hire you, then they agree to sponsor you.
A US visa or employment sponsorship means that the employer in the US is hiring you. They are guaranteeing to the US visa authorities that you will be a legal working resident. The employer will state that you will work the job position they hired you for. Also, they must guarantee that you will get the same salary as a US citizen or LPR in the same job position.
The employer visa sponsorship is not exactly a letter as most people think. They are a set of documents that is sent to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is not only one sponsorship letter as most people think. The documents must have different forms and letters with the employment information. They must also state that the employer is willingly hiring the employee.
The tricky part in an employment visa sponsorship is to justify hiring a foreign employee. The US has a large population, so why not hire a US citizen or LPR? This is one question that most employers must answer when they try to sponsor a foreign employee.
To solve this, the employer must post job ads and submit other documents to the US Department of Labor. The employer must wait for someone to respond to the job ads. If no one does, they can argue that they could not find anyone to do the job. This will mean that the US citizens or LPRs were not available or skilled for that position. Then the US employer can justify hiring a foreign employee.
So as a recap, if you want to work in the US, you must find an employer willing to sponsor you. Working without a sponsorship means you are working illegally. That can have consequences and you might end up deported or arrested.
Do I Need a Visa Sponsorship Letter?
Since there are so many US visas, it can be confusing to know which ones are for employment. Even within the US work visas, for very short seasonal work you might not need a sponsorship. But you must keep in mind that most employment offers in the US will need a visa sponsorship. The US visas have groups of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. Below are the ones that need employment sponsorships.
Nonimmigrant Visas Employment Sponsorship
US nonimmigrant visas are for temporary stays in the country. They are not Green Cards and do not give the right to their holders to become US citizens. There are many types of US nonimmigrant visas, but some of the most popular are the employment ones. The nonimmigrant visas that need employment sponsorship are outlined below.
- H-1B visa – Person in Specialty Occupation;
- H-2A visa – Temporary Agricultural Workers;
- H-2B visa – Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers;
- L1 visas – Intercompany transfers going to the US due to specialized knowledge or to to take on managerial or executive positions;
- O-1A visa – People with extraordinary abilities in business, science, athletics, and education;
- O-1B visa – People with extraordinary abilities in the arts, television, and film industries;
- O-2 visa – Personnel assisting those with O-1A and O-1B visas.
Immigrant Visas Employment Sponsorships
For the immigrant visas or Green Cards, there is also a need for employment sponsorship. From the categories, there is also an Employment Based Immigrant Visa group. Most of the visas in the group need an employment sponsorship.
- EB-1 Visa – Outstanding professors, researchers, people with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, athletics, or education. Also executive managers who have worked at a foreign branch of a US company for the past 3 years.
- EB-2 Visa – Professionals with advanced degrees and people with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, or business.
- EB-3 Visa – Skilled workers with more than 2 years of experience, professionals with a higher education degree. Also, unskilled workers with less than 2 years of experience (EW-3 Visa).
- EB-4 Visa – Various religious, government, or international organizations workers.
Some of these visas, such as the EB-1 visa allow self-petitioning. This means that in some cases, if you have such extraordinary abilities you can sponsor your own visa. You must submit all the documents and pay the fees yourself. Other visas, such as the EB-5 visa only work through self-petitioning.
How Do I Get a Sponsor Letter for US Visa?
As explained, getting a sponsorship employment visa requires you to have an offer from a US employer. The US employer must send you a contract to sign, which will then be part of the sponsorship documents.
In some nonimmigrant visas the Department of Labor first requires a Labor Certification. This is the part where the US employer proves they could not find a suitable US employee, but have to hire a foreign one.
After getting this certification, the employer submits the petition. The petition has all the supporting documents, contracts, itineraries, and qualifications of the employee. It is then submitted to USCIS. For nonimmigrant employment visa sponsorships, the employer submits Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. For immigrant visas, the employer submits Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
These petitions and their instructions are in the USCIS website. If the employer wants to complete them, they can do so following those instructions. Many employers though hire a lawyer to complete them because it is very easy to make mistakes. Mistakes in filing or submissions can lead to the delay of the visa processing.
Once USCIS has the petition and the supporting documents, they process the case. Since there are so many petitions the wait time can be long. Some employees wait for months or even a year until they hear back from USCIS.
When USCIS makes a decision, they send a notice to both the employer and the employee. If they deny the petition, the notice outlines the reasons. It could be because the employee was not qualified enough or there was not enough documentation.
If USCIS decides to approve the petition, then the notice will be positive. It will then state the next steps that the employer and employee must take to get the actual visa. Then, depending on the type of visa they want, they start the application process. The application process is then done at a US Embassy in the employee’s home country.
How Long is the Sponsor visa USA valid?
Getting the sponsorship and the visa are the difficult parts. After you get the visa, then you can make your travel arrangements. Once you go to the US, you can start working. But if you have a nonimmigrant work visa, then its validity is temporary. This means that after some time, it will expire.
How long the nonimmigrant work visa is valid depends on the type of visa you have. Some like the H-1B visa are valid for 3 years, while others could only be valid for 1 year. So you must check the details of your visa to not overstay.
When the time comes for your visa to expire, some can get extensions. The employer can apply again for the sponsorship to USCIS and you could get the visa again. But for the nonimmigrant visas, there are limited extensions. In most cases you will not be able to extend for more than 2 or 3 times.
As for the immigrant work visas, they are permanent. Once you get these visas, you get a Green Card. The Green Card is valid for 10 years and has unlimited extensions. After 5 years of living and working in the US, you can also apply for a US citizenship.
How much does the sponsor visa cost?
Getting an employment visa sponsorship is not cheap. Especially to the US employer who has to pay most of the fees. Depending on the visa, it might cost up to a few thousand dollars to sponsor a foreign employee. Because it is so expensive, employers are reluctant to do it.
The actual fees depend on the visa type, but a general overview of the most common fees and their costs are as follows:
- Form I-129 – $460
- Form I-140 – $700
- American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998(ACWIA) – $750 or $1,500
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee – $500
- For employers with 50 or more employees and 50% of them are foreign – $4,000 or $4,500