U.S Work Visa Information: H, L, O, P, Q and R Visas

The U.S Work Visas are used for people who want to work temporarily in USA

Work Visa USA

Besides being a country where many people go for touristic purposes, the U.S is also a popular working destination. People from all over the world want to work in the U.S because of the high salaries and good working environments.

There are two ways through which you can go to the U.S for employment purposes:

  • As a temporary employee
  • As a sponsored/permanent employee

The temporary employees need a US non immigrant visa, while the sponsored employees need an Immigrant Visa. This article will cover all you need to know about being a temporary employee and getting a US work visa.

What is the American Work Visa?

The Work Visa USA is used for people to go and work temporarily in the U.S. for a specified period of time. The period of time that you will be working should be noted in the employment contract or the visa application. This type of U.S visa does not allow individuals to work in the U.S indefinitely or permanently. Applicants need to fulfill a list of US visa requirements and submit the documents specified in the next sections of this article to be eligible to apply for a temporary work visa USA.

Work Visa USA Types

There are several types of US work visas depending on the purpose and the kind of work that you want to do.

The following visas are for temporary work purposes only:

Temporary worker visa categories

Visa category:

H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation

General description – About an individual in this category:

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.

Visa category

H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional – Chile, Singapore

General description – About an individual in this category:

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa.)

Visa category

H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker

General description – About an individual in this category:

For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

Visa category

H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker

General description – About an individual in this category:

For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

Visa category

H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor

General description – About an individual in this category:

To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

Visa category:

I: Representatives of Foreign Media

General description – About an individual in this category:

The visa allows journalists and those who work in the information or media sector to complete their work while in the U.S.

Visa category

L: Intracompany Transferee

General description – About an individual in this category:

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.  Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years

Visa category

O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

General description – About an individual in this category:

For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Visa category

P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group

General description – About an individual in this category:

To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Visa category

P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

General description – About an individual in this category:

For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Visa category

P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

General description – About an individual in this category:

To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Visa category

Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

General description – About an individual in this category:

For practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

Visa category:

R-1: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

General description – About an individual in this category:

To help foreign nationals to come to the U.S and work in a religious organization. Only ministers and those who are directly tied to the religious work are qualified.

For a general description of what each visa entails, visit the US Non Immigrant Visa article.

Work Visa USA Qualifications

There are three preconditions that someone interested in obtaining a U.S work visa needs to fulfill before applying for it. If you do not meet even one of these conditions, the Embassy might deny your visa application. This will make you unable to travel to the U.S and work there. These preconditions are as follows:

Have a job offer in the U.S

You need to have applied for, and been accepted in a job position within the U.S in order to qualify for a work visa. That is because the U.S requires several documents from your employer before you start your visa application.

Approved petition by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

This requirement means that before you apply for a US work visa, your employer must file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS. This petition, otherwise known as a I-129 form is the most important document for you to get your work visa. When USCIS approves your employer’s petition, you can start applying for the visa. However, if your petition is approved, that does not necessarily mean that the U.S Embassy will automatically give you a work visa. Due to reasons that might remain at the discretion of the Embassy, you could be denied the work visa even if your USCIS petition is approved.

Labor certification approval by the Department of Labor (DOL)

Some of the work visas, more specifically the H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, and H-2B also require your employer to have a certification from DOL. Your employer should apply for the DOL on your behalf before even filing the petition with USCIS. The U.S government requires this certification as proof that U.S employers need foreign workers. They have to prove that they cannot fill those work positions with U.S employees. In addition, the certification is needed in order to ensure that temporary foreign workers are not having an impact on job opportunities for U.S citizens in a negative way.

US Work Visa Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the three qualifying preconditions, you will also need to have these documents:

  • Valid passport – which needs to be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the U.S and an additional six months after you return
  • US visa photo – which you need to upload when you fill out the online application form.
  • The Receipt Number, which you can find on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (I-129 Form) which your employer filed.
  • A confirmation page that you have completed your Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160 Form).
  • Receipt that proves that you have paid the application fee. For US work visas, the application fee is $190. There might also be additional fees that apply to your location, so you should check with your local U.S Embassy about more details.
  • Proof that you will return to your home country after your work in the U.S ends. This applies to all types of work visas with the exception of the H-1B and the L visa. Examples of how you can prove you will return from the U.S include the following:
    • Submitting your economic situation
    • Your family relationships
    • Any long term plans you might have
    • Residence that you plan on returning to
  • For those applying for an L Visa, you will also need to have a filled I-129S form (Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition). You should bring this form with you when you have your visa interview.

Besides these general requirements, which apply to all those who want to get a U.S work visa, there might also be other documents which you need to submit. You should contact your local U.S Embassy for more detailed information.

Work Visa USA Application Procedures

If you have fulfilled the three prequalifying conditions and gathered the necessary document, then you qualify to start your application for the U.S work visa. The way you can apply is by completing the following steps:

Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and print the confirmation page

The information you enter into the DS-160 form must all be correct. If you submit any incorrect information, the Embassy will have reason enough to deny you the visa. In addition, the DS-160 form is available in many languages, but your answers must be in English.

Schedule your interview

Due to the high number of applications that U.S Embassies receive, you should make sure that you schedule your interview as soon as you meet all the requirements. If you are younger than 13 years old or older than 80 years old, a visa interview is generally not required. As for people between the ages of 14 and 79, interviews are required, but there can be exceptions if you are just renewing your visa.

Attend the interview

Your interview and the information on the DS-160 form will serve for the U.S Embassy to make their decision on whether you should be given a visa or not. That is why, it is highly important that you show up to the interview on time, dressed appropriately, and with all the necessary documents. In addition, you should answer all questions as fully as possible, always giving true information. Visa interviewers are trained to detect when someone is providing false information, so if you do that, they will deny your visa.

Complete additional procedures

You will be required to give digital fingerprints before, during, or after your interview depending on your location, as well as pay any additional fees. After the visa processing, if the U.S Embassy gives you the work visa, you might also be required to pay a visa issuance fee. The amount of the visa issuance fee is determined based on your country of origin.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

Temporary Workers in the U.S have a set of rights, which the government grants them. They are protected from violations and exploitation, and can exercise these rights without being penalized. If someone in the U.S violates your rights and you report it, your visa will not be terminated and the government cannot force you to return to your country if your visa is still valid, only because you reported those violations.

If the inspectors of Homeland Security and other departments allow you entry into the U.S, you also have the right to apply to extend your stay. However, once your visa expires, you cannot stay in the country unless the Embassy extends your visa. If you stay after your work visa is invalid, you might not be eligible to apply for one in the future.

You also have the right to apply for a visa for your spouse or children in the same visa category that you have.