In the fiscal year of 2020, the United States issued over four million nonimmigrant visas. Of these, twelve percent were for temporary workers and trainees.
If you would like to know how to immigrate to the US, one of the best steps you can take is educating yourself on different visas. Although you can extend work visas in some cases, they are not typically issued permanently.
Nevertheless, if you want to understand how to work in the US, this article can help! It will explain how to get a work visa in five easy steps!
1. Determine Your Eligibility
Before you file a petition, you need to determine whether you are eligible for a work visa.
Keep in mind that you will not be able to apply for any of these visas until you have found a potential employer. They will need to vouch for you by filing a petition.
Let’s take a look at the criteria for three common types of work visas.
The most prevalent work visa in the United States is the H-1B visa, as individuals in various fields can apply. It is valid for three years, and you can extend it for three more in some cases.
Typically, you need to have a bachelor’s degree or a significant amount of experience to be eligible. Meeting the criteria is not enough to be approved, as there is a limit on the number of H-1B visas issued each year.
This visa is for professionals from Chile or Singapore who work in a specialty field. Unlike the H-1B Visa, it only lasts 18 months.
Yet, there is no cap on the number of H-1B1 visas granted each year. So if you qualify, you will have better chances of being approved.
If your company asks you to transfer to a branch in the United States, you will need an L Visa. There are two types of L visas.
The first is the L-1A, and it is reserved for those in executive or managerial positions. The second is the L-1B visa, and workers with specialized knowledge can apply.
In either case, employees need to have worked for the company at least a year before their admission to the United States.
2. File a Petition
The United States only approves a certain number of temporary work visas each year. Before you apply for a visa, your prospective employer must file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). If the USCIS approves this petition, your future employer will receive a Notice of Action (Form I-797).
3. Complete the Application and Schedule an Interview
Once your I-129 petition is approved, you can apply for a visa. To do this, you should complete the online application form (DS-160).
Keep in mind that the application process can vary, so be sure to inquire at the US Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Typically, you can find the instructions for visas on the consular website.
While filing the DS-160 form, you will need to upload a photo of yourself that meets the formatting requirements. You’ll also need to print the confirmation form and put it somewhere safe, as you’ll need it for your interview.
The next step is scheduling the interview at the embassy or consulate in your country of permanent residence. To make the appointment, you will need to have your I-129 or I-797 forms handy to verify your receipt numbers.
The wait times differ according to the location, type of visa, and even the season. Fortunately, you can check the estimated wait time on your embassy’s website.
4. Prepare for Your Interview
Before attending your interview, you will need to pay your non-refundable visa application fee, which is $190. You may also need to pay for the consulate to issue your visa, but this depends on your nationality.
Now it’s time to gather all the necessary documents for your interview. Make sure that you have your:
- Passport (valid for more than six months beyond your stay in the US)
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt
- Printed passport photo of yourself
- Receipt for your approved I-129 or I-797
Before your interview, double-check with the consulate’s website that you have everything you need.
Some consulates ask for additional information that proves ties to your home country, such as your family relationships or a residence you own. This information shows your intent on returning home after your approved stay in the United States has come to an end.
You should also take the time to learn about your legal protection and rights in the United States if your application is approved, such as this new ICE policy.
5. Attend Your Interview
The fifth and final step to get a work visa is attending your interview. A consular officer will determine whether you qualify and which visa category is appropriate. They will also take digital fingerprint scans at this time.
If your visa is approved, the consular officers will let you know how they will return your passport with your visa to you. Usually, you have the option of picking it up at the embassy or having it delivered to your home.
How to Get a Work Visa
After considering how to get a work visa in detail, you likely have an idea of whether you qualify. You are also aware of the steps you will need to take to make your dream of working in the United States a reality.
Remember that many work visas are not intended for permanent immigration to the United States. Thus, if you plan on moving there long-term, it is best to consider other types of visas.
Did you enjoy these tips for moving to the US? If so, check out more of our informative content!