Types of U.S. Work Visas

Types of U.S. Work Visas

Working in the United States is highly desirable to numerous foreign nationals. While it is common for jobs in the United States to begin as temporary positions, they often result in a green card (permanent residency in the United States).

While the following description of United States work visas is not exhaustive, it does provide a brief summary of the more frequently obtained work visas that permit entry into the United States. For a more extensive list, consider contacting an employment immigration lawyer.

Nonimmigrant Visas

If a nonimmigrant visa is how you gained entry to the United States, you are required to leave by the date your visa expires, although you can apply to get an extension for your visa. If you come to the U.S. with a non-immigrant visa, you will need to depart the U.S. by the date of your visa expiration (unless you apply to extend your visa). Following is a breakdown of temporary visas that permit foreign nationals to complete work in the United States. A qualified Pasadena immigration attorney can answer any questions you might have on these visas.


H-1B visas are quite popular. To be obtained, an individual needs proof that a United States employer has offered them a position. The proposed position is required to be in a specialty field. Typically, this means a minimum of a bachelor's degree is necessary to qualify for the position.

The employer is responsible for sponsoring your H-1B visa and can do so by filing a petition (an I-29 Petition) with the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). Since H-1B visas are highly sought after, an employment immigration attorney may be helpful for guiding you through the necessary steps for obtaining an H-1B visa.


L-1 visas are for employees working for foreign affiliate companies of the United States that want to transfer to the U.S. branch of the company. Alternatively, an L-1 employee may transfer from the foreign company to establish an office based in the United States.

In either case, an L-1 employee is required to have been employed with the foreign affiliate for a minimum of one year of the past three years. L-1 visa applications are also filed by U.S. employers on the I-129 petition. For additional details on L-1 visas, an experienced employment immigration lawyer may prove helpful.


Foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in their particular field may be eligible for an O-1 visa. Individuals seeking an O-1 visa are required to prove an employment offer in an extraordinary field.

To be labeled extraordinary in their field, an individual must meet a minimum of three out of six prongs such as earning a high salary, original contribution to the field, earning awards or achievements, or holding a critical/lead role in the field.


Individuals from certain countries may be eligible to come to the United States for trade activities with an E-1 visa. E-1 visas can be obtained as a Treaty Investor or Treaty Trader if you are a native of a country that holds a trade treaty together with the United States.

If an individual wishes to come to the United States as a Treaty Investor, they must invest a significant amount in a United States company and prove that they are coming to further develop that investment. Further info on this visa can be found by contacting a Pasadena immigration attorney.


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) established the TN visa, an option specifically created for Canadians or Mexicans that wish to work for a United States employer. To qualify, interested individuals must prove their citizenship in Mexico or Canada and give proof of a qualified United States job offer such as a teacher, scientist, accountant, lawyer, pharmacist, or engineer. An immigration employment attorney Pasadena can provide you with additional details.

Immigrant Visas

An immigrant visa allows you to legally enter the United States and obtain a green card soon after entry. Following is a list of immigrant work visas. For a complete explanation of immigrant visas, consider contacting an immigration employment attorney Pasadena.

Extraordinary Ability

Although rare, some foreign nationals do qualify for extraordinary ability visas, an option included in the EB-1 category (1st preference immigrants). It is necessary to prove you are the best in the field, with a sustained national or international acclaim in your area of expertise.

Multinational Executive

The EB-1 list also includes the multinational executive visa. This option is similar to the L-1 nonimmigrant visa. To be eligible, individuals must meet the L-1 criteria along with proof that you will be employed in an executive/managerial capacity in your field.

Advanced Degree

The EB-2 category (2nd preference immigrants) includes the Advanced Degree. To be eligible, an individual must be sponsored by a United States employer that agrees to finish the PERM certification process.

A minimum of a master's degree is necessary, as is proof that your position requires a master's degree. For instance, a teaching position in an elementary school will not be eligible for the Advanced Degree as it does not require a master's degree. An employment immigration attorney can handle any questions you have on the Advanced Degree immigrant visa.

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