United States

U.S. Work Visas and Eligibility Requirements


If this is the case, you will require a work visa in order to work lawfully in the United States of America. Green cards (permanent residency), temporary work visas, seasonal work visas, and exchange worker visas are among the several types of work visas available to foreign people who desire to work in the United States. The type of employment you do, whether or not you have a working relationship, and, in certain cases, your location of origin, define the type of visa you are eligible for.

The procedures for getting work permission in the United States differ based on the kind of visa and the visa’s eligibility conditions. Here’s everything you need to know about each type of U.S. work visa, including eligibility and criteria, as well as how to apply for one. 

Because these criteria are subject to change at any moment, we’ve included links to official sites that will offer the most up-to-date information on limitations, quotas, and rules for a green card and visa applications.

  • Green Cards in the United States

A job or offer of employment can help you become a permanent resident (Green Card holder) in the United States.

There is also a lottery program, with a limited number of green cards available to successful applicants. Some categories, however, require a certification from the United States Department of Labor demonstrating that there are insufficient American workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available in the geographic area where the immigrant will be employed and that no American workers will be displaced by foreign workers. Under US immigration rules, foreign nationals can get a Green Card by working in the United States in a variety of ways.

The following are examples of employment-based (EB) “preference immigrant” categories:

  • (EB2)

Foreign nationals who are members of professions with advanced degrees or who have remarkable talents (including requests for national interest exemptions) are given second priority.

  • (EB-1)

Priority employees, such as “foreign nationals with exceptional talent in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; excellent professors and researchers; or some multinational managers and executives.”

  • (EB3)

This is the third option for foreign nationals who are “skilled laborers, professionals, or other workers.”

  • (EB5) 

Foreign nationals who have invested or are actively in the process of investing [sums of at least] $1 million (or $500,000 in targeted employment regions) in a new commercial business that will benefit the US economy and generate at least 10 full-time posts for qualified employees.”

• (EB4)

Special immigrants like religious workers, neglected/abused juveniles, retired officials or employees of some international organizations, such as NATO, and certain family members are given fourth priority.

  • Requirements for Work Visas in the United States

What is a work visa in the United States, and why do you need one? A visa is a piece of paper that grants you permission to enter and travel to the United States.

Before visiting, working, or immigrating to the United States, a foreign national must get a visa from the United States. The visa permits you to enter the US and, depending on the type of visa you receive, it may also allow you to work there. A visa does not ensure admission to the United States. 

It does, however, mean that a consular officer at a US embassy or consulate has concluded that you are qualified to seek admission for the visa’s stated reason. Visas are obtained through the American embassy or consulate in your country of residency.

  • Lottery Programs for Green Cards

The yearly green card lottery (Diversity Immigrant Visa Program) gives potential immigrants the chance to become permanent legal residents of the United States. The Green Card Lottery is a program that annually awards green cards to individuals who are chosen at random through a lottery system.

Applicants must submit their applications far ahead of the day they want to visit the country.

  • Work Permits for a Limited Time (Non-Agricultural)

Foreign employees in non-agricultural fields can apply for Temporary Non-Agricultural (H-2B) visas to work in the United States if there aren’t enough domestic laborers to fill the post. 

H-2B visas are generally used for non-agricultural temporary work, such as in ski resorts, hotels, beach resorts, or amusement parks.

  • Visas for Visitors on Exchange

Individuals who have been accepted to engage in employment or study-based exchange visitor programs in the United States can apply for non-immigrant Exchange Visitor (J) visas. 

These visas allow visitors to have a taste of life in America before returning home with a better grasp of American culture and lifestyle. Au pairs, camp counselors, college students, interns, physicians, professors, scholars, instructors, and trainees are all eligible for this visa category, according to the State Department.

  • Seasonal Agricultural Worker Visas

If there aren’t enough domestic workers, foreign agricultural laborers can apply for U.S. Seasonal Agricultural Worker (H2-A) visas to work in the United States on a seasonal or temporary basis.

Immigrants must come from a nation on the list of selected countries, and visas are only valid for three years.

  • Worker Visas on a Temporary Basis (Skilled Workers)

Non-immigrant visas in the United States for talented, educated workers in specialized occupations are known as H1-B visas. 

The H1-B visa permits foreign workers to work in the United States on a temporary basis for a specific firm. To be considered, you must have a working connection with your employer, work in a certain in-demand specialized occupation, and be paid more than the prevailing pay for that position.

  • Work Eligibility in the United States

After you’ve obtained the proper visa, you’ll need to obtain a work permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document, to establish your eligibility to work in the United States. 

Employers will be able to see the paperwork as confirmation that you are legally authorized to work in the United States.

This material does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. State and federal laws are constantly changing, therefore the information on this page may not represent your state’s laws or the most current revisions.

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