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USA Work Visa Comparison

If you want to work in the United States, you need a specific worker visa based on the purpose of your travel and type of work you will be doing. Please review following table to learn petition procedures, eligibility, period of stay, annual cap and other details of each visa category.
ClassificationDescriptionFamily Visa1Labor CertificationAgency2Dual Intent3
D VisaCrewmember-RequiredNot Allowed
E VisaTreaty Traders and Treaty InvestorsE VisaDOL(E-3)
USCIS(E1/E2)4
Maybe5
H-1B VisaPersons in Specialty OccupationH-4 VisaRequiredDOL/USCISAllowed
H-2A VisaSeasonal Agricultural WorkersH-4 VisaRequiredDOL/USCISNot Allowed
H-2B VisaTemporary or Seasonal Nonagricultural WorkersH-4 VisaRequiredDOL/USCISNot Allowed
H-3 VisaTrainees (other than medical or academic)H-4 Visa USCISNot Allowed
I VisaRepresentatives of Foreign MediaI Visa 
L-1 VisaIntracompany TransfereesL-2 Visa USCISAllowed
O-1 VisaIndividuals with Extraordinary Ability or AchievementO-2 Visa USCISMaybe5
P VisaAlien Athletes, Artists, and EntertainersP-4 Visa USCISMaybe5
Q-1 VisaParticipants in an International Cultural Exchange Program- USCIS
R-1 VisaReligious WorkersR-2 VisaUSCIS
TN VisaNAFTA ProfessionalTD Visa USCIS4Not Allowed

1. Family Visa: Dependent visa for spouse and unmarried children under age of 21. 

2. The agency name, if listed, indicates the following is required before applying for a visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad : 
DOL: The employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) before filing I-129 petition with USCIS.
USCIS: The employer must obtain approved petition for a non immigrant worker(Form I-129) from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS).

3.Dual Intent: whether the visa holders could enter United States while simultaneously seeking lawful permanent resident status (green card status).

4. Employers of E-1, E-2, and TN non immigrant do not have to have an approved Form I-129 from USCIS before employing the foreign nationals, however, they may submit Form I-129 to USCIS to request an extension of stay or change of status. 

5. Immigration laws and INS regulations appear to recognize dual intent for O visas , P visa and E visa.


Application Process: If employers want to bring a foreign national to to the United States temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training, they usually must file a non immigrant worker petition(Form I-129) on the foreign national's behalf with USCIS. 

To hire foreign workers under the visa classification of H-1B Visa, H-2B Visa, H-2A Visa and D-1 Visa, the employers must seek labor certification through the Department of Labor (DOL) first before file I-129 petition. 

Work Authorization of Student Visa and Visitor Visa: You can also obtain limited work authorization if you are holding F-1 student visa, M-1 student visa, J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa and B-1 visitor visa for business. Some visa programs even authorize your spouse and children to work in US.

Last Updated: 07-16-2014

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