Are you a foreign national interested in employment in the U.S.? If so, you will need a work visa to be legally employed in the United States of America. There are several types of work visas available to foreign nationals who want to work in the United States, including green cards (for permanent residency), temporary work visas, seasonal work visas, and exchange worker visas.
The type of visa you may be eligible for will depend on the type of work you do, whether you have a relationship with an employer, and, in some cases, your country of origin. The guidelines for obtaining authorization to work in the United States vary depending on the type of visa and the eligibility requirements for that visa.
Here is information on each type of U.S. work visa, including eligibility and requirements, plus information on how to apply for a visa. It is important to note that these requirements can change at any time so we’ve provided links to government resources, which will be the most reliable source of updated information on restrictions, quotas, and guidelines for green card
U.S. Work Visas Requirements
Visa Application Form
What’s a U.S. work visa and why do you need one? A visa is a document that provides authorization for travel to and admittance to a stipulated country, in this case the United States. Before visiting, working or immigrating to the U.S., generally a citizen of a foreign country must first obtain a U.S. visa.
The visa provides entry to the U.S. and, depending on the type of visa obtained, may provide authorization for employment in the U.S.
Having a visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S. However, it does indicate a consular officer at a U.S. embassy or consulate has determined you are eligible to seek entry for the specific purpose listed on the visa. Visas are obtained from the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to your residence abroad.
It is possible to become a permanent resident (Green Card holder) of the United States through a job or offer of employment. There is also a lottery program that provides a limited number of green cards to successful applicants.
However, some categories require a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor to show that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available in the geographic area where the immigrant is to be employed and that no American workers are displaced by foreign workers.
U.S. immigration law provides foreign nationals with a variety of ways to obtain a Green Card through employment in the United States. These employment-based (EB) preference immigrant categories include:
(EB-1) – First preference for priority workers, including foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; or certain multinational managers and executives.
(EB2) – Second preference for foreign nationals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability (including requests for national interest waivers).
(EB3) – Third preference for foreign nationals who are skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.
(EB4)- Fourth preference for special immigrants like religious workers, neglected/abused juveniles, and retired officers or employees of certain international organizations, or NATO, and certain family members.
(EB5) Fifth preference for immigrant investors, 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 areas) in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees.