Immigration & Naturalization Law

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Temporary Work Visas

Temporary work visas offer a limited stay in the United States for work reasons. There are various types of temporary work visas, and they can apply to multiple professions, from labor positions to specialty occupations.

There are a number of legal requirements to qualify for and get approved for a temporary work visa to the U.S. For specific information about your situation, it is best to talk to an experienced employment immigration attorney in your area.

Types of Temporary Work Visas

The most common temporary visas are:

  • H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation
  • H2: Temporary Agricultural Worker
  • H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker
  • H3: Trainee or Special Education Visitor
  • J-1: Exchange Visitor
  • L-1: Intracompany Transferee

There are two main categories of visas in the United States:

  1. Immigrant visas
  2. Non-immigrant visas

A temporary work visa falls under the classification of non-immigrant visas. However, it is possible for a foreign national with a temporary work status to acquire an immigrant status, if they meet other requirements. Acquiring immigrant status could put you on a path to securing a green card.

Employment and Immigration Law

For employment purposes, U.S. immigration law is based on certain principles:

  • That the foreign workforce does not displace U.S. citizen workers.
  • The employment of foreign workers does not promote a decrease in wages, nor does it deteriorate the country's working conditions.
  • The duration of temporary work visas depends on the type of work performed by the foreign worker, education, and special skills.

H-Type Temporary Work Visas

The H visa is the most requested temporary work visa. And it has several classifications:

  • H-1B: This visa covers professional and specialized occupations. Foreign workers must have specific knowledge about a profession and have a college degree or the equivalent of four years of college education in the U.S. In addition, the job offer to be filled must require a college degree, and the employer must prove that there was no U.S. citizen to fill the position.
  • H-2: This visa covers temporary foreign employees in the agriculture sector. The applicant company must prove that it could not find U.S. workers to fill the vacancies.
  • H-2B: This visa covers foreign temporary workers in skilled labor, but not professional positions. The applicant company must verify that it is a single-occurrence job offer. This means it only needs the worker for a specific situation, and it will not be like that in the future. The work need can also be seasonal.
  • H-3: This work visa is offered to workers invited to the U.S. as apprentices or to participate in a knowledge exchange program.

All H visas require an offer of employment from a U.S. employer. In addition, it must be proven that the salary to be paid to the foreign employee is comparable to other positions in that occupation.

H Visa Limitations

Class H temporary visas have restrictions and a specific legal framework. Before applying for a visa of this type, it is recommended to know its characteristics:

  • They are subject to an annual vacancy limit. The United States government each year says how many H visas it will grant. This varies according to the economic needs of the country. Obtaining a visa does not guarantee immediate entry to the U.S.
  • Processing times are different. For example, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will process an H-1B visa for a professional faster than an H-2B visa.
  • They have an extension limit. An H-1 visa can allow a total stay of no more than six years, while the H-2 can admit a foreign worker for up to three years.
  • The employee must fulfill specific functions and with one employer only. If the foreign worker wishes to change jobs, the new employer must obtain a new H visa that covers the employee and meets all the requirements.
  • They are not flexible with changes. Suppose the foreign worker's employer sells or merges the company with another. In that case, a new petition may also need to be filed or the current one may need to be modified.

L-1 Work Visas

The L-1 temporary work visa is offered to foreign persons transferred within the same company to a United States location. Specifically, an L-1 visa allows an employee of a foreign company to come to work at a subsidiary in the United States.

For example, the use of an L-1 visa is very common for:

  • Executives
  • Managers
  • Employees with specialized knowledge

This visa is used when these types of employees come from headquarters in another country to provide assistance with operations in the United States office.

E Work Visas

The E visa is assigned to investors and merchants who wish to come to the United States. It follows the rules of the trade agreement with their country of origin. The E visa is classified as:

  • E-1: This visa is intended for foreign persons who will do business in the U.S. and live in a country with a trade agreement with the U.S. The trade may involve goods, property, or technology.
  • E-2: This visa is issued to foreign nationals who will make an investment in the U.S. or are actively seeking to make such an investment. In addition, these people will participate in managing the company they plan to open in the U.S. Please note that the E visa is not an immigrant visa. If you want to immigrate to the U.S. as an investor, you must use the EB-5 visa.
  • E-3: This is a special visa for foreign citizens of Australia. To request it, you must:
    • Be in Australia
    • Have a job proposal in the United States
    • Have an academic degree that the position requires
    • Meet a work need in that area

J-1 Exchange Visa

The J-1 visa is granted to exchange visitors. Although it can also be a temporary work visa, some J-1 visa holders cannot work. Others are subject to the specific rules of their patrons to do so.

This visa is common for teachers, researchers, some students, apprentices, teachers with special abilities, specialists in an area of study, babysitters, and consultants.

O, P, and R Work Visas

O, P, and R visas also allow temporary work in the U.S.:

  • O Visa: This visa is for foreigners with extraordinary aptitude in the fields of arts, sciences, sports, business, and education. They also favor foreign citizens who have received national or international recognition in their field.
  • P Visa: This visa is for outstanding athletes, sports teams, and entertainment groups of continuing international recognition.
  • R Visa: This visa covers religious workers who come to the country to work for a subsidiary of a foreign religious group.

Temporary visas that are issued to fulfill a job in the United States serve essential goals for the country's economy. They allow foreign workers with specialized knowledge to come and share their skills.

Do I Need a Lawyer To Get a Temporary Work Visa?

Depending on the type of temporary work visa that you need, you may be able to:

  • Request the visa by yourself
  • Work with your employer to apply as your sponsor

Most of the time, the U.S. employer seeks the services of an attorney to represent them and help with the paperwork because a temporary visa petition involves many steps with various government agencies.

Companies do not tend to take risks with immigration, nor do they want to lose a visa vacancy with lengthy processes. For example, an employer must ask the Department of Labor (DOL) for a labor certification before a foreign national can apply for a temporary work visa.

The employer must also:

  • Justify the need to hire foreign employees
  • Show that there are no American workers available to fill the position
  • Prove that the salary and working conditions comply with the regional standards of labor laws

In these cases, an immigration attorney with experience in managing temporary work visas can help you.

If you are a foreign employee with a job offer, you can seek advice from the same company's lawyers or find your own lawyer.