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USA Worker 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.

Classification DescriptionFamily Visa1Labor Certification Agency2Dual Intent3
D Visa Crewmember -Required Not Allowed
E Visa Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors E VisaDOL(E-3)
USCIS(E1/E2)4
Maybe5
H-1B Visa Persons in Specialty Occupation H-4 VisaRequiredDOL/USCIS Allowed
H-2A VisaSeasonal Agricultural Workers H-4 VisaRequiredDOL/USCISNot Allowed
H-2B VisaTemporary or Seasonal Nonagricultural Workers H-4 VisaRequiredDOL/USCISNot Allowed
H-3 Visa Trainees (other than medical or academic) H-4 Visa  USCIS Not Allowed
I VisaRepresentatives of Foreign Media I Visa 
L-1 VisaIntracompany Transferees L-2 Visa USCISAllowed
O-1 VisaIndividuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement O-2 Visa USCISMaybe5
P VisaAlien Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers P-4 Visa USCISMaybe5
Q-1 VisaParticipants in an International Cultural Exchange Program - USCIS
R-1 VisaReligious Workers R-2 VisaUSCIS
TN VisaNAFTA Professional TD 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 nonimmigrant 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 nonimmigrant 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 nonimmigrant 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 busienss. Some visa programs even authorize your spouse and children to work in US.

Last Updated: 8/29/2014.


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