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Which employment visa is right for me?

If you want to work in the United States, you need to consider which type of employment visa is right for you. You have a number of visas to choose from, and the right visa in your situation will depend upon factors such as your education level, your area of expertise and the length of your stay.

H-1B visas

These nonimmigrant visas are reserved for “specialty workers.” Successful applicants must have a high degree of education in a specialized field. Some occupations that require an H-1B visa include:

  • Computer/IT professionals
  • Scientists
  • Engineers
  • College professors
  • Architects
  • Attorneys

H-1B visas are highly competitive. Only 65,000 are given out each year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for applicants with a master’s degree or higher.

EB visas

EB or employment-based visas come in five different varieties:

  • EB-1: This is the first preference and reserved for workers with “extraordinary ability” in their field, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers and executives.
  • EB-2: Professionals holding advanced degrees and people with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business may seek to enter the U.S. with this type of visa.
  • EB-3: This type of visa is for skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers.
  • EB-4: This visa is reserved for workers in special occupations including ministry, broadcasting, translation and medical fields.
  • EB-5: Immigrants who invest significant capital in the U.S. may seek to enter with this type of visa.

All employment-based visas require the applicant to provide documented evidence of the necessary training, educational and work history qualifications.

O visas

The O visas are for people who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in certain specialized fields such as the motion picture industry, the arts and athletics. O visas are generally issued for a time period related to a certain event, such as an athletic season or the filming of a motion picture. There is no limit to the number of time extensions the visa holder may seek to lengthen their stay.

L visas

If you work for an overseas company that has a branch or subsidiary in the U.S., an L visa may be your means of moving here. The government generally issues these visas to managers or workers with specialized abilities.

Begin your journey in the right direction

By identifying the correct type of employment visa early in the process, you can avoid mistakes and move one step closer to realizing your dream of living and working in the United States.