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US Visa Types List

Temporary Work Visas and Employment-Based Green Cards

An individual may obtain a temporary visa to work or study in the United States, or he or she may obtain lawful permanent residency (green card) through one of five employment-based preference categories. Immigration attorneys can assist you with either your temporary work visa or your employment-based green card application.

Temporary Visas for Working

The H Visa Temporary Worker

There are several types of H visas for temporary workers. Each type of visa allows the individual to perform a specific job:

  • H1B visa is for professionals who are coming to work in the U.S. in a specialty occupation (Professional visa and Fashion Models);
  • H1C is for nurses who will work in particular positions;
  • H2A is for agricultural workers;
  • H2B visa is for non-agricultural workers (Unskilled Foreign Workers);
  • H3 is for trainees; and
  • H4 visa is the accompanying visa granted to the spouse and children under 21 years of age of the worker.
  • TN Status: allows certain qualifying Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work for an employer in the U.S. under NAFTA.

Learn more about the H Visa and other Temporary Worker visas through the U.S. State Department’s website

The E Visa

Only citizens and nationals of certain countries are eligible for this type of visa. A requirement for this visa is a treaty between the United States and the foreign country for trade or commerce. There are two types of E visas for working:

  • E1 visa is for an individual who is doing substantial trade with the United States; and
  • E2 visa is for an investor who is directing an investment
  • E3 visa for Australia citizens only to work in the US (E3D visa is the partner visa)

Learn more about Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Visas through the U.S. State Department’s website

The L Visa Temporary Worker

The L visa is for temporary worker who is coming to work at a subsidiary of a foreign company. There are several types of L visas:

  • L1A visa is for a manager or an executive;
  • L1B visa is for someone with specialized knowledge;
  • L2 visa is the accompanying visa that spouses and children under 21 years of age receive with the worker.

Temporary Visas for Studying – Student Visas

Look for important News Releases from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about SEVIS

The F-1 Visa

This F1 visa allows the student to study full-time at an academic institution such as a university, private school, or language institute.

Learn more about Academic Student Visas through the U.S. State Department’s website.

The J Visa for Exchange Trainees and Workers

The J visa is for temporary workers on J1 work and travel or J1 trainees who are coming to work or train with an organization that has been approved for an exchange program under the J visa regulations.

Learn more about Exchange Visitor Visa (J Visa) through the U.S. State Department’s website.

Read about the Waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement for J Visa through the U.S. State Department’s website.

The M Visa

This type of visa allows an individual to attend an approved course of study leading to a specific educational or vocational objective and engage in full-course of study.

Learn more about the Nonacademic Student Visa (M Visa) through the U.S. State Department’s website.

Temporary Visas for Particular Occupations – O, P, Q, and R Visas

The O Visa

The O-1: Extraordinary Ability Artists/Entertainers, Business People, Scientists, Educators, and Athletes

The O-1 visa is available to foreign nationals of extraordinary or high achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics as demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, or with regard to motion picture and television productions, a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement, and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.

The O-2: Support Staff of Artists and Athletes

The O-2 visa is for an alien entering:

(1) for a specific event or events;
(2) who is an integral part of such actual performance;
(3a) has critical skills and experience with principal alien, which are not of a general nature or which cannot be performed by other individual; or
(3b) in the case of a motion picture or television production, has skills and experience with the O-1 alien that are not of a general nature and which are critical and the alien is essential to the successful completion of the production; and
(4) has a foreign residence that the alien has no intention of abandoning.

The P Visa for Athletes and Artists

This visa applies to an internationally recognized athlete performing at a major athletic event as an individual athlete or as part of a group or team and for an artist or member of internationally recognized entertainment group. There are several types of P visas:

  • P-1 is for an athlete and athletic teams and entertainment groups;
  • P-2 is for artists and entertainer reciprocal exchange;
  • P-3 is for artists and entertainers integral to performance.

The Q-1 Visa

This visa applies to a foreign national entering the U.S. for the purpose of obtaining practical training, employment, and the sharing of history, culture, philosophy, and traditions of the alien’s home country.

The R-1 Visa

R-1 visa is for a foreign national with a religious profession, occupation, or vocation, for example, minister, professional holding degree or foreign equivalent degree, cantor, monk, evangelist, or nun.

Employment Based and Investor Immigrant Preferences

Employment-based immigration for lawful permanent residence falls under five preference cateogories:

Different criteria apply to each of these categories and substantial document preparation is required to successfully obtain residency based upon one of the employment-based immigraton categories.

Check the current Visa Bulletin priority dates for each of the employment-based categories, since not all categories have a current priority date.

Guest Author

Ruchi Thaker

L-1 Visa Information & Application Process

The United States L1 visa is classified in the US Immigration system as a non-immigrant visa allowing companies situated in the US and overseas to transfer employees of certain types from its foreign operations to the US operations for up to seven years.

Companies operating in the US can apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L1 visa to transfer someone to the US from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
The employee must have worked for the company office of the US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.

The 2 types of employees who are eligible for the L-1 visa;

1. Specialized Knowledge Employees
Employees with significant expertise in the company’s products or services, major systems or procedures, research and development or patentented techniques are issued an L-1B visa, initially for 3 years able to be extended to a maximum of 5 years.

2. Managers or Executives
The executive or manager  category can be strict and usually requires a detailed description of the role. The person should either have a supervisory responsibility for staff or a major demonstrated prominent rolw. The L-1A visa would be issued in this case, for a 3 year period initially and then able to be extended in two year increments up to a maximum of 7 years.

After completing the maximum period in L-1 visa status, the employee must be employed leave the US for at least a minimum of 1 year before a new application is made for the L-1 visa or even H-1B Visa status. The L-1 visa is a dual intent visa meaning you can apply for a green card while on L-1 visa status. L-1 visa applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the US or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon. This is also common to the H-1B visa.

The L-1 Visa Application Process

An L-1 visa petition is filed with the USCIS on Form I-129, along with the Form I-129L supplement. These are the documents that are required to verify the application.

a)     A detailed job role description and requirements for the position for Managers. For the specialized knowledge position, detailed description of the unique knowledge to be used by the US branch company
b)     The corporate relationship between the U.S. company and the foreign company (can be a letter from the corporate secretary, and the Articles of Incorporation of US and Foreign Companies)
c)     Documentation verifying the capitalization structure of the company (i.e.. equity ownership documentation)
d)     Proof you have qorked at the foreign company for one of the last 3 years
e)     If coming to the US to setup a new office branch, evidence of establishment of new office (e.g. lease, sales contract, etc.)
f).     Annual report of both US and overseas company or other documents confirming financial stability
g).     An organizational chart indicating your role in the US company and the foreign company
h).     Copies of applicable business permits/licenses and registrations

For Canadian citizens applying for the L-1 visa under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the petition may be filed at the port of entry like the airport or land border when the person applies for admission.

There is no restriction on the types of business that can sponsor an L1 visa – corporations(S, C, LLC etc.), partnerships, government-owned entities and non-profit organizations are all eligible. There are four business entities in the United States that can offer employment to the alien – a parent company, a branch, a subsidiary, or an affiliate.  Sponsoring employer need not be US owned or incorporated. Ownership requirements are not as strict in the case of vary large corporations, where a substantial minority shareholding will be a qualifying relationship.

Some other corporate conditions for the L-1 visa include

i.     A US company must control half or more of the foreign subsidiary, and have ultimate decision making power.
ii.   The foreign company should control at least half of a US subsidiary, and also have decision making powers over the US branch
iii.  Branch US and Overseas companies must each be at least half owned by the same parent organization
iv.   US organization that employs sales people abroad can sponsor these employees for the L-1 Visa even in the absence of an Overseas Branch

I hope this helps answer your questions about the L-1 visa and how it works and whether you may be eligible now or in the future to apply for it.