In order to enter the United States legally as a foreign national, you must first obtain a visa. This can be for a temporary work visa, non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa that is designed as a pathway towards permanent residence. Temporary worker visas are non-immigrant visas for individuals who wish to enter the United States for employment lasting only a fixed time period. Individuals with temporary worker visas are not considered permanent or indefinite residents. If you wish to seek permanent U.S. residence via employment, then an employment-based immigrant visa is the way to go for you.
All temporary work visas require a prospective employer to initially file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must have an approved petition from USCIS to apply for a work visa.
Types of Temporary Worker Visas
There are 11 categories of temporary worker visas listed below, with their descriptions and requirements provided by the U.S. Department of State. Pay close attention to the details because some of these temporary visas are reserved for immigrants with a very specialized skillset.
H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation
In order to be eligible for an H-1B visa, you must work in a specialty occupation, which requires a higher education degree or its equivalent.
H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional
These visa applicants must work in a specialty occupation that requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization.
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker
Immigrants specializing in temporary or seasonal agricultural work are eligible for an H-2A visa. These visas are limited to citizens or nationals of countries designated to be in the U.S. interest by the Department of Homeland Security.
H-2B: Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker
The H-2B visa is for immigrants involved in temporary or seasonal non-agricultural work. These visas are also limited to citizens or nationals of countries designated to be in the U.S. interest.
H-3: Trainee or Special Education Visitor
H-3 visa applicants must require training, non-graduate medical school or academic, that is unavailable in the applicant’s home country. Applicants may also be in need of practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities that are not available in their home country.
L: Intracompany Transferee
Intracompany Transferee applicants are required to work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge. In order to eligible for a temporary visa, applicants must have been employed by this employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years at the time of the application.
O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
This category is reserved for aliens with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or outstanding achievements in the motion picture and television fields. This can be demonstrated by evidence of sustained national or international acclaim for work in their field of expertise. Applicants may also include anyone involved in providing essential services in support of them.
P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group
P-1 visa applicants must be required to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Applicants must be able to prove an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Anyone providing essential services in support of the individual are included as well.
P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)
For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)
These visa holders must perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. The application includes anyone providing essential services in support of the above individual.