How to apply for US Work Visa

Types of US Work Visa

If your trip to US is work related, then you have to obtain a work visa. In this article, you can learn how to apply for US work visa. There are basically three categories under work visa.

  • Temporary Worker Visa
  • Exchange Visitor Visa
  • Visa for Members of the Foreign Media, Press, and Radio

The requirements for each of these categories can slightly change; however, the process of applying for visa is much the same. Therefore, let us first look at the requirements for each visa and then move on to the process of applying for work visa.

Temporary Worker Visa

A temporary worker visa is granted for people who want to work in the United States for a specific period. There are various visa categories for temporary workers. Given below is a list of these categories.

H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation

H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional

H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker

H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker

H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor

L: Intracompany Transferee

O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group

P-2 & P-3: Artist or Entertainer 

Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

For each of these categories, a prospective employer must file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is called a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129. You can get more information about this petition from this web page.

Some of these visa categories also require your employer to acquire a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor on your behalf. This should be done before filing the petition. Instructions for Form I-129 on the US Citizenship and Immigration Service provides more information about this procedure.

Exchange Visitor Visa

Exchange Visitor Visas are nonimmigrant visas issued for individuals who have received the approval to take part in exchange visitor programs in the United States. Exchange visitors cannot travel on business visas or tourist visas. Exchange visitor visa category falls into J-1 visa category.

Before you apply for a J-1 visa, you have to first apply and be accepted to an exchange visitor program through a state-approved sponsoring organization. When you are accepted to the program, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You may also have to pay  SEVIS I-901 Fee. You can learn more about the SEVIS and SEVIS I-901 Fee through this website.

Media Visa

Media visas are issued for the representatives of the foreign media. This falls into category I. Members of the press, radio, film, and print industries, traveling temporarily to the United States for work can apply for this visa. These individuals should also work for a media organization that has its home office in a foreign country.

How to apply for US Work Visa   

DS-160 Form

Since you now know to which visa category you belong, you can start straight by filling the DS-160 Form. This can be accessed through this link. This form will also require you to upload a photo that meets their photograph requirements.

Interview

After filling this form, you have to schedule an appointment at the US embassy or the consulate in the country where you live. Sometimes you may also have to pay a visa fee before the interview. You can get this information from  this page. But this fee is not required from participants of some exchange visitor programs sponsored by the US government.

Documents

Passport, Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160 confirmation page), Application fee payment receipt are needed for all three categories described above. But the other documents vary according to the visa category.

Temporary Work Visa:

Receipt Number for your approved petition as it appears on Form I-129 or Form I-797, from USCIS

Exchange Visitor Visa:

Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019, which is the   SEVIS-generated Form DS-2019 provided to you by your program sponsor.

Media Visa:

A media visa applicant may have to present a valid contract of employment or credential issued by a professional journalistic association.

Interview

Attending the interview held at the US embassy or Consulate is the final step in this process. If your visa is approved, you’ll be informed how to collect your visa.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.