Do You Need a Work Visa to get a Salary in the United States?
Yes, generally all foreign nationals will need a work visa to hold a job and receive a salary in the U.S. The country does recognize a number of countries from which residents do not need a visa to visit the U.S. for periods of up to 90 days, but those who want to hold a job and effectively get paid will need to go through the visa process with very few exceptions.
The only exceptions to needing a temporary worker visa are for those from Canada and Bermuda. Canadian and Bermudian citizens can enter as temporary workers without a visa, but they will need to have a temporary worker petition approved.
How Long Can You Stay in the U.S. With a Work Visa?
The U.S. has five categories of workers who can be admitted through a permanent visa and a number of temporary, nonimmigrant work visas. The temporary visas cover a wide range of employment categories, from religious workers, agricultural workers, treaty traders and investors, and exchange visitors to people with an extraordinary ability. There is even a specific group for intracompany transferees.
The types of visas also come with different periods of time before they need to be renewed. For example, an H1-B worker has three years before they need to renew their visa. The renewal process can then only be done once, for a total of six years on the H1-B visa.
On the other hand, an R-1 visa is good for 30 months before it can be renewed one more time for an additional 30 months. However, an E treaty-visa has to be renewed according to the reciprocity the U.S. has with each country. For example, a UK national is eligible to obtain an E visa for 5-years, while an Egyptian national is only granted 3-months. It is also important to understand the difference between your “legal status” v. “visa duration”. Legal status generally refers to the period of time you are permitted to stay in the United States. This “authorized stay” is stamped in your passport each time you enter through U.S. customs. While the visa duration relates directly to the period of validity indicated on your Visa that is granted and stamped in your passport when received from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Therefore, visa holders will need to check the renewal dates for their specific type of visa. To renew your visa, you will need to go through the application process again. However, in certain situations, you might be able to secure a waiver so you do not have to go through the interview process again during renewal.
Overall, it is advisable to consult with a licensed immigration professional for these matters. Overstaying in the United States, even if it was not intentional, is extremely detrimental. It can result in the accrual of an unlawful status and jeopardize future immigration planning for the U.S.
Is It Hard to Get a U.S. Work Visa?
Securing a work visa will have varying degrees of difficulty depending on the type of visa you want. The different categories are for people with different sets of skills and backgrounds.
For example, the TN visa is offered by the U.S. government for citizens of Mexico and Canada through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while other visas accept people from nearly any country but require them to come with certain skills.
There are visas for those with exceptional ability, such as those in athletics, as well as those in specialty occupations and other specific categories. For example, foreign media members who want to enter the country need an I, Representatives of Foreign Media, nonimmigrant visa.
Work visas require that applicants demonstrate they have the skills necessary for temporary employment in that field. This might include a bachelor’s degree, another advanced degree, or practical training.
Therefore, your unique circumstances will determine the level of difficulty you encounter when trying to secure a work visa. The visa category in which you qualify, your level of skills and expertise, and the amount of competition you encounter can impact the level of difficulty when securing a work visa.
How to Obtain a Work Visa in the U.S.
Having a work visa from the Department of State is required before you can enter the country. Therefore, it’s important to understand the process for securing the proper paperwork. Keep in mind that most types of work visas require that the process begins through a U.S. employer.
While the exact process of applying for a temporary work visa will vary depending on the type of visa for which you submit an application — particularly in the documentation portion — we will walk you through what you can typically expect.