Work Visas in the USA

When you complete your US university degree and are planning to start your professional career, looking for jobs in the US can be a great option because of the many opportunities available around the country. As a former international student or nonimmigrant in the US, you will have to obtain a work visa or a work permit, depending on the type of work you are planning to do.

This guide covers everything you need to know about temporary nonimmigrant labor visa in the USA, US work authorization, different types of work permits in the USA, how to get a working visa for the USA, legal rights and protections for nonimmigrant employees, and more.

H Visas

The H-series of work visas cover five categories of work visas and apply mainly to employees working in specialized careers. With these visas, spouses and any children younger than 21 can also apply for admission into the US under H-4 nonimmigrant classification.

Many roles, especially STEM roles in the US, require H-1B visas – but what is a H-1B visa? What are H-1B visa requirements? The list below outlines each H-type labor visa in the USA and who can apply.

The H visas are:

  • H-1B: Person In Specialty Occupation — Covers specialty jobs, including fashion modeling, government-to-government research and development, and co-production projects assigned by the Department of Defense. A higher education degree or equivalent qualification is required to apply.
  • H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional – Chile, Singapore — Required for work in a specialty job, and requires a post-secondary degree with at least four years of study in a field related to the applicant’s specialized career. This specific work visa is not petition-based and has special application procedures for individuals applying from Chile or Singapore. (Check each country’s embassy website for eligibility and application procedures.)
  • H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker — Relevant for careers related to seasonal agricultural work, this visa type is limited to citizens of specific countries (though there can be exceptions). The full list of eligible countries whose citizens can apply for this work visa can be found here.
  • H-2B Temporary Non-agricultural Worker — Covers careers related to seasonal non-agricultural work, such as hospitality employment. This visa is also available only to citizens from a specific list of countries (which can be found here), with some exceptions.
  • H-3 Trainee or Special Education Visitor — Relevant for training opportunities not available in the trainee’s home country, outside of graduate medical or academic fields. This work visa is also valid for practical training programs related to educating children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

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