How To Get a Temporary Work Visa

Posted over 5 years ago. 24 helpful votes


For those who wish to work temporarily in the United States, there are a number of different work visas you can apply for. You will need a specific visa based on the type of work you will be performing and the purpose of your travel. Below is a list of the classifications of temporary work visas. There are some instances where we have noted annual numerical limits on the granting of such classifications.

  • H-1B - People in a specialty occupation which requires highly specialized knowledge and completion of a specific higher education course. This designation requires a labor attestation issued by the Secretary of Labor. There are 65,000 classifications of this type allowed each year. This also applies to government-government research and development, or co-production projects issued by the Department of Defense.
  • H-1C - Foreign nurses coming to perform nursing services in medically underserved areas for a temporary period up to three years
  • H-2A - Temporary or seasonal agricultural workers
  • H-2B - Temporary or seasonal non-agricultural workers, requiring a temporary labor certification by the Secretary of Labor. There are 66,000 classifications of this type allowed each year.
  • H-3 - Trainees other than medical or academic
  • L - Intra-company transferees who have been employed abroad for at least a year and who will be employed by the same employee in a managerial, executive, or specialized role in a U.S. branch
  • O-1 - People who have extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or entertainment
  • O-2 - People accompanying O-1 workers to assist in a particular event
  • P-1 - Individual or team athletes, or an internationally recognized entertainment group (25,000 allowed annually)
  • P-2 - Artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program
  • P-3 - Artists or entertainers performing in a culturally unique area (25,000 allowed annually)
  • Q-1 - Participants in a cultural exchange program

Applicants must apply at the foreign consulate or embassy with jurisdiction over their place of residence. An interview will be required. In order make an appointment for an interview, you must file Form I-129 and bring a receipt showing completion to the embassy or consulate. For more detailed information, visit the USCIS Temporary Workers webpage. At the interview, you will be asked to provide a number of supporting documents.

Required Documentation:

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157, completed and signed
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States
  • Ink-free digital fingerprint scan (performed at the interview)
  • One 2"x2" photograph

All of the above visas have time limits in which the work to be performed will be done and the visa will expire. There are some cases where visas will be extended to allow for the work to be completed. After they leave the U.S., they must remain abroad for a fixed amount of time before being readmitted as a temporary worker.

If you have any additional or specific questions regarding visa status or applying for a visa, please contact your particular jurisdictional U.S. consulate or embassy.

Additional Resources:

U.S. State Department Temporary Work Visa Overview

USCIS Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker Form I-129

USCIS Temporary Workers Webpage

Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156

Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157

U.S. Consulates and Embassies

Additional Resources

Work Visa Attorneys

Temporary Visas

H-1B Visa Guide

L-1 Visas

E-2 Investors

O-1 Visas

P Visas

Religious Workers

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