Written by attorney Carl Michael Shusterman

How To Get a Temporary Work Visa

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.

1) 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 85,000 cap-subject H-1B visas allowed each year. There are an unlimited number of cap-exempt H-1B visas for professionals working at universities, non-profit institutions affiliated with or related to a university, and non-profit and governmental research organizations.

2) H-2A - Temporary or seasonal agricultural workers

3) 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.

4) H-3 - Trainees

5) 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 knowledge role in a U.S. branch

6) O-1 - People who have extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or entertainment

7) P-1 - Individual or team athletes, or an internationally recognized entertainment group

8) Q-1 - Participants in a cultural exchange program

9) TN Visas for Canadian and Mexican Professionals

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-260
  • 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

U.S. Consulates and Embassies

Additional resources provided by the author

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