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To work in the U.S. temporarily, foreign citizens must obtain an appropriate employment visa, based on the employment purpose. It is not allowed to work on a visitor or business visa, or under the visa waiver program. Each employment visa type has its own specific eligibility and filing requirements. However, because all work visas are based on a specific offer of employment, each visa requires the USCIS first approve a petition of a prospective employer before the foreign employee can apply for a work visa. 


Majority of temporary employment visas are in the H status category:

  • H-1B – for workers in “specialty occupations”, i.e., jobs requiring theoretical and practical application of highly specialized body of knowledge (the initial visa is issued for 3 years and may be extended for a maximum of 6 years from the date of admission), such as accountants, computer programmers, etc.;
  • H-1C – for registered nurses working in hospitals in areas with a shortage of nurses for a maximum of 3 years stay in the U.S (a professional nurse may also qualify under H-1B status);
  • H-2A – for temporary agricultural workers for a maximum of 3 years stay in the U.S.;
  • H-2B – for temporary workers in other temporary, non-agricultural occupations;
  • H-3 – for trainees coming to the U.S. for up to 2 years to receive training not available in the non-immigrant’s own county, except for graduate medical training and training programs;
  • H-4 for spouses and children of non-immigrants with H-1, H-2, or H-3 status, however they may not accept employment in the U.S. unless they are specifically included in the petition.


Some temporary worker visa categories require a prospective employer to obtain a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor before filing the petition, which requires both substantive legal knowledge and practical experience. At Handy Legal Services, we can guide you through a complicated work visa application process, including meeting the pre-application requirements, extension of stay, or change of status and save you a lot of time and money. Call us now for a legal  consultation.

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​  Temporary Employment Visas