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Differences Between Immigrant and Non-Immigrant U.S. Work Visas

Differences Between Immigrant and Non-Immigrant U.S. Work Visas

PUBLISHED ON: January 11

Many people who come to the United States want to find good work options. There are many jobs in the United States in various industries. The United States offers work visas for those who wish to work here, either on a temporary or long-term basis. To work legally in the U.S., you must obtain a work visa. A work visa allows you to obtain employment legally within the United States. A knowledgeable Chicago immigration attorney will help you with the visa process. 

Non-Immigrant Work Visas

A non-immigrant is a foreign national who would like to visit and work in the United States for a period of time. A nonimmigrant worker is a person who will work for a temporary time while in the U.S. Nonimmigrant visas are provided for those foreign nationals who wish to work in the U.S. and are also called nonimmigrant employment-based visas.

Some of the most common types of nonimmigrant visas:

  • H-1B – This visa requires you to have a job offer from a qualified employer in the United States. The job must be in a specialty occupation, and you must meet the criteria for the position. The employer begins the process by filing an I-129 petition with the USCIS.
  • L-1 – This visa is for an employee who works with a foreign company with a branch in the U.S. The employee must already work for the company in a foreign country. The employer must file an I-129 petition. There are two types of L-1 visas, including for executive or managerial-level employees and for employees with specialized knowledge. 
  • O-1 –  This visa is for nonimmigrants who have extraordinary abilities in their field of expertise. There is a 6-prong test, and the applicant must meet at least 3 of these standards. You must have a letter from the labor union of your industry that allows your employment in the U.S.
  • E-1 – This type of visa is specifically for use with foreign nationals of specific countries. It allows the nonimmigrant to work in the U.S. under the trade treaty or as a treaty investor. You must show that you are coming to the U.S. to further develop your investment. You obtain this through your consulate.
  • TN – This is a special category of nonimmigrant visa for workers from Canada or Mexico who work in the United States. The North American Free Trade Agreement allows workers from Canada or Mexico to stay in the U.S. for three years. 

Immigrant Work Visas

Immigrant work visas are available for those foreign nationals who want to live and work in the United States permanently. Generally, most types of immigrant work visas require you to have a job offer before you can enter the United States. These differ from nonimmigrant work visas in that these are meant for those who wish to make the United States their permanent residence. These work visas offer a path to lawful permanent residence or green card. 

  • EB-1 – This is an immigrant visa for an applicant with extraordinary abilities. There is a ten-prong test that will identify whether you meet the criteria for this visa. You must meet at least three of the criteria to qualify for this visa.
  • EB-1 – Multinational Executive – This visa allows an immigrant to work in a managerial or executive status in the United States.
  • EB-2 – Advanced degree visa – This visa allows an employer to sponsor an employee with an advanced degree. The worker must have at least a Master’s degree or equivalent, and the employer must complete a PERM certification procedure. 

The United States offers many employment opportunities for foreign nationals who wish to stay in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. It is helpful to understand how your qualifications fit with a particular type of visa. At Sverdloff Law Group, we understand immigration and non-immigration visas and are available to assist you through the process. Contact us today at Sverdloff Law Group at (312) 238-9090 to request a consultation. 


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