Overview and Types of Work Visas
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides several categories of nonimmigrant visas for a person who wishes to work temporarily in the United States. If you want to work in the U.S. temporarily, under immigration law, you need a specific visa based on the purpose of your travel and type of work you will be doing. This list is not all-inclusive but it covers most common employment-based immigration visas.
There are annual numerical limits on some classifications, which are shown in parentheses. See Employer Information on the USCIS website for information about the numerical limit CAP count, e-Verify, employment authorization, and more.
H-1B classification applies to persons in a specialty occupation which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge requiring completion of a specific course of higher education. This classification requires a labor attestation issued by the Secretary of Labor (65,000). This classification also applies to Government-to-Government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense (100);
H-1C classification applies to foreign nurses coming to perform nursing services in medically underserved areas for a temporary period up to three years. The Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999 (NRDAA) has been reauthorized for an additional three years, and will expire on December 20, 2009. To learn more about the reauthorization of the H-1C program, see Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Press Release.
H-2A classification applies to temporary or seasonal agricultural workers;
H-2B classification applies to temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers. This classification requires a temporary labor certification issued by the Secretary of Labor (66,000);
H-3 classification applies to trainees other than medical or academic. This classification also applies to practical training in the education of handicapped children (50);
I classification applies to persons who work for media organization (journalist, etc.);
L classification applies to intracompany transferees who, within the three preceding years, have been employed abroad continuously for one year, and who will be employed by a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of that same employer in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity;
O-1 classification applies to persons who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television field;
O-2 classification applies to persons accompanying an O-1 alien to assist in an artistic or athletic performance for a specific event or performance;
P-1 classification applies to individual or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group that are internationally recognized (25,000);
P-2 classification applies to artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program;
P-3 classification applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique (same as P-1);
R-1 classification applies to persons who work for religious organizations;
Q-1 classification applies to participants in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the alien’s home country.