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Introduction to US non-immigrant work visas

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We can help you decide on the type of US non-immigrant work visa to apply for when bringing in non-US nationals. There are almost 60 different types of temporary US non-immigrant visas in addition to several employment based immigrant permanent residence routes, known as the 'Green Card'. This guide should provide you with a basic understanding of the various US non-immigrant work visa routes.

This on-line guide cover the most commonly used visas for professional and management level staff. If you have a query about another visa type, please contact us.

Usually the best way in which to employ people in the US is to apply for a non-immigrant work visa such at the L-1 visa, E-2 visa or H-1B visa.  The employment based immigrant categories (Green Cards) will probably take too long . Once the candidate arrives in the US on the USA visa, you can then look at applying for an employment based immigrant visa.

L-1A Managers and Executives and L-1B Specialzed Knowledge Worker Visas

The L-1 US non-immigrant work visa  can be used to transfer staff who have been employed for at least one year in the last three years by your parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies outside the US to a new or existing office in the US.   This is also a useful visa route for businesses wishing to set up a new business in the US with a minimal investment.

B-1 Business Visitor visas

If you wish to send someone to the US on a short term basis for say six months it may be worth applying for a B-1 business visitor visa.  If you wish to send someone to the US that is a national of a visa waiver Country for up to ninety days then this is a quicker process.  Visit visas in the US are called B-1 visitors for business visas or B-2 visitors for pleasure visas. Please see our B1 Visitor Visa page for more details.

TN1 Visas for Canadians

Easier visa options exist is if the candidate you wish to hire is a Canadian. The NAFTA Treaty between the US and Canada mean that it is far easier to obtain a work visa for people in certain occupations if the candidate is Canadian. Please see our TN1 visa page (for more information. Unfortunately, Canada suffers from many of the same skills shortages as the US, so you may need to consider hiring someone from elsewhere instead.

H-1B Visas

Concerning the US work visa, there are three main categories for professionals. The H-1B visa is probably the best known non-immigrant work visa.  However, when the US economy is doing well the visa runs out at the beginning of April within a few days.  There is then a lottery for the available visas.    US employers wishing to employ graduate level staff may wish to consider applying for the H-1B visa.  However, because of the shortage of visas the likelihood of success is low. Advice and Assistance with US Visas

If you would like to please feel free to contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at for assistance.


The table below provides a summary of the main types of US work visas available.

VisaDesignationUsesMax. Stay
B1Business VisitorFor business people making sales, conducting negotiations, attending meetings and seeking investments.6 months
H1BSpeciality Occupation WorkerFor individuals having the equivalent of a US bachelor degree (Foreign degrees and/or work experiencemay be found to be equivalent to a US bachelor degree).6 Years
L1AIntra Company TransfereeFor executives or managers who have worked for at least one year in the past three for a foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office of the US company that will employ them.7 Years


For specialized knowledge employees who have worked for at least one year in the past three for a foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office of the proposed US employer.5 Years
E1Treaty TraderFor staff to direct and develop import / export trade between the US and the treaty country.Indefinite (varies depending on nationality - up to 5 year increments)
E2Treaty InvestorFor staff to direct and develop investments made in the US by a treaty country national/companyIndefinite (varies depending on nationality - up to 5 year increments)
Permanent residenceFirst Preference Priority WorkerFor international managers and executives. Also for aliens with extraordinary ability and outstanding Professors/Researchers.Permanent
Permanent residenceSecond Preference Priority WorkerProfessionals with advanced degrees or those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.Permanent
Permanent ResidenceThird Preference WorkerProfessionals with basic degrees, and skilled workers. Also "other workers" who have less than two years of relevant experience.Permanent
'TN1'Canadian ProfessionalFor Canadian professionals and managers.

Indefinite (1 year increments)


Further information, help, and advice's team of specialists has thirty years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a US qualified lawyer that is also  typically a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at