The United States is a land of opportunity that continues to attract talented individuals and businesses from all over the world. As a British citizen, if you're considering working in the US, you'll need to understand the various forms of work visas available. Most visa categories require you to have a job offer or invest money. This guide provides information about some common US work visas, their requirements, and the application process.
What Are US Work Visas?
US work visas are legal documents that authorize UK citizens to work legally in the United States. They are issued by the US government to foreign nationals who meet specific criteria based on their purpose of travel and type of work they intend to do.
There are various types of US work visas available, each with its unique requirements and application process. Please note that in most cases you need an employer to be able to come under a US visa category.
Types of US Work Visas
There are several types of US work visas that British citizens and others can apply for. Each visa type is designed for a specific category of workers or investors and has its eligibility criteria and application process.
1. H-1B Visa: This visa is for specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields. It is a popular visa category to enable those with a US employer to work in the US. Unfortunately, due to the small H1B visa quota it is difficult to come under.
2. L-1 Visa: This visa is for employees of international companies who are being temporarily transferred to a US branch of the same company. It is worth considering for managers, executives, or employees with specialized knowledge who have worked for the business outside the US for at least one year in the last three years.
3. E-2 Investor Visa: This visa is for those who want to invest a substantial amount of capital in a US business. It may be a good choice for British investors planning to establish or expand a business in the United States.
4. O-1 Visa: This visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. It is difficult to come under and is suitable for those who have received national or international recognition for their exceptional talents.
5. J-1 Visa: This visa is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. It may be relevant for students, scholars, and professionals participating in cultural exchange programs.
7. B-1 Business Visitor Visa: This visa is for those who plan to visit the United States for a short period for business-related activities. It doesn't allow for gainful employment in the US but can be used for meetings, conferences, and other business activities.
Work Visa Requirements
All US work visas have specific eligibility requirements that must be met. In most cases for the H1B visa you need to come under the quota which is difficult. For the L1 visa you need to have worked for the business for at least one year in the last three years. For the E2 visa you need to be a national of an E2 Treaty Country. For the O1 visa you need to be one of the top people in your field. For the J1 visa you have to come under a particular J1 exchange visitor scheme. As a B1 visitor you need to be travelling to the US to do business visitor activities.
Detailed Overview of US Work Visas
1. H-1B Visa
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa designed for foreign workers in specialty occupations. These occupations typically require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, information technology, medicine, among others.
To qualify for an H-1B visa, the British citizen must have a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university. Alternatively, they can have an equivalent foreign degree, a state license to practice the occupation, or experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of a degree.
The US employer, known as the sponsor, initiates the H-1B visa application process. The employer must submit a prevailing wage request, and Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor (DOL). Once the LCA is approved, the employer files a Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, Form I-129, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
2. L-1 Visa
The L-1 visa allows international companies to transfer employees to an office in the United States. It's divided into two sub-categories: L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge.
To qualify for an L-1 visa, a British employee must have worked for the transferring company for at least one continuous year within the past three years. The US and foreign branches must have a qualifying relationship, such as parent and subsidiary or branches of the same organization.
The US employer files a Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, Form I-129, on behalf of the employee. If the company frequently transfers employees, it may be eligible for a blanket L petition, which simplifies the process.
3. E-2 Investor Visa
The E-2 investor visa allows foreign investors from treaty nations, including the UK, to invest a substantial amount of capital in a US business. The investor must own at least 50% of the business or have operational control.
To qualify for an E-2 visa, the British investor must make a "substantial" investment in a bona fide enterprise in the United States. The business must not be marginal, meaning it must have the capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a living for the investor and their family.
The investor applies in most cases for the E-2 visa at the US embassy or consulate in their country of residence. They must submit Form DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, and provide supporting documents demonstrating their investment and the viability of the business.
4. O-1 Visa
The O-1 visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. It's intended for those who have received national or international acclaim for their achievements.
To qualify for an O-1 visa, a British citizen must demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field. This can be shown through evidence of a major, internationally recognized award, or documentation of at least three other types of achievements, such as membership in associations, published material about the individual, or a high salary.
The US employer or agent files a Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, Form I-129, with the USCIS. The petition must include evidence of the individual's extraordinary ability and a written advisory opinion from a peer group or labor organization.
Navigating the complex landscape of US work visas can be challenging. It can also be difficult meeting the requirements of a particular work visa category. Unfortunately, many people may be unable to meet the requirements.
workpermit.com helps with US Work Visa: L1, H1B, E2, and O1 Visas
There are various types of US visas that individuals can apply for, depending on their circumstances. Some of the most common employment-based visas include:
L1 visa: This visa is for intracompany transferees who work in managerial or executive positions or have specialized knowledge.
H1B visa: This visa is for specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields.
E2 visa: This visa is for investors who have made a significant investment in a US business and, management or essential skills employees. Only certain nationalities can apply.
O1 visa: This visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.
Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. For more information and advice, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at email@example.com(link sends e-mail)