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What is a Work Visa?

Work visas are a large portion of the almost 200 different types of visas in the US. Generally speaking, they allow a foreign national to enter and work in the United States either permanently or for a specific period of time. They might come in the form of a printed document, a passport stamp or sticker, or an electronic record.

How Can I Get Sponsorship for a US Work Visa?

Before you can even apply for a US work visa, you must have a job offer from a specific US employer. The employer will then sponsor your visa by filing a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This type of work visa is part of a wider category of visas called petition-based visas.

Types of US Nonimmigrant Work Visas That Need Employment Sponsorship

Nonimmigrant work visas are designed for individuals who intend to work in the United States temporarily before returning to their home country. These visas are typically used for short-term work assignments, projects, or training programs. There are several types of nonimmigrant work visas that require employment sponsorship, including:

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is the most popular type of US work visa, and it allows companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers in specialty fields such as:

  • Architecture
  • Science
  • Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Accounting

To qualify for an H-1B visa, the employee must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in the relevant field, and the employer must demonstrate that they cannot find a qualified US citizen or permanent resident to fill the position. The H-1B visa is typically valid for three years, but it can be extended for an additional three years.

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa, also known as the Intra-Company Transfer Visa, is designed for temporarily transferring an employee to a US branch or subsidiary of their current employer. This visa is typically used for executives, managers, and specialized knowledge employees who need to work in the US for a short period.

To qualify for an L-1 visa, the employee must have worked for the company outside of the US for at least one year within the three years preceding the transfer, and the employer must have a qualifying relationship with the US company.

O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in their field, such as:

  • Artists
  • Athletes
  • Movie stars
  • Television personalities
  • Musicians
  • Writers
  • Scientists
  • Educators

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the individual must demonstrate extraordinary ability through achievements such as awards, recognition, and publications. The employer must also demonstrate that they cannot find a qualified US citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.

These nonimmigrant work visas offer a great opportunity for individuals to work in the US temporarily, gain valuable experience, and then return to their home country. However, the application process can be complex, and it’s essential to work with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure a successful application.

Types of US Immigrant Work Visas That Need Employment Sponsorship

Immigrant work visas are designed for individuals who intend to live and work in the United States permanently. These visas offer a path to permanent residency and eventually, US citizenship. There are five categories of immigrant work visas that require employment sponsorship, including:

First Preference: Priority Workers (EB-1)

The First Preference category is reserved for priority workers, including:

  • Extraordinary ability individuals (e.g., Nobel Prize winners, Olympic athletes, renowned artists)

  • Outstanding professors and researchers

  • Multinational executives and managers

To qualify for an EB-1 visa, the individual must demonstrate extraordinary ability or achievement in their field, and the employer must demonstrate that they cannot find a qualified US citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.

Second Preference: Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability (EB-2)

The Second Preference category is for professionals holding advanced degrees (master’s or higher) or individuals with exceptional ability in their field, including:

  • Advanced degree professionals (e.g., engineers, scientists, doctors)

  • Exceptional ability individuals (e.g., experts in their field, high-achievers)

To qualify for an EB-2 visa, the individual must have a advanced degree or demonstrate exceptional ability, and the employer must demonstrate that they cannot find a qualified US citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.

Third Preference: Professionals and Other Workers (EB-3)

The Third Preference category is for professionals and other workers, including:

  • Skilled workers (e.g., electricians, plumbers, carpenters)
  • Professionals (e.g., accountants, lawyers, teachers)
  • Unskilled workers (e.g., laborers, food service workers)
To qualify for an EB-3 visa, the individual must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, and the employer must demonstrate that they cannot find a qualified US citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.
Fourth Preference: Certain Special Immigrants (EB-4)
The Fourth Preference category is for certain special immigrants, including:
  • Religious workers
  • Broadcasters
  • Armed forces members
  • Afghan and Iraqi interpreters/translators
To qualify for an EB-4 visa, the individual must meet specific requirements and have a job offer from a US employer.

Fifth Preference: Employment Creation/Investors (EB-5)

The Fifth Preference category is for employment creation/investors, including:
  • Entrepreneurs who create a new business in the US
  • Investors who invest in a US business and create jobs
To qualify for an EB-5 visa, the individual must invest a significant amount of capital in a US business and create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers.
These immigrant work visas offer a path to permanent residency and US citizenship, but the application process can be complex and time-consuming. It’s essential to work with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure a successful application.

 

How Much Does US Work Visa Sponsorship Cost?

The cost of obtaining a US work visa can vary widely, depending on several factors, including:

  • Type of work visa required (e.g., H-1B, L-1, O-1)

  • Size of the company

  • Number of existing employees on work visas

  • Legal fees for petition preparation and filing

  • Government filing fees

  • Premium processing fees (optional)

On average, the total cost of obtaining a US work visa can range from $2,000 to $10,000 or more. The sponsoring employer is typically responsible for covering most of these costs, but the employee may be required to pay a portion of the fees, such as:

  • Travel costs for visa interviews or medical examinations

  • Document translation or authentication fees

  • Premium processing fees (if optional)

What is a Sponsorship Letter?

A sponsorship letter, also known as an employment sponsorship letter or visa sponsorship letter, is a crucial document that outlines the terms of your job offer and the sponsorship arrangement. It is typically prepared by the US employer and addressed to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The sponsorship letter should include:
  • Job title and description
  • Salary and benefits
  • Employment duration
  • Job requirements and qualifications
  • Information about the company
  • Sponsorship terms and conditions
The sponsorship letter is an essential part of the work visa application process, and it is one of the first documents that USCIS will request when they receive your petition. The letter serves as proof of the employer’s intention to hire and sponsor the foreign worker, and it helps to establish the legitimacy of the employment offer.
It’s important to note that the sponsorship letter must be prepared carefully and accurately, as any errors or omissions can delay or even result in the denial of the work visa application.

Conclusion

In conclusion, obtaining a US work visa requires a job offer from a US employer and sponsorship through a petition-based visa process. Understanding the different types of nonimmigrant and immigrant work visas, as well as the costs involved, can help guide you through this complex process. Additionally, a well-prepared sponsorship letter is crucial in supporting your visa application. 

By following this guide, you can increase your chances of successfully obtaining a US work visa and starting your journey to working in the United States.

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