Working in the United States on a temporary basis requires the worker to have the appropriate type of visa. It’s illegal for foreign nationals to come to the U.S. as visitors while intending to work here. If someone on a visitor visa is suspected of working without the proper authorization, they can be prevented from re-entering the country in the future. Considering the severe consequences that might result from taking such an action, it’s imperative that you understand the various nonimmigrant visa types that allow you to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis.
The H-2B Visa for Non-Agricultural Workers
The H-2B is the most common short-term visa and allows you to work in the U.S. for up to 10 months. Those in the construction, hospitality, resort, and technology industries may benefit the most from an H-2B visa. To qualify, your employment must be for a seasonal, peak load, or intermittent need and temporary. Your employer will need to attest that they offer a wage exceeding the highest prevailing wage for the occupation and the location. They will also need to prove they have a temporary need.
The H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers
This visa allows individual workers to stay in the U.S. for work for a duration of 6 months or less. It’s designed to fill temporary agricultural jobs. To qualify for this visa, your employer must:
- Need to fill a temporary or seasonal role.
- Show that there aren’t enough U.S. workers who can or will perform the temporary work.
- Demonstrate that employing people on an H-2A visa won’t adversely impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
- Submit a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor with your H-2A petition.
After the temporary need has been eliminated, the employee can go back to their home country. Then the U.S. employer is allowed to file another H-2A petition when the need arises for the worker as many as three times.
J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa
This nonimmigrant visa is for exchange visitors who want to be involved in an approved program for the purpose of:
- conducting research
- demonstrating special skills
- receiving training
- receiving graduate medical education or training
The U.S. Department of State designates exchange programs to sponsor J-1 visa nonimmigrants. Exchange programs are designed to promote the exchange of people, skills, and knowledge in the arts, education, and science fields.
Qualifying exchange visitors typically include:
- professors or scholars
- research assistants
- au pairs
- camp counselors
Usually, J-1 visa applicants are involved in a three-month travel program over the summer months to engage in short-term temporary employment authorized by the U.S. Department of State. Hospitality establishments, including restaurants, ski resorts, and service businesses, are generally sponsors in the J-1 cultural exchange program.
Do You Have Questions about a Work Visa?
Immigration and work visas are complex topics that can be difficult to understand. However, a misunderstanding can lead to severe consequences if you are trying to enter the U.S. temporarily for work. It’s in your best interest to meet with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you understand your options and choose the best one to fit your needs. Contact one today to find out more about which type of visa might be right for you.