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Temporary Work Visas

Differences Between H-1B, J-1, E-1, E-2, L-1, and R-1 Work Visas

H-1B Specialty Occupations

H-1B visas are the most common route to work in the United States for most professional foreign workers. To obtain an H-1B visa you need a job offer from a U.S. employer, where the position requires a minimum four-year baccalaureate degree, and the applicant has the relevant education and/or work experience to fulfill the requirement. Additionally, the employer must pay the prevailing wage in that specific area for that specific position. Specialty occupations in this category are: information technology professionals, physicians who graduated from U.S. medical schools and passed parts 1 and 2 of the USMLE, physicians who graduated from foreign medical schools and passed all three parts of the USMLE, registered nurses with state RN licenses, journalists, accountants, researchers and scientists.

J-1 Exchange visitors

The Department of State (formerly USIA) grants numerous educational institutions and organizations the right to sponsor persons as exchange visitors on the J-1 visa program. J-1 visa holders are restricted to working, studying or participating in the specific exchange programs for which the visa has been approved. Persons with skills listed on the USIA's exchange visitors skills list, or graduate medical training requires that the J-1 visa holder comply with a two year foreign residency requirement (INA sec. 212(e)) after the expiration of his/her stay.

E-1 Treaty Traders and E-2 Treaty Investors

Owners and key employees of businesses that conduct a substantial volume of trade between the United States and the home country are treaty traders (E-1) and a treaty investor (E-2) has invested in the United States and jobs created for U.S. workers. To qualify for an E-2, the home country must have a treaty with the United States.

L-1 Intracompany Transferees

One qualifies for an L-1 visa if you have been employed outside the United States as a manager, executive (L-1A) or person with specialized knowledge (L-1B) for at least one of the last three years, and you are transferred to the United States to be employed in a similar position. The U.S. company to which you are transferring must be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of the non-U.S. company. The non-U.S. company must remain in operation while you have the L-1 visa. Said company may be either a foreign division of an American-based company or it may have originated outside the United States. Any form of business is adequate, including but not limited to corporations, LLCs, LLPs, partnerships, joint ventures and sole proprietorships. There are no quota limits on L-1 visas.

R-1 Religious Workers

To qualify for an R-1 visa, you must be a member of a religious denomination for at least 2 years and have a job offer in the United States to work for an affiliate of that same religious denomination. R-1 visas are for either clergy or lay religious workers. Successful applicants need not have worked for the religious organization but must have been members of it for at least two years.

Other Work Visa Categories

Other temporary work visa categories include: temporary trainees (H-3), persons of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or sports (O-1/2) and athletes and entertainers (P).

Reasons Visas are Deined

The immigration laws of the United States, in order to protect the health, welfare, and security of the U.S., prohibit the issuance of a visa to certain applicants. Examples of applicants who must be refused visas are those who:

    Have committed serious criminal act.
  • Are terrorists, subversives, members of a totalitarian party, or former Nazi war criminals.
  • Have used illegal means to enter the U.S.
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