Types of work permits

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There are several kinds of visas that allow you to work in the United States. Some of these visas are non-immigrant visas that are issued for fixed time periods and usually specific jobs, and the rest are permanent residence visas - green cards - that allow you work any job and become a U.S. citizen.

The most common and easiest to obtain non-immigrant visa is the H-1B professional person's visa. If you have a college degree or higher and have a job offer from a U.S. company that will sponsor you, you can obtain an H-1B visa. The visa traditionally takes around 30 days to obtain, is valid for one to three years, is renewable, and requires that you work only for the sponsoring company. If you want to change jobs, you will need to obtain a new H-1B visa.

If you come from a country that has a treaty of navigation with the U.S. - such as any country from the European Union - you can obtain an E-2 visa that allows you to start your own business in the U.S. The business must be well capitalized, with at least $25,000, and not represent your only source of income. You can also obtain the E-2 visa in roughly 30 days. The H-1B and the E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas that can be converted to permanent residence visas.

There are also visas for people of unique abilities such as professional athletes and scientists.

An investment visa allows you to invest $500,000 in a business in a rural area or $1,000,000 in an urban area. The investment visa is a permanent residence visa.


If you do not have a college degree or skills that are in demand, such as computer software engineering or nursing, you must have a job offer with a U.S. company that is willing to sponsor you for a labor certification. This process takes many years to complete but leaves you with a green card.

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 a communicable disease, or have a dangerous physical or mental disorder.

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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