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USA Temporary Worker Visas

As a rule, foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States must first obtain either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence before they can enter the country.

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USA Temporary Work Visa Requirements and Application Guidelines

As of February 19, 2016, all persons seeking to enter the United States to perform temporary agricultural work must present a valid passport and a valid H-2A visa to gain entry to the United States. All Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Tobago nationals, and the British, French, and Dutch are now subject to this requirement. Any spouse or child accompanying or following the H-2A agricultural worker to the U.S. must also obtain a visa.

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USA work visa overview

The United States is a popular tourist destination and a preferred place for gainful employment. High wages and positive working conditions in the United States attract workers from all over the world. When seeking employment in the United States, you have two options:

  • As a temporary employee
  • As a sponsored/permanent employee

Temporary workers need a non-immigrant visa to work in the United States, while sponsored workers require an Immigrant Visa. Everything you need to know about temporary work in the US and acquiring a work visa is included in this article.

Our team of business immigration consultants has expertise in helping employers and qualified workers in a range of industries and businesses of all sizes. Planning assistance from our consultants will help you reach your start date and guarantee that the direction of your career fits your immigration objectives.

Temporary worker visa categories

Depending on your goals and the type of work you intend to operate, there are various US work visa categories.
The various categories of temporary work visas for the United States are as follows:

To work as a specialist in a particular field of expertise. This position requires the completion of a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.

Working in a specialty occupation. In the field of specialization, the student must have a post-secondary education involving at least four years of study. Please note that this is not a petition-based visa. For more information about the application procedure, please contact Royal Migration here.

Agricultural work that is temporary or seasonal. Only citizens or nationals of designated countries are eligible, with limited exceptions if in the interests of the United States.

Non-agricultural work that is temporary or seasonal. Citizens or nationals of designated countries are only permitted to participate, with limited exceptions, if it is determined that it is in the United States’ interests to do so.

This is a training program that provides trainees with the opportunity to obtain training, other than graduate medical or academic training, that is not available to them in their native countries, and which also includes practical training programs in the education of children who have mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

To work in a management or executive position with, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge, for a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer, or to work in a position that requires a high degree of knowledge.  The individual must have worked continuously for the same employer abroad for one year within the last three years.

This visa is intended for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities or achievements in the sciences, art, education, business, athletics, or the motion picture and television industries. These individuals have been recognized nationally and internationally for their achievements, demonstrating sustained national and international recognition. Persons providing essential services in support of the above individual are also included in this category.

As an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group, to participate in a specific athletic competition. Requires sustained performance at an international level. Persons who provide essential services in support of the above individual are included in this category.

For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

A performance, a teaching or coaching program that reflects a culture that is unique in terms of ethnicity, folklore, culture, musicality, theatre, or artistic presentation. This includes individuals who provide essential support services to the above individual.

For practical training and employment and for sharing the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

Learn more on USA work visa

Here are some relevant points on the US Temporary Work Visas:

Before filing the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS, some temporary worker visa categories require your prospective employer to obtain a certification or other approval from the Department of Labor. Complete the contact form to find out if you need a labour certificate.

In some temporary worker categories, the number of petitions that can be approved per year is limited. If you wish to apply for a temporary worker visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed on your behalf by a prospective employer and approved by USCIS. Contact Royal Migration for more information about the petition process, eligibility requirements, and numerical limits

It is with immediate effect that U.S. Embassy and Consulate offices will adjudicate visa applications that are based on same-sex marriage in the same way that they adjudicate visa applications based on opposite-gender marriage. To get more details on the documentation required for derivative spouses, please refer to the specific guidance for the visa category for which you are applying

USA work visa application process

If USCIS approves your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), you can apply for a visa. The visa application process involves several steps. You may be required to complete these steps in a different order depending on the American Embassy or Consulate where you apply. 

  •  Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – For your interview, you must: 1) complete the visa application and 2) print the confirmation page of the application form. Find out how to complete the DS-160 by filling out the contact form.
  • To complete Form DS-160, you will have to upload your photo. The photograph must follow the format specified in the Photograph Requirements.

Although interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages, consular officers have the discretion to interview any applicant regardless of age.
As a rule, you will need to schedule an appointment for your visa interview with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your country of residence. You can schedule your interview at any United States Embassy or Consulate; however, you should be aware that you may have difficulty qualifying for a visa outside of your permanent residence.
The waiting time for a visa interview appointment depends on the location, the season, and the type of visa you are applying for, so you should apply for your visa as soon as possible.
The receipt number printed on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, will be required to schedule an interview.

Contact Royal Migration to find out the estimated wait time for a nonimmigrant visa interview appointment.

Before your visa interview, gather and prepare the following documents:

  • A passport that is valid for travel to the United States – A passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of your stay in the United States (unless you are exempt by a country-specific agreement). If more than one person is listed on your passport, each person who requires a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Confirmation page for Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160.
  • Receipt of your application fee payment if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo when completing Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring a printed photo in the format described in the Photograph Requirements. 
  • The receipt number from USCIS for your approved petition that appears on your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797.

A nonimmigrant petition based on a blanket L petition must be brought to the interview if you are included in an L blanket petition.

Applicants for H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visas should read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet to understand their rights and protections in the United States. Before applying for your visa, review this important information.
There may be a need for additional documentation. To demonstrate your intent to return home after your temporary stay in the United States, all visa applicants, except H-1B and L, must generally demonstrate compelling ties to your home country. Among the compelling ties are:

  • A residence abroad that you do not intend to abandon
  • Your family relationships
  • Your economic situation
  • Your long-term plans

An immigration officer will determine whether you are eligible for a visa and, if so, which visa category is suitable for your purpose of travel during your visa interview. In order to receive the visa category for which you are applying, you must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law. 

As part of the application process, your fingerprints will be scanned digitally, without ink. This is usually done during your interview, but it can vary depending on where you are. Depending on the outcome of your visa interview, your application may need to be processed further administratively. The consular officer will inform you if further processing is required for your application.
Upon approval of the visa, you may be required to pay a visa issuance fee, depending upon your nationality. You will also be informed how your passport with the visa will be returned to you. 

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to enter the United States through a port of entry (usually an airport). It is not guaranteed that you will be able to enter the United States with a visa. United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials can grant or deny entry to the United States if CBP officials provide you with an admission stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record if you are allowed to enter the United States of America.

Extending your stay

Unless USCIS approves an extension of your stay, you must depart the United States by the date indicated on your admission stamp or Form I-94.

You must depart the United States on time to be out of status. In accordance with U.S. law, out-of-status travellers’ visas are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). You would not be able to enter the United States again if your multiple-entry visa was voided because you were out of status. If you do not depart the United States on time, you may be ineligible for future visas.

Change of status

If you are in the United States, you may be able to request that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status. 

It is not necessary to apply for a new visa when you request a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires. Should you be unable to remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional information

  • It is not a guarantee that you will receive a visa after your petition is approved. Until you have a visa, do not make final travel plans, or buy tickets.
  • Spouse and Children
  • You may also apply for the same visa category as your spouse and unmarried, minor children who will accompany or join you, except for Cultural Exchange Visitor Q-1 visa applicants. You must be able to show that you will be able to financially support your family while you are in the United States. 
  • Visas are valid until their expiration date unless cancelled or revoked.  An expired passport does not invalidate a valid U.S. visa. If your expired passport contains a valid visa, do not remove it. Travel and admission to the United States are possible with a valid visa in an expired passport and a new valid passport.

You will use the same application process whether you are applying for your first visa or renewing it (see How to Apply, above). Applicants seeking visa renewals in certain visa classes may qualify for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP), which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person.

The willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may lead to the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry. 

Canada and Bermuda citizens do not need visas to enter the United States as temporary workers; however, USCIS approval is required. 

Questions? You’re covered

If circumstances have changed regarding your application, yes.

No. The is no age limit to applying for a work visa. However, an in-person visa interview may be requested by the US Embassy for some age groups

You may not enter the United States until 10 days before your initial employment start date, as noted on your Form I-797 or your offer of employment letter.

USA Work Visa Eligibility Check

Are you eligible for the USA work visa?

Our team of business immigration consultants has expertise in helping employers and qualified workers in a range of industries and businesses of all sizes. Fill out the form to discuss your USA work visa application.

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