There are many different types of worker visas for those wishing to come to the U.S. for either temporary or long-term employment. It’s important to understand that not all worker visas are immigrant visas. Some people arrive with nonimmigrant visas, which allow entry for a designated period of time, but do not include a path to permanent residence.
There are many different types of work visas, but we’ll briefly list who qualifies for some of the most common (this list is not exhaustive).
Employment-based immigrant visas:
- EB-1: for people of “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers”
- EB-2: for those holding advanced degrees or with “exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business”
- EB-3: for skilled workers, professionals, and “other workers” who are performing work for which qualified workers in the U.S. cannot be found
- EB-4: “special immigrants,” which include certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, noncitizen minors who are wards of courts in the U.S., and some others.
- EB-5: business investors who invest at certain levels in commercial enterprise and who employ at least 10 full-time U.S. workers
These visa categories are extremely limited. About 140,000 are available each year, including the spouses and children of applicants. There are also special labor certification requirements for employers seeking to hire workers with EB-2 and EB-3 visas.
Employment-based nonimmigrant visas:
- H-1B: workers in a specialty occupation that meet specific sub-classifications
- H-2A: temporary or seasonal agricultural workers
- H-2B: temporary non-agricultural workers
While H-2A visas do not currently have an annual cap, H-1B and H-2B visas are limited. The duration of the visas also vary by visa type, and for H-2A visas the duration will vary based on the seasonal work provided by the employer.