There are several visas, both temporary (non-immigrant) and permanent (immigrant visas) that are available and allow foreign nationals to work in the US for a US employer. Not all visas are available for nationals of all countries. See our link on visas by nationality to see the visas that are available for your country.
Most work visas require a petitioning employer-that is, the foreign worker must have a job offer from a US employer. However, some visas may be self-petitioned by the foreign worker-that is, no job offer is required.
The time that it takes to obtain a permanent/immigrant visa depends upon the preference category and the nationality of the worker.
The process of obtaining a temporary work visa is independent and distinct from the process of obtaining a permanent visa/ green ard. A foreign worker need not be currently employed by a US employer on a non-immigrant visa for the US employer to petition an immigrant visa. However, it is common to find that a person is already employed with a US company on a temporary non-immigrant visa before the company sponsors the permanent visa/green card for that person.
The popular categories of work visas (both temporary and permanent) are listed below:
- Visa for nurses and health care workers
- Visa for artists, entertainers and athletes
- TN visa for Canadian and Mexican Nationals
- EB-1 (visa for persons with extraordinary ability)
- EB-1 (visa for multinational executives & managers)
- EB-1 (visa for professors and researchers)
- EB-2 (people with advanced degrees and/or exceptional ability)
- EB-3 (visas for skilled workers and/or professionals with at least a Bachelors Degree