Obtaining Temporary Work Permits – VIDEO
Our Immigration Law Firm consults with many U.S. employers and their foreign workers about how to obtain a work permit. There are different types of temporary work visas available, based on the particular job and the employee’s qualifications, for professionals, laborers, executives, investors, scientists, artists and others.
Here are the most typical ones:
A graduating foreign student on a student visa may obtain a 12-month work permit for Optional Practical Training, otherwise known as OPT, when completing an academic program.
A student with a STEM degree, one in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math, is eligible for an additional 2-year OPT work permit, so long as the U.S. employer participates in the government’s E-Verify program.
F-1 students still working on their degrees may apply for Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, work permits for work-study. In either case, the work is supposed to be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
A graduating J-1 exchange visitor student may also obtain a 12-month OPT work permit. And there are other types of exchange visitor programs which permit employment – for visiting scholars, researchers, trainees and others.
Another popular work permit is the H1B visa for professional workers. Companies, schools, nonprofits and government entities can hire foreign professional workers for up to 6 years, sometimes longer, under this program.
- First, the position must be in a “specialty occupation,” defined as a position normally requiring a certain type of university degree, bachelor level or higher. For example, a bookkeeping position would not qualify as a “specialty occupation,” but an Accountant position would, since the knowledge required to perform the duties of an Accountant is normally attained in a bachelor or higher-level university program.
- Second, the foreign worker must possess the required degree or at least its equivalency in work experience.
- Third, the employer must agree to pay the worker the “prevailing wage,” defined as the average wage Americans make in the same position and the same geographical areas, for example a Telecommunications Engineer in Dallas, TX.
There is a quota of 85,000 H-1B visas available each year for private companies. This quota has been filled each year for several years, ever since Congress lowered the number of available H-1B visas from its former high of 135,000.
Some spouses of H-1B workers may qualify for their own work permits.
There are other types of work permits available. Multinational managerial transferees not only gain permission to work in the U.S. branches of their companies, but also have an expedited path to permanent residence in the U.S., if that is the goal.
And spouses of L-1 workers may obtain their own work permits.
Persons at the top of their fields in the Arts, Sciences, Business or Athletics may obtain O-1 visas to work here temporarily.
Investors in the U.S. economy or those involved in trade with the United States from qualifying countries may obtain “E” visas, permitting them to reside in the U.S. while running their businesses here.
Religious organizations may obtain R-1 “Religious Worker” visas for certain ministers, teachers and others employees.
Obtaining permission to work in the United States can be complex, so consult about it with a competent and accessible immigration attorney.