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There are many temporary immigration categories that allow foreign nationals to engage in employment in the United States. It is generally necessary to have a specific employment offer through a U.S. employer or sponsor. The United States does not have a generic work visa for individuals who wish to come to the U.S. to find jobs. Foreign nationals generally need to obtain a visa at a consulate abroad, based upon a petition filed by a U.S. employer. Those who are already in the United States may be able to change their statuses to employment-based categories, with appropriate employer support. Employment-based, nonimmigrant categories include, among others, H1B (specialty occupation), L1A/B (intra-company transferee) and J-1 (exchange visitors).


  • Most (but not all) require employer to obtain USCIS approval of a petition
  • Limitations on the amount of time temporary workers may remain in the United States (vary by category)
  • The specific requirements for each of the categories differ.
  • Requirements often depend upon the type of work and level of education and/or training required.