Many people around the world dream of having an opportunity to come and work in the United States. Many of them come with the knowledge that there are jobs available in the US with better pay and conditions. Thus a raft of rules and regulations to help non-immigrants navigate through the process has been put in place by the authorities to help them navigate this situation. Over time the rules have been getting stricter as to who can come in and why.

The Guest Worker Program

Due to the lack of available U.S. workers to help propel the booming economy, the U.S. government has established the Guest Worker program. This program provides qualified individuals with work visas, allowing them the ability to live and work in the United States anywhere from three months to three years (this is done under certain conditions after strict vetting then selection).

Non-Immigrant Visas

There are many different types of visas reserved for various jobs, lengths of stay, and countries of origin. The USCIS website (link is shown below) details over sixty types of non-immigrant visas alone. The process of maneuvering around and applying for these visas can be difficult, if not impossible for a single individual. Many of the workers interested in acquiring a work visa have to apply for work with an international recruiter. These recruiters are usually able to offer them a position in a U.S. business, and can provide aid and advice in choosing a status and location.

Non-immigrant visas typically have a limit placed upon them as to how many applicants can receive the status. With H-2B and H-1B visas, the cap is 66,000 individuals per year. The cap is divided into two periods of 33,000 applicants per period.

It is notoriously difficult to get these types of visas, unless the applicant is able to apply as soon as the opportunity to do so arises. Applicants that wait to 30 days prior to the opening of the cap often miss out on the chance to be approved to hire non-immigrant workers.

Temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Each of these visas requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with the USCIS. An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa.

Temporary worker visa categories

Visa category 

General description – About an individual in this category:

H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires 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.

H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional Chile, Singapore

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa. For application procedures, please refer to the website for the U.S. Embassy in Chile or the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.)

H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker

For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker

For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor

To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

L: Intracompany Transferee

To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.  Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years.

O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group

To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

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.

P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

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

Labor Certification

Some temporary worker visa categories require a prospective employer to obtain a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor on behalf of the potential migrant worker before filing the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS. The prospective employer should review the Instructions for Form I-129 on the USCIS website to determine whether labor certification is required for the prospective worker.

Petition Approval

Some temporary worker categories are limited in total number of petitions which can be approved on a yearly basis. Before one can 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 one’s behalf by a prospective employer and be approved by USCIS. For more information  about the petition process, eligibility requirements by visa category, and numerical limits, if applicable, see Working in the U.S. and Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers on the USCIS website. Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send the prospective employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797.

How to Apply

After USCIS approves the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), one may apply for a visa. There are several steps in the visa application process. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where one applies for the visa. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website.

Complete The Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.

  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age:

Then an interview is:

13 and younger

Generally not required


Required (some exceptions for renewals)

80 and older

Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the home country where one lives. One can schedule an interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of one’s place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so one should apply for the visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

Check the estimated wait time for a non-immigrant visa interview appointment as a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For more information you can visit the following sites

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