Permanent Worker Visas
- Green Card through Employment
Applies to various employment categories which lead to the green card.
- Green Card for Physicians
The National Interest Waiver for Physicians who work in underserved
- Extraordinary Ability (EB1)
Persons of Extraordinary Ability may be eligible for this immigrant visa. This allows the alien to bypass the labor certification process and forego the requirement of a job offer.
- Outstanding Professor/Researcher (EB1)
This category is for "outstanding" academicians - professors and researchers who can establish a high level/degree of achievement in their fields.
- Multinational Executives/Managers (EB1)
This immigrant visa category is designed to facilitate international transfer of executive or managerial personnel within multinational companies.
- Advanced Degree Professional (EB2)
This immigrant visa category is for "members of the professions holding advanced degrees," and "aliens of exceptional ability."
- Professional Workers (EB3)
This is for individuals who are professionals.
- Skilled Workers (EB3)
This is for individuals who are skilled workers.
- Nurses/Physical Therapist (EB3)
Applies to visas for a nurse or physical therapist.
- National Interest Waivers
This immigrant visa category allows a person to apply for permanent residence status (Green Card) and seek a waiver of the offer of employment by establishing that his (her) admission to permanent residence would be in the National Interest.
- Immigrant Investor (EB5 Visa)
This is a visa category is designed for those who invest one million dollars in a new enterprise that employs 10 U.S. workers (exclusive of the immigrant, his/her spouse and sons and daughters) or $500,000 if the investment is in certain rural areas or an area of unemployment of at least 150% of the national average.
- Department of Labor Processing Times
Processing dates for labor certification applications. The times for processing labor certification applications vary greatly between regional offices and State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) based upon their workload.
- Labor Certification Overview
A labor certification from the U.S. DOL is the necessary first step in most employment-based immigrant visa petitions. This link provides a general overview of the steps involved in this complex process.
Temporary Work Visas
Employers who wish to hire foreign workers to temporarily perform
services or labor or to receive training may file an I-129
petition. The I-129 is mainly used for nonimmigrant categories; thus,
in most cases, workers who enter the United States under this petition
must depart the U.S. when their maximum period of stay has been
reached. Form I-129 may also be used to petition for an extension of
stay or change of status for certain non-immigrants.
There are many categories of workers who are temporary visitors and
who may be petitioned for on the I-129. These nonimmigrant
classifications are symbolized by letters which generally correspond
to the visas issued by the State Department. Only those categories
incorporating employment or investment will be covered here.
Temporary Work Visas - Filing the I-129 Petition
USCIS Form I-129 consists of a basic petition and different
supplements that apply to the various visa categories. In order to
petition for a temporary worker, the prospective employer or agent
must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and the
appropriate supplement with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) accompanied by the required payment, and initial
evidence or documentation.
In some cases, the employer must get a certificate from the Department
of Labor prior to filing the I-129. This process is described below in
the appropriate categories.
Once the petition is approved, the employer or agent is sent a Notice
of Approval, Form I-797. Approval of a petition does not guarantee
visa issuance to an applicant. Applicants must also establish that
they are admissible to the U.S. under provisions of the Immigration
and Nationality Act (INA).
Temporary Work Visas - Applying for the Visa
If the prospective worker (beneficiary) is outside of the country, he
must apply for a visa. After the USCIS has approved the I-129 and sent
notice to the consulate in the beneficiary's country, the beneficiary
must file a visa application with the consulate. Some aliens may be
visa exempt. In those cases, the I-129 approval notice is sent to the
port of entry (POE) where the beneficiary intends to apply for
admission. For specific procedures on Visa Application Procedures,
Required Documentation and Visa Ineligibility Waiver, please visit
Visa Services at the Dept. of State.
If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and is changing from one
nonimmigrant status to another, a visa is not required. However, a
visa may be required if the beneficiary subsequently leaves the
U.S. and wishes to re-enter.
Temporary Work Visas - Entry into the U.S.
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into
the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has
authority to deny admission at the port of entry to any applicant who
is inadmissible under INA, even if the applicant has a visa. Also, the
CBP, not the consular officer, determines the period for which the
bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized to remain in the United
States. At the port of entry, CBP officials issue Form I-94, Record of
Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. The
decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay, however, is
made solely by the USCIS.
Temporary Work Visas - When to file
Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6
months before the proposed employment will begin or the extension of
stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days
before the employment will begin, petition processing and subsequent
visa issuance may not be completed before the alien's services are
required or previous employment authorization ends.
Temporary Work Visas - Maximum Stay Info for Temporary Employment Visas
|Class||Initial Stay||Extension of Stay|
|E-1||Two (2) years||Up to 2 years per extension. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.|
|E-2||Two (2) years||Up to 2 years per extension. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.|
|H-1B1||Up to 3 years||Increment of up to 3 years. Total stay limited to 6 years.|
|H-1B2||Up to 3 years||Increment of up to 3 years. Total stay limited to 6 years, with some exceptions.|
|H-1C||Up to 3 years||Total stay limited to 3 years.|
|H-2A and H-2B||Same as validity of labor certification, with maximum of 1 year.||Same as validity of labor certification (increments of up to 1 year). Total stay limited to 3 years.|
|H-3||Special Education Training-up to 18 months. Other
Trainee-up to 2 years||Special Education Trainee-total stay
limited to 18 months. Other Trainee-total stay limited to 2 years.|
|L-1A||Coming to existing office-up to 3 years. Coming to new office-up to 1 year.||Increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 7 years.|
|L-1B||Coming to existing office-up to 3 years. Coming to new office-up to 1 year||One increment of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years.|
|O-1 and O-2||Up to 3 years||Increments of up to 1 year|
|P-1, P-2, P-3 and their support personnel||Individual
athlete-up to 5 years. Athletic groups and Entertainment groups-up
to 1 year.||Individual athlete-Increments of up to 5
years. Total stay limited to 10 years. Athletic groups and entertainment groups-Increments of 1 year.|
|Q-1||Up to 15 months.||Total stay limited to 15 months|
|R-1 and R-2||Up to 3 years||Increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years.|
|All other||Up to 1 year||Increments of up to 1 year|
Temporary Work Visas - Where to file
Generally, petitions are mailed to one of the USCIS Service Centers
based on the place where the proposed employment or training will be
Certain exceptions apply:
- All H1C (nurses) Form I-129s are filed at the Vermont Service Center (VSC). If the person is a Canadian citizen applying for admission as an L-1 under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the petition may be filed at the port of entry when the person applies for entry;
- All TN (NAFTA) Form I-129's are filed at the Nebraska Service Center.
- Applications pertaining to E-1 or E-2 matters may be filed only at the Texas or California service centers. These petitions are to be filed at either (1) the Texas Service Center. If the location of employment is in the areas previously covered by the Vermont and Texas Service Centers, or (2) the California Service Center if the location of employment is in the areas previously covered by the Nebraska and California service centers.
- If an alien currently in E-1 or E-2 status is requesting a change of status to another nonimmigrant classification, the application for change of status must be mailed to one of the USCIS Service Centers with jurisdiction over the new requested classification.
Temporary Work Visas - Fees
The basic fee for an I-129 petition is noted in the I-129 Forms Entry
Page, but there may be additional fees depending on the type of
petition you are filing. (For an additional fee, employers may also
request faster processing of certain applications and petitions by
submitting a form I-907.) For more information, please refer to the
Forms and Fees page.
This page provides you with access to immigration forms. Providing forms online is the most used feature of the USCIS Website.