Work Permit Law

Work permits, or work visas, are not as easy to acquire as they once were. U.S. immigration law is very complex, and can be very confusing. Unfortunately, it has only become more complicated since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. As a result, in order to understand the process of obtaining a work visa, either for permanent or temporary admission to the United States, one must understand the factors related to the law and policies of immigration.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the law governing U.S. immigration policy, provides for an annual limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants (with certain exceptions for close family members).

Permanent Employment-Based Immigration

Permanent employment-based immigration is set at a rate of 140,000 visas per year, and these are divided into five preferences, each subject to numerical limitations. These include (1) persons with extraordinary abilities, (2) members of a profession holding advanced degrees, (3) skilled shortage workers with at least two years of training or experience, (4) certain “special” immigrants (like religious workers or ambassadorial staff), and (5) people who will generate $500,000 to $1 million in job creating enterprises employing at least 10 people.

Temporary Work Visas

For those wishing to only remain in the United States for a limited period of time, there are more than 20 types of visas for temporary, non-immigrant workers. A few of these including L visas for intra-company transfers, P visas for athletes, entertainers and skilled performers, R visas for religious workers, A visas for diplomatic employees, H visas for special occupations such as nursing and agriculture, and many others. Most of the temporary worker categories are for highly skilled workers, and immigrants with a temporary work visa are normally sponsored by a specific employer for a specific job offer. Many of the temporary visa categories have numerical limitations as well, even though they are not permanently immigrating into the US.

National Quotas

In addition to the numerical limits placed upon the various immigration preferences, the INA also places a limit on how many immigrants can come to the United States from any one country. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based and employment-based) from a single country can exceed 7% of the total amount of people immigrating to the United States in a single year. This prevents any one nationality from dominating American immigration patterns.

The resources below will provide you with information on obtaining and maintaining work permits or visas.

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  • Immigration Law: How to Become a Student with a Visa?
    Becoming a student with a visa in the United States usually starts at the home country of the foreign national. These steps start with contact through an immigration office, but some students may initiate the transfer to an F1 visa for study abroad through a university, and this could lead to educational opportunities in the states.
  • How Do I Extend my Student Visa?
    Foreign nationals that are in the United States through a student visa need to remain attentive to the paperwork and files necessary for visa extension. When the deadline for filing approaches or when an extension filed requires help, these foreign students must contact the appropriate offices to provide whatever additional details demanded.
  • How to Acquire an H1B Visa?
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  • How to Acquire Foreign Worker Certification
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Work Permits Law - US

  • E-1 Treaty Trader Work Visa

    The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa allows foreign nationals of eligible countries to enter the United States in order to engage in trade of a substantial nature between the United States and the applicant's country of nationality. The trade involved must be an international exchange of items between the United States and a treaty country.

  • E-2 Treaty Investor Work Visa

    The applicant is required to come to the United States to develop and manage the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. In addition to the investment in a business enterprise, the investor must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the operations of the enterprise in which he or she has made the investment. The applicant must have more than fifty (50%) percent ownership of the investment, unless the applicant is coming as an employee of the enterprise.

  • E-3 Work Visa for Australians

    The E-3 Visa is a new Work Visa category available only to Australian citizens. The E-3 Treaty Professional Visa is a temporary work visa, and is usually issued for 2 years at a time. United States legislation limits the E-3 Visa to citizens of Australia. The primary E-3 Work Visa applicant must be going to the United States for the purpose of working in a specialty occupation. The spouse and children of the main E-3 Visa applicant do not need to be Australian citizens. Spouses of E-3 Visa holders are entitled to E-3D (dependent) Visas and work authorization.

  • Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

    Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.

  • Foreign Labor Certification

    Hiring foreign workers for employment in the U.S. normally requires approval from several government agencies. First, employers must seek labor certification through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once the application is certified (approved), the employer must petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) for a visa. Approval by DOL does not guarantee a visa issuance. The Department of State (DOS) will issue an immigrant visa number to the foreign worker for U.S. entry. Applicants must also establish that they are admissible to the U.S. under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

  • Foreign Labor Certification Policies and Regulations

    The Department of Labor through the Employment and Training Administration, Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s national office and two processing centers, in cooperation with the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs), administer various Foreign Labor Certification programs. Administration of the programs is mandated by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and delineated by regulations in each program published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs). The regulations provide guidance on the processing of applications, periods of validity, and employer responsibilities, etc.

  • H-1B Work Visa for College Educated Professionals

    The H-1B Visa enables professionals in "Specialty Occupations" to make a valuable contribution to the American economy. A maximum of 65,000 H-1B Visas are issued every year. The H-1B Visa is issued for up to three years but may be extended. This provides a maximum stay of six years. The H1-B Visa holder can apply for a Green Card if a company wants to sponsor his or her application.

  • H-2B Work Visa for Skilled and Unskilled Workers

    The H-2B Work Visa was created to allow people to come to the United States temporarily, mainly for non-agricultural jobs, in which the United States workers are in short supply. Up to 66,000 H-2B Visas are issued every year.

  • H-3 Trainee Work Visa

    The United States issues H-3 Temporary Trainee Visas to foreign nationals who wish to come to the United States for on-the-job training provided by an American company. H-3 Trainee Visa holders are allowed to work only for the company that is providing the training. Under this Trainee Visa, employment should only play a minor role in the program, as the main objective should be the training, not the actual work. H-3 Temporary Trainee Visas are usually issued for the duration of the training program (up to 2 years). Extensions may be granted, but within the 2-year limit.

  • L-1 Intracompany Transfer Work Visa

    Individuals who are employed outside the United States as executives, managers or in a position that requires specialized knowledge may qualify for an L-1 Intracompany Transfer Work Visa. If the applicant is already in the United States, a change of status might be possible. A change of status enables the individual to obtain L-1 status without leaving the country and having to apply for the L-1 Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

  • Nurse Work Visa

    The Registered Nurse Work Visa classification has changed several times in the last 20 years. The H-1A Visa classification was enabled through the Nursing Relief Act of 1989 but was later terminated on September 1, 1995. Then beginning in 1999, the United States experienced a shortage of nurses and created the H-1C Nurse Visa Classification.

  • O-1 Extraordinary Ability Work Visa

    The O Visa classification consists of three visas: O-1, O-2 and O-3. The O-1 Visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities within science, arts, education, business, or athletics at the national or international level. Individuals with a record of extraordinary achievements within motion picture and/or television can also apply for the O-1 Visa as long as the work performed is in an area of extraordinary achievements. O-2 Visas are for supporting individuals of the O-1 Visa holder, and the relationship between the O-1 and O-2 Visa holder must have been long lasting. The spouse and unmarried children of O-1 Visa holders are entitled to O-3 Visas to come to the United States with the main O-1 Visa holder.

  • R-1 Religious Work Visa

    The United States government issues visas to individuals who are members of legitimate religious organizations so they can live and work legally in the United States for a specific period of time. These visas are called R-1 Religious Worker Visas. R-1 Visas are made available to members of the clergy and also to key employees of religious organizations.

  • TN NAFTA Work Visa

    TN NAFTA Work Visas are temporary work visas available only to citizens of Mexico and Canada. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a citizen of a NAFTA country may work in a professional occupation in another NAFTA country, as long as the applicant meets certain requirements.

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services - Working in the US

    The United States welcomes thousands of foreign workers in multiple occupations or employment categories every year. These include artists, researchers, cultural exchange participants, information technology specialists, religious workers, investors, scientists, athletes, nurses, agricultural workers and others. All foreign workers must obtain permission to work legally in the United States. Each employment category for admission has different requirements, conditions and authorized periods of stay. It is important that you adhere to the terms of your application or petition for admission and visa. Any violation can result in removal or denial of re-entry into the United States.

  • US Work Visa

    The work visa criteria can be confusing and there are many different visas available depending on the type of job. However, individuals that wish to work in the United States must first apply and be approved for a work visa. Work visas are non-immigrant visas, which mean that that they are only valid for a certain amount of time. However, most work visas can easily be renewed. Many US employers act as sponsors for their foreign employees so they can obtain a Green Card. Getting a U.S. work visa does not automatically lead to a Green Card or US citizenship.

Organizations Related to Work Permits Law


    The USA remains one of the most popular countries in the world as an immigration destination. Let us help you on the road to getting your USA visa. The US has over 60 types of non-immigrant (meaning non-permanent) US visas. offers you full US immigration services if you need help, as well as many USA visa guides to get you started if you want to handle your US immigration on your own. The US immigration process can be confusing and bureaucratic, but our experts are here to help.

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    There are 5 main ways an individual can obtain residency and work authorization in the United States: * Sponsorship by an Employer * Investment * Sponsorship by a close Family Member in the United States * The Diversity Visa Lottery Program * Asylum and Refugee Status can help you with the first 4 items from the above

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