Work Visa

U.S. visa for temporary stay

There are several visa options available for working in the United States. Each work visa for the U.S. includes individual entry requirements, application procedures and costs. Which U.S. visa applies to the specific case and above all appears to be appropriate should be carefully assessed. Factors such as qualification, nationality, duration of the planned stay and company affiliation play a decisive role in determining which category works best for you and your employees. Please contact us for a non-binding visa consultation.

 

What is a work visa for the USA?

Basic information about the U.S. Work Visa

There is no general work visa for the United States of America. However, companies or their foreign employees who wish to work in the United States can obtain a variety of U.S. work visas.

Work visas for the United States are intended for a temporary work stay. They therefore only entitle the holder to work in the United States for a limited period of time. Temporary employment includes, for example, business trips or assignments to the USA. If you want to live and work in the United States of America permanently, you must apply for an immigrant visa (Green Card).

Bild von einem Work Visa für die USA

A U.S. work visa is mandatory for any temporary employment

However, it is not always easy to decide which visa to apply for during business trips. Please check our information about the B-1 visa and visa-free entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program / ESTA before you start your business trip.
If you want to work as an intern, au pair, etc. or if you are looking for a vacation job, a visa is also required. However, a work visa is usually not applicable. You can find out which visa options are available instead in our Internship / Study section.

However, all U.S. work visas have a few points in common:

Common features of U.S. work visas
The U.S. company applies for the visa for the respective employee
The U.S. company must exist
The work visa is limited in time
There must be a regular employment relationship
(no freelancers, consultants, temporary workers)
The activity must be tied to the U.S. employer


There are therefore two important principles that you should always keep in mind when you or your employees want to work in the United States:

  1. No U.S. work visa without a job offer
    In order to obtain a work visa, there must be a concrete job offer. The reason is, that it is not the future employee who applies for the visa, but always the U.S. company as the official applicant (= petitioner) for the foreign employee (= beneficiary).
    Anyone who dreams of working in the U.S. must therefore first of all apply for a job in the United States. Once you have found an employer in the U.S., he will submit a petition for a work permit for the United States on your behalf. Then the actual visa application is submitted.
    Exceptions: If you are already working in the United States of America, you can, under certain circumstances, adjust the status of a work visa. Another possibility is the Green Card – the unlimited residence and work permit for the United States.
  2. Never work in the U.S. without a work visa
    Often we receive inquiries from which duration of stay in the U.S. a work visa is required. The answer is: A U.S. work visa is required from the first day! No matter how short the period of time or work assignment may be, it is always only legally possible to take up work if an appropriate work visa is granted in the first place.

With us to your work visa

We check which work visa category is suitable and help you to obtain the appropriate work permit. Let our visa consultants advise you – without obligation.

Contact us now

 

As mentioned earlier, there are a large number of U.S. work visas. The following points differ depending on the type of work visa:

  1. Requirements
  2. Application procedures
  3. Costs
  4. Application period

 

Requirements

The requirements that must be met for a U.S. work visa should not be underestimated. Certain requirements are attached to both the company and the respective employee. Below is an overview of the most important factors:

Company:

  • Legal form of the U.S. company
  • Presence of a U.S. site
  • Company size
  • Company constellation
  • Ownership
  • Corporate strategy

Employees:

  • Nationality
  • Educational attainment
  • Purpose of stay
  • Length of stay
  • Length of service
  • Qualification
  • Marital status
  • Criminal record

In addition, there are other very specific requirements depending on the visa category.

Application

Traditionally, the U.S. employer needs to submit a petition to the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services USCIS in the first place. In order to get a work visa, the form I-129 is used before applying at the U.S. consulate. If the petition is successful, the aaproval notice I-797 from the USCIS must be presented in the next step to start the consular processing. The work visa application is filed at the responsible U.S. consulate, where the employee must complete a personal visa interview. Find out more about how to apply for a U.S. visa.

Please note that the application for a work visa is often particularly complex and time-consuming. Furthermore, there are considerable differences in the application process depending on the category. Companies and their employees should therefore carefully consider which options are available. Simplified application procedures can sometimes be used to save not only money but also time.

As a specialised service provider, we assist corporate clients in applying for work visas on a daily basis. If you would also like to get involved in the USA, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the various work visas in an initial interview. Which work visa category we can recommend depends on the following factors:

  • We clarify which visa the respective employee needs.
  • We check whether your company meets the requirements for the visa category.
  • We develop a company-specific overall strategy.
  • We coordinate an individual service package with you.

Arrange a non-binding conversation.
Contact us now!

Costs

The application fees for U.S. work visas vary widely. The more application steps required and the more U.S. authorities are involved, the more expensive the visa application will be. We provide a comprehensive overview of visa costs elsewhere.

Application period

Depending on the application process, sometimes more and sometimes less U.S. authorities are involved. In addition to the U.S. consulate, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) are also responsible for certain categories.

While you can expect processing times of several weeks for simplified application procedures, the regular application for work visas via the USCIS and the U.S. consulate takes several months. For this reason, it is advisable to deal with the work visa issue as early as possible.

Bild von einem ausländischen Arbeitnehmer, der ein Arbeitsvisum für die USA hat

There are different ways to work in the United States

Important U.S. work visa categories

There are a variety of visas that include a temporary work permit for the United States of America. Below we present the most important work visas in alphabetical order.

Visa Purpose of stay
C-1/D Visa (Combined Transit and Crewman)

For crew members of airlines or shipping companies who have to enter the United States for work

E-Registration / Visa (Treaty Trader / Treaty Investor) Simplified application procedure for e-registered US branches based on trade or investment
E-1 Visa (Treaty Trader) For companies and their managers / executives / specialists / supervisors who have significant trade (goods / services) with the USA
E-2 Visa (Treaty Investor) For companies (owners and managers/executives/specialists/supervisors) who invest or have invested considerable capital in the US economy
H-1B visa (Specialty Occupation Workers) For highly qualified workers and persons with an academic degree or equivalent
I-Visa (Foreign News Media) For working visits of journalists / representatives of foreign media companies travelling to the USA on business
L-1 Visa (Intracompany Transferee) For internal company assignments to the USA of senior executives / managers / skilled personnel of all nationalities
L-1 Blanket Registration / Visa Simplified application procedure for all company locations listed in the L-Blanket worldwide
O-1 Visa (Extraordinary Ability) For people with exceptional abilities in the fields of science, art, education, business, sports or media
TN Visa (Treaty NAFTA) For working stays of Canadian and Mexican nationals


While the table gives a first overview of the different categories of work visas, we would like to go into the visa types in more detail below.

C-1/D visa

The C-1/D visa is officially called Combined Transit and Crewman Visa and is intended for a very special target group. It is usually issued for crew members such as pilots, flight attendants, ship and service personnel.

E-Registration / E-Visa

The E-Visa is a work visa category, which entitles the holder to take up full employment, regardless of whether the employee will undertake several business trips or a long-term assignment in the United States. In order to use this popular category, there must be a valid e-registration of the U.S. company or group of companies at the relevant U.S. consulate. Companies that have an e-registration with the responsible U.S. consulate can send or deploy employees to the United States on this basis in a simplified manner.

E-1 Visa

The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa is known officially as Trade Visa. The E-1 work visa is not only interesting for wholesale companies, but also smaller companies can qualify for this category. We apply for the E-1 visa very often on behalf of our customers.

E-2 Visa

You may be familiar with the E-2 Treaty Investor visa. Our visa consultants apply for the E-2 visa very frequently, as the E-2 category is a very good option for entrepreneurs or companies that have invested or are investing significant capital in the U.S. economy. Usually, the investment is made in the form of a new company, by opening a U.S. branch office, or by purchasing a company in the United Stated of America.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is also a temporary work visa,. It is suitable for highly qualified workers, so-called specialty occupation workers. In addition to a concrete U.S. job offer, the future foreign employee must be able to present an academic degree. But please note: H-1B visas are subject to an annual quota system and are unfortunately quickly become "unavailable".

I-Visa

The I-journalist visa is suitable for employees in the field, press, media or broadcasting. The basic prerequisite is that the purpose of the stay is to report on events in the United States in a documentary manner.

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa is another classic work visa, which is used for internal employee transfers or in the context of work assignments to the United States. The requirements for the L-1 category are very high and only managers, executives (L-1A), or specialists (L-1B) can apply for it.

L-1 Blanket Registration / Visa

L-1 visas can be applied for in a simplified procedure if a so-called L-Blanket registration is existing. On the basis of the L-Blanket Registration of the group of companies, all company locations listed in the "Blanket" can use a simplified application procedure for employees worldwide.

O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa is reserved exclusively for particularly talented people. Extraordinary Ability refers to outstanding skills in the fields of science, art, education, business, sports, or media. The requirements for this visa category are extremely high and a verification of the applicant's qualification by a U.S. professional association is mandatory.

TN visa

TN visas are special work visas that can only be applied for by Canadian or Mexican citizens. The respective applicant must act as a so-called NAFTA Professional. TN status can be obtained by accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists and teachers.

ATTENTION: All U.S. consulates worldwide have been authorized, effective immediately, to waive the otherwise required in-person interviews with applicants for employment-based visas, provided they meet certain requirements. This waiver applies specifically to temporary work visa applicants in categories H-1, H-3, H-4, L. O, P, and Q. Learn more here. Learn more here

Our service for work visa applications

We will advise you without obligation which visa category is appropriate and are happy to take over the complete handling for you or your company.

  1. First contact: We determine, which visa or visa types are suitable in your case.
  2. Worldwide support: We support you, whether you are located in Germany or elsewhere.
  3. Your oder: We will send all necessary documents and checklists to your personnel department and the respective employees.
  4. Visa processing: We take over the examination, correction and compilation of the application documents.
  5. Visa interview preparation: We will pay the visa application fee for you and arrange the visa interview date. In addition, each applicant is prepared by telephone for the formalities and procedures at the U.S. consulate.
  6. Visa issuance: We check your visa for correctness and prepare your employees for entry into the United States by telephone.

Learn more about the services of our US Visa Service.

Frequently Asked Questions about U.S. work visas

When do I need a work visa?

You need a work visa whenever you want to work in the United States on a temporary basis. As described, there are different work visas for the USA. These so-called U.S. nonimmigrant visas differ, for example, in the type of work the applicant does, the length of stay and the type of visa application process. Please note that most U.S. work visas are complex and time-consuming procedures. Of course, we will be happy to advise you on the selection of the appropriate visa category and take care of the complete application process for you or your employees. Contact us today.

What does it mean that the U.S. company is the official visa applicant?

A U.S. work visa is always tied to a specific U.S. company. In turn this means that you must have a specific employer in the United States before you can apply for a work visa.

The application process begins with the U.S. company that wants to hire you. The U.S. employer submits the petition either to the USCIS or to the responsible U.S. consulate. Since the application for a temporary work permit is made by the company for a future foreign employee, the U.S. employer is therefore the so-called petitioner, which means the official applicant. The future employee is the entitled person and thus the so-called beneficiary.

What happens with the visa after the end of the work relations?

Many companies wonder what happens to the company-bound work visa when the visa holder no longer works for the U.S. employer.

In the event that the employment contract is terminated, the U.S. work visa automatically loses its validity. The derived visas of any family members who may have travelled with the employee also lose their validity upon termination of the work relations, as these are linked to the visa of the main visa applicant.

This means that the former visa holder is no longer allowed to enter the country with the work visa after termination of the employment relationship. Even if the work visa is theoretically still valid for a certain period of time, the visa may no longer be used to enter the United States. If the visa holder concerned wishes to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business purposes in the future, he / she must reapply for an ESTA or a corresponding visa, depending on the type of activities carried out on site and the duration of such activities.

Tip: In order to avoid discrepancies or problems with later entries, it is advisable to inform the U.S. consulate about the new work situation. For this purpose, it is sufficient if the responsible company representative (e.g. HR manager, supervisor, board of directors) sends an e-mail to the responsible consulate with the request to invalidate the visa of the former employee. If possible, a copy of the visa should also be attached. The consulate will then put a note in the system so that the CBP officers at the U.S. border are also informed.
In some cases, the visa holder will even be contacted directly by the U.S. consulate in order to send its passport with the work visa for the purpose of invalidation. In other cases, the visa will simply be invalidated by the CBP officer at the boder the next time he or she enters the United States.

Our recommendation: By sending a short message to the responsible U.S. consulate, companies can protect themselves and above all be sure that entry with the previously valid work visa is no longer possible. Do not take any risks and prevent possible abuse with company-bound visas.