Temporary Work Visas

Skilled workers may be employed on a temporary or permanent basis. The temporary visa applicant may be admitted for employment in one of several visa categories. Currently, the most common is the H-1B visa issued for professional workers and for those performing work in a specialty occupation.


H-1B Visa: Professionals and Specialty Occupations

Many foreign workers in the engineering, computer and electronics industries are in the U.S. on H-1B visas. A Bachelor’s degree or twelve years experience in the profession is required. A combination of education and experience is also acceptable, using a formula of three years work experience as an equivalent to one year of college. The H-1B workers can live and work in the U.S. for up to six consecutive years and then they must return to their come country for at least one year. Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for the H-1B visa include payment of the prevailing way and posting notice at the job site where foreign workers are to be employed. The employer also agrees to pay the worker’s transportation home, should the employer terminate the worker prior to the expiration of the visa. Currently there are 65,000 H-1B visas available per year for private for profit employers. There is no limit for government, research entities and institutions of higher learning.


L Visa: Intra company Transfers for Managers and Workers with Specialized Knowledge

The preferable L Visa can be used in cases where a U.S. company has a foreign parent, subsidiary or affiliated company. In this category, foreign workers at the management level or who have specialized knowledge can come and work for the U.S. company for up to six years. The U.S. company and its foreign affiliate must document common ownership. The advantage of the L-1 visa is that the DOL is not involved in the application process. The L-1 visa often serves as a basis for later obtaining permanent residence as an international manager.


J Visa: Cultural/Educational Exchange

This temporary “cultural exchange” visa is administered by both the U.S. Department of State and USCIS. Its categories include au pairs, trainees, students, instructors and research scholars. The J visa is obtained through State Department sanctioned agencies such as governmental, private profit and non-profit entities. The J visa temporary stay ranges for one year to six years depending upon the category. Most J visa holders must return to their home country for two years following their period of stay in the U.S.


Other Temporary Visas

Temporary work visas are also available for certain religious workers (R-visas), renowned athletes, artists and entertainers (O and P visas) and fashion models (H visas). Evidence of experience and high achievement must be submitted with these visa petitions.

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This information is intended to answer questions of general interest for people in California only. It should not be construed as legal advice. For specific advice, please consult your attorney.