When a person wants to live and work in the United States, there are some legal hurdles to clear first. To be eligible for legal work status without a green card, they must apply for an employment-based visa and have it approved.

So, what does this involve? What are employment-based visas (also known as work visas)?

What Are Work Visas?

Most people who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents are only permitted to visit the country on tourist visas. These allow for short-term visits to sightsee and visit friends or family, but tourists are not allowed to work during their trips.

Employment-based visas, on the other hand, are issued to allow people with special skills to work in the United States without needing to be permanent residents. Although preference typically goes to U.S. citizens when an employer is hiring, it is possible for a foreigner to get a job and a work visa, allowing them to remain in the country much longer and earn a salary.

How Do Employment-Based Visas Work?

There are several different types of employment-based visas. Some work visas are intended for people who do not want to immigrate to the United States but need to live and work in the country for a specific amount of time. Other work visas are granted to people who are ultimately pursuing citizenship.

In general, a job offer is needed to get a work visa. Employers must petition on behalf of visa candidates, explaining why a foreign worker is being favored over potential local applicants. If the visa is granted, the worker can bring their immediate family and live in the United States according to the terms of their visa.

Are Work Visas Temporary?

Different types of work visas have different terms. Some are temporary and some are intended to be a path for people who want to stay in the United States long-term.

People who need to work in the U.S. on a specific project for their employer can apply for a temporary work visa that is valid for up to six or seven years, with extensions. Those who want to immigrate to the United States and become permanent residents can get a work visa that will allow them to continue living in the United States, even if they are no longer employed.

Who Can Qualify for an Employment-Based Visa?

Some types of work visas are very limited, with the government issuing a fixed number each year. Preference is given to people with skills that are in high demand or are unique and people with advanced degrees or training.

If you would like to pursue an employment-based visa so you can work in the United States, call our Hackensack, New Jersey immigration law firm at (201) 883-9800. Our experienced attorney can help you understand your work visa options and advise you on how to proceed.