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Explaining Temporary Work Visas (EB, H1-B, H2-B, I and L) : US Visas
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US Visas

Explaining Temporary Work Visas (EB, H1-B, H2-B, I and L)

There are several types of US temporary work visas, amongst them are the:
  • EB for people of extraordinary ability.
  • H-1B for people in specialist fields.
  • H-2B for temporary non-agricultural workers.
  • I for members of foreign media and press.
  • L which covers the intra-company transfer of personnel from a foreign-based office to a US-based one.
With the exception of the I media visa, all temporary work visas require sponsorship through a US business, employer, agency, etc. The US sponsor will file a petition with the USCIS and, once approved, the petitioner (applicant) can then proceed with application for the appropriate visa.

EB Visa, Extraordinary Ability

The EB work visa is for foreign nationals who wish to work in the US and can show
1) extraordinary ability in science, art, education, business, or athletics,
2) outstanding ability in research or teaching (professors), or
3) exceptional knowledge and ability as a multinational executive or manager.
  1. People of Extraordinary Ability. In order to meet the requirements for this classification, the individual must be able to demonstrate sustained recognition through extensive documentation. This can include major internationally recognized awards, memberships in high-level associations, published materials which recognize excellence, evidence of outstanding contribution within the individual’s field, evidence of critical or commercial success, and/or publication or showcasing of the individual’s work.
  2. Outstanding Professors and Researchers. The professor or researcher must have a minimum of three years’ experience in their field and be entering the US in a comparable tenure or tenure track at a higher-learning or other recognized institution. If the individual is employed in the private sector, the hiring firm must show documented accomplishment as well as proof that they have at least three additional employees engaged in full-time research activities.
  3. Exceptional Multinational Executives and Managers. The requirements for this classification are similar to that of the L-1. The individual must have been
    1) continuously employed outside of the US for at least one year out of the past three and
    2) show their purpose for entering the US to be continued service to the same company at the same executive or managerial level.
While a labor certification is not required for the EB class visa, the prospective employer is required to provide a written job offer and file a petition with the USCIS.

H-1B Visa, Specialty Occupations

The H-1B allows individuals who are in a specialist field or hold a specialty occupation to come to the US and receive theoretical and practical application experience in order to complete a specific course of higher-education learning. H-1B also covers individuals who wish to come to the US to engage in government-to-government research and development or participate in projects administered by the Department of Defense.

H-2B Visa, Temporary Non-Agricultural Labor

H-2B is a temporary labor visa which allows individuals to come to work in a non-agricultural field or position (temporary agricultural workers must apply for an H-2A). Application must be sponsored by a US employer and proof must be made as to why the position(s) cannot be filled by US workers.

I Visa, Foreign Media

The I work visa is for representatives of foreign media traveling to the US on assignment. Media representatives are not allowed entry under the B-1 or Visa Waiver Programs. To determine whether the I visa is appropriate, you must consider your purpose for visiting. Any assignment which includes gathering and reporting information that is informative in content will, more than likely, be covered. This includes journalism efforts, reporting sports events, etc. Projects which involve contrived or staged events, such as reality television, quiz shows, documentaries with characterized roles, movies, etc. are not considered informational and therefore will require the appropriate employment-based visa.

The length of stay for an I class visa is determined by the administering US Consulate or Embassy, based upon the project or assignment. Extensions can be issued for 12-months at a time, with no limit on the number of extensions. Depending upon activity, an I visa holder may eventually become eligible to apply for a green card.

The I foreign media visa can be obtained directly from a US Embassy or Consulate. Unlike other work visas, the I visa does not require a filed petition.

L Visa, Intra-Company Transfers

The L class visa applies to intra-company transfers between a foreign country and its US affiliate, branch, subsidiary, or parent company. The individual transferring must have been employed by the company abroad for at least one year within the past three years and have specialized knowledge that cannot easily be filled by a US citizen. There are two types of employees who are eligible for L-1 application:
  1. Managers and Executives—the individual’s role and responsibilities must fall within the strict definition of a management or executive role, so a detailed description of responsibilities and duties must be included with the application.
  2. Specialized Staff—these are individuals with a specialized knowledge base concerning company products and services, systems, research, management, procedures, or proprietary techniques.
An L class visa is applicable for an initial three years with extensions available based upon the individual’s role within the company. Managers and executives are allowed a maximum of seven years, while specialized staff is given a maximum of five. Once this time is up, the individual must leave the US and remain employed within the company in one of their foreign locations for the minimum of a year before being allowed to reapply for L (or H) status.

End Note

Most US work visas require a US-sponsoring business or employer to submit a petition to the USCIS describing amongst other things, intent, proof of need, and valid reasons why the role cannot be filled by a US citizen. The petition process is stringent and generally requires extensive supporting documentation. Therefore, it is important that you begin the process as early as possible.


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Explaining Temporary Work Visas (EB, H1-B, H2-B, I and L) : US Visas