How long can I work in the US with a temporary visa and nine other common questions about visas

(CNN Spanish) — Each year the United States admits millions of foreigners under various work visas, and at least in 2020More than 2 million were temporary workers and their families, according to figures from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But what are these visas and how to get these types of jobs?

Next, we solve some of the most common questions about temporary work visas in the US.

How can I get a temporary work visa for the United States?

Among the millions of temporary workers who are admitted to the US, visas to perform agricultural work (H-2A), those granted to temporary workers under the agreement of the North American Free Trade Agreement of Mexico and Canada ( TN), skilled workers (H-1B) and intra-company transfers, are the most common.

And while some steps in the application process may be similar, there are many requirements to meet that vary depending on the type of visa you want to apply for.

What is needed to apply for a temporary work visa?

In addition to having the necessary documents—such as establishing that the visit will be temporary, agreeing to depart at the end of the authorized stay, having a valid passport, and maintaining a residence abroad—the foreign worker must also be eligible to receive a visa. It sounds easy but in 2020, almost 1.7 million requests They were rejected as they were considered ineligible.

This considering that there are certain conditions and activities indicated by the US Government that can make a person ineligible to receive a visa. For example, overstaying a visa, committing certain crimes, or submitting false documents during the visa application.

But before applying for a visa to temporarily work in the US, the prospective employer in the US must obtain a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor on behalf of the applicant and file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) on behalf of the foreign worker, which must be approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Once the USCIS approves the petition (Form I-129), a visa can be applied for. The first step for the foreign worker is to complete the online application for the Form DS-160. This form is the same one used to apply for a US tourist visa.

After completing Form DS-160 and paying the indicated fee, the applicant must schedule an appointment at the US embassy or consulate.

It is important to note that in most cases—to temporarily work legally in the US—the prospective employer must file a nonimmigrant petition on behalf of the foreign national, according to USCIS.

However, there are few classifications that allow a foreign national to work in the US without an employer petitioning on their behalf. This is the case of the ratings E-1, E-2, E-3 and TN, as well as, in certain cases, the classifications of F-1 and M-1 student and J-1 exchange visitor.

What are some of the visas available to temporarily work in the US?

How much does a temporary work visa cost?

The visa application price varies according to your classification, but these are some visa application fees temporary worker:

  • NAFTA Professionals (TN): US$160
  • Temporary Workers/Temporary Employment or Trainee (H-1B, H-2A and H-2B): US$ 190
  • Persons with Extraordinary Ability (O-1): US$190
  • Transfers between Companies (L-1A and L-1B): US$ 190
  • Religious Worker (R): $190

However, this may add additional fees for processing an immigrant visa application, required medical exams or immunizations, fees to obtain necessary documentation, and expenses to go to the U.S. embassy or consulate for the interview. .

How long does it take to process a temporary work visa?

The administrative process may vary depending on the individual circumstances of each person.

In addition, the process may be affected depending on the availability of interview appointments for the applicant at the US embassy or consulate in their home country. For example, at the time of writing this note, the waiting time to schedule an appointment in Mexico City is approximately 44 days, 21 days for Bogotá and 10 days for Buenos Aires.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) offers a tool to review the current timeout for an interview.

How long can I work in the US on a temporary work visa?

The length of authorized stay varies depending on the visa category, for example:

NAFTA Professionals (TN): up to 3 years. However, there is no specific limit on the total period of time that a foreigner can be under the TN visa as long as he continues with his employment relationship.

Workers in a specialty profession (H-1B): up to three years. However, his stay can be extended, but usually not more than six years.

Temporary Workers/Temporary Employment (H-2): the maximum period of stay for both visas is 3 years. They are granted for a period of one year, although two extensions of up to one year each can be requested. The extension request must be submitted before its expiration date and the workers will be able to remain in the US during the extension process.

After a 3-year stay, H-2 visa recipients must leave the US for a continuous 3-month period before applying for readmission under the same type of visa.

Persons with Extraordinary Ability (O-1): The USCIS will determine the time necessary to complete the activity for which the beneficiary was required. However, “new petitions involving new events or an event that will be determined individually if it is materially different from the event included in the initial petition, could be approved for a maximum period of 3 years,” indicates the Service.

Transfers between Companies (L-1A and L-1B): employees entering the US to open a new office will be allowed an initial maximum stay of one year. The rest of the workers will be allowed an initial maximum stay of three years.

L-1A visa extensions are granted for up to two years, until the total maximum limit of seven years is reached.

Religious Worker (R): up to 30 months and subsequent extensions of up to a maximum of 30 months can be granted, so the total period of stay in the US cannot exceed 5 years (60 months).

Can I bring my family to the US if I get a temporary work visa?

Spouses and children of a temporary worker can apply directly to a US consulate or embassy for a visa to legally enter the US and remain in the country for the same period of stay as the employee. These are the specifications according to the type of visa:

Family members of workers (H-1B, H-2A and H-2B): Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for admission to the US using the H-4 visa classification. However, relatives will not be able to work under H-4 status.

Relatives of workers (TN): spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for admission to the US using the TD visa classification. However, relatives will not be able to work under TD status, but they are allowed to study.

Relatives of workers (O-1): spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for admission to the US using the O-3 visa classification. However, relatives will not be able to work under O-3 status, but they are allowed to study.

Family members of workers (L-1A and L-1B): spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for admission to the US using the L-2 visa classification. Family members under this classification will be able to work in the US, according to USCIS.

How much does a foreign-born worker earn in the US?

On average, the weekly earnings of foreign-born workers — a definition that includes legally admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants — was $898 in 2021, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among men, the median weekly earnings of the foreign-born were $957, while the median weekly earnings of foreign-born women were $804.

Among major racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic foreign-born full-time salaried workers earned 84.3% more than their native-born counterparts in 2021.

How to find a temporary job (H-2A/H-2B) in the US?

On the DOL website you can see the temporary jobs available in the US, as well as its description, duration, location, pay and contact. However, the website is only available in English.

Once there is a job offer from the employer, prospective workers outside the US must apply for an H-2A or H-2B visa (after USCIS approves their Form I-129) with the Department of State at a US embassy or consulate. Finally, they must apply for admission to the US at a US port of entry.

These are the details about how to find and apply for a temporary job in the H-2 visa category.

How to work in the US as a refugee or asylee?

According to figures According to DHS, in 2020 the country admitted a total of 11,840 people under refugee status and granted asylum to 31,429 people. However, these are two different processes for both the application and the work authorization.

Refugee: In order for a person to receive asylum or refugee status, they must comply with the refugee definition established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA, for its acronym in English), which indicates that it qualifies as a refugee any person “who cannot or does not want to return [a su país de origen] and is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

A person seeking refugee status must apply from outside the US and once admitted can work immediately upon arrival in the country.

Asylee: A person may seek asylum in the US when they are persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a certain social or political group.

The person seeking asylum status can apply from the US or upon arrival at a port of entry, be it a border crossing, airport or seaport.

Asylees are protected from being returned to their country of origin and, once granted asylum, can begin work immediately. However, a person with a pending application cannot work immediately, unless the applicant is eligible, according to the requirements indicated by the USCIS.

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