Services > Temporary Visas > Work or Business

Here is a list of work or business related visas with descriptions and subcategories:

These visas are for treaty traders (E-1) or treaty investors (E-2) and are in a special category to which some of the traditional nonimmigrant visa rules are inapplicable. These types of visas allow a foreigner to remain in the USA for an indefinite period of time under a reciprocal treaty of commerce and navigation between the USA and the country of nationality. The trader must be engaged in “substantial trade” between the United States and her/his home country and be a manager or director or have specific knowledge of the business operations. The treaty investor (E-2) must be developing or directing an enterprise in which he/she has invested a substantial amount capital or coming to work for such an enterprise as manager, director or have specific knowledge of the business operations.

H-1B.  This visa classification allows foreigners who will engage in “specialty occupations,” or are fashion models of distinguished merit and ability, or foreigners providing service related to the Department of Defense, to come to the United States to engage in work. A foreigner under this visa may be admitted for a period of up to three years and extension generally cannot go beyond a total of six years except under certain circumstances. Some of the exceptions to the six-year limit are where the H-1B is the beneficiary of an immigrant labor certification application or employment-based immigrant petition that has been pending for more than 365 days prior to the end of the six years, or if he/she is the beneficiary of such a petition and is unable to obtain permanent residency due to quota restrictions. The foreigner is then eligible for extensions in one-year increments until the labor certification application or immigrant petition is decided, or a final decision is made on the foreigner’s application for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa.

H-2A This temporary agricultural visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. “Temporary or seasonal nature”  means employment performed at certain seasons of the year, usually in relation to the production and/or harvesting of a crop, or for a limited time period of less than one year when an employer can show that the need for the foreign workers is truly temporary.

H-3. This visa is for foreigners who are receiving instruction or training in any field of endeavor, such as agriculture, commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation, or the professions, as well as training in a purely industrial establishment, with the exception of graduate medical training or education that falls within the J visa. This visa is only available where the equivalent training is not available in the home country, the foreign national will help the foreign national pursue a career outside of the United States. Persons admitted under this status may not remain for more than two years, and may not change or extend their stay, or be readmitted under an H or L visa until they have been outside of the United States for at least six months.

This visa is available to foreigners who are representatives of foreign media through a reciprocal arrangement between the United States and the applicant’s home country allowing U.S. journalists to be admitted under similar conditions. Foreigners who are working for foreign press, radio, film, or other information media can enter under this category as long as they are employed with foreign media including those working in the information, documentary, or educational programming fields. This visa may also be granted to representatives from independent production companies who hold a credential issued by a professional journalism association. Please note, however, that those who are working in entertainment programming or commercial film may not enter under this visa status.

This visa is for intracompany transferees (multinational corporate executives and managers, or persons with specialized knowledge). In order to qualify for this visa, the foreigner must have been employed abroad by the parent, branch, or subsidiary corporation of the US company continuously for one of the prior three years. This type of visa does not preclude the foreigner from seeking lawful permanent residence while pursuing or being present in the United States under this status. This visa has no annual quota, and the visa-holder may remain in the United States for a period of five to seven years.  The spouse and children of the L-1 visa-holder are admitted as L-2s, and they are permitted to work.

The O-1 visa category is for foreigners of extraordinary ability in the science, art, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and who are coming temporarily to the U.S. to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

While there is no foreign residence requirement, the person must have an intent to remain in the USA temporarily. Extraordinary ability may be established either by a major international award or by at least three of the following criteria: (1) a national or international award; (2) membership in an organization in the field for which classification is sought requiring outstanding achievement; (3) published material about the person’s work in professional or major trade publications; (4) having been called on to judge the work of others in the particular field; (5) original work of major significance in the field; (6) authorship and publication of scholarly work in the field;
(7) evidence that the person has been in a critical or essential employment capacity with an organization of distinguished reputation; or (8) evidence that the person has or will command a high salary in the field.

O-1A: This visa is for foreigners who, through sustained national or international acclaim, have demonstrated extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

O-1B: This visa is for foreigners in the motion picture or TV production business, who have a record of extraordinary achievement.

O-2: This visa is for persons who are accompanying and assisting the O-1 artist or athlete in the furtherance of his or her performance (the skills that are to be utilized in assisting must not be of a general nature).

O-3: This visa is for the spouse and children of the O-1/O2 visa-holder.

P-1A: This visa is for athletes who are themselves internationally recognized, or are part of a group that has achieved this recognition.

P-1B: This visa is for a foreigner who performs with, or is an integral part of, an entertainment group that has been internationally recognized for a sustained period as being outstanding entertainers. The performer seeking admission in the category must have had a substantial relation with the group for at least one year. A group of performers nationally recognized” for a sustained and substantial period”  may obtain a waiver of the international recognition and one-year requirements under certain circumstances. The waiver may be obtained for a quarter of the performers or entertainers in the group if they are replacing essential members of the group due to illness or other special circumstances.

P-2: This visa is for a foreigner performing as part of a group, or individually, or as an integral part of the performance, and is entering temporarily and solely to perform under a reciprocal exchange program.

P-3: This visa is for a foreigner who is entering as part of a “culturally unique program” (including coaching); the program may be commercial or non-commercial and need not be sponsored by an educational, cultural, or government agency.

 This visa is for foreigners participating in an international cultural exchange program approved for the purpose of providing employment, practical training, and the sharing of history, culture, and traditions of the entrant’s country of nationality. The program must take place in a school, museum, business, or other similar establishment. The cultural component must be designed to exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, or traditions of the person’s country, and the program must be the vehicle to achieve the cultural objective. Q visas are limited to 15 months. The foreigner must have a foreign residence and be employed under the same wages and conditions as U.S. workers. Someone who already has been here for 15 months will not be readmitted until he or she has been physically outside the United States for at least one year.

Q-2. This is a special visa for persons 35 or younger from Northern Ireland and certain counties of Ireland and is limited to 4,000 visas per year. The program is for culture and training, and provides practical training, employment, and experience, and conflict resolution, participants in the program may not stay in the United States for more than three years.

 This visa is for ministers and persons working in a professional capacity for a religious organization. Religious occupations include activities that relate to religious functions, such as liturgical workers, cantors, and religious broadcasters. In order to qualify for the visa, the person must be a member of a religious denomination (for a minimum of two years before the application filing) that has a bona fide nonprofit religious status in the United States. The initial period of admission is usually three years, and can be extended for an additional two years.

R-2 Visas. This visa is for the spouse and children of the R visa holder.

The visa is for nationals of Canada or Mexico admitted under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), who seek temporary entry as a business person to engage in business activities at a professional level.  If the applicant for this visa is a professional, the visa is similar to the H-1B, but without a defined limit on the length of time that the person may remain in the United States. The recipient of this visa will have to show that he/she will remain for a “temporary period,” which is defined as a period with a “reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.  A self-employed person may not be admitted as a TN. Please note that Mexican are treated differently from Canadians under this visa.  The Canadian needs only show that he or she is a “professional” coming for work in his or her field based on a job offer, and may submit a request for admission at the border. They must present proof of Canadian citizenship, description of the purpose for the entry, and evidence that they will be engaged in one of the occupations or professions listed in Schedule 1 of NAFTA or will perform appropriate B-1 activities. When traveling from Canada, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa, or at a land border port of entry. On the other hand, however, the Mexican applicant, must present the application before a U.S. Consul.  Business visitors who are citizens of Mexico must obtain a B-1/B-2 laser via/border crossing card at a U.S. consulate abroad prior to entry to the United States. To obtain a visa, the applicant must present a complete form DS-156, and if applicable, DS-157, the standard nonimmigrant visa application, evidence of Mexican citizenship and residence, passport or border-crossing card, and fingerprints. Only after a citizen of Mexico obtains a B-1/B-2 visa may he/she apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry.