Indian citizens can apply for a US work visa as a non-immigrant after receiving an approval from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application for most types of non-immigrant US work visas requires the employer to file a petition to the USCIS and only the approved petitions qualify for the application process. The visa application must be submitted along with the petition approval letter, completed application form, and specified documents. The US work visas are available under various categories based on the nature of work.
In addition to a work visa, the non-immigrant category also includes the visa for tourist, business, student, and speciality workers.
Types of US Work Visas for Indians
There are many types of US work visas, however, a foreign worker is allowed to apply for a specific type of visa based on the country he/she is representing. The availability of various types of US work visa differs from one country to another and subject to the immigration policy of the US. The following types of non-immigrant US work visas are available to the Indian applicants:
|Visa Categories||Application Requirements|
|H-1B (Workers in Specialty Occupation)||Applicants must have a Master/Higher Degree and earn a minimum of $60,000 annually to qualify for the H-1B visa application.|
|H-2B (Skilled and unskilled workers)||The employer must obtain a Department of Labor certification before the visa application can be initiated. H-2B visas are issued for seasonal/temporary jobs which allow employers to hire skilled or unskilled workers to fulfil the shortage of workers in the US.|
|H-3 (Trainee)||Applicants visiting the US to receive training from an employer must submit the application form along with the completed Form DS-160, receipt number from USCIS, letter of employment, etc.|
|H-4 (Dependents)||The dependants of the H visa (H-1B, H-2B, and H-3) holder can apply for the H-4 visa to visit the US to accompany the principal H visa holder. H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the US.|
|L-1 (Intra-company transferees)||Applicants who are at the managerial or executive level of an international company and being transferred to the US on a temporary basis are eligible to apply for the L-1 visa. The applicants must have an approved petition from USCIS before starting the L-1 application.|
|L-2 (Dependents)||The dependants of the L-1 visa holder can apply for the L-2 visa to visit the US to accompany the principal L-1 visa holder. Currently, L-2 visa holders are allowed to apply for a work permit in the US.|
|O (Extraordinary Ability)||Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics or extraordinary achievement in television production/motion picture are allowed to apply for the O work visa.|
|P (Artists/entertainers)||In order to visit the US to perform as athletes, entertainers, artists, and support personnel, the visitor must apply for P work visa.|
|Q (Cultural exchange)||The Q work visa is required for those individuals who are entering the US to be a part of an international cultural exchange program and for imparting knowledge related to his/her own native country’s culture, tradition, and history. The visitor may also apply for this visa to provide training or employment at an international cultural exchange program.|
Prerequisites for US Work Visa Applications
The application for non-immigrant visa categories requires the applicant’s existing/potential employer to obtain either the Department of Labor certification(Form I-129), USCIS Notice of Approval/Action (Form I-797) or both the documents before starting the specific visa application. Employers can use the official website of USCIS - https://www.uscis.gov/e-verify to determine the eligibility criteria of their foreign workers.
The approval of petition or possession of a US visa doesn’t guarantee entry into the US. The US immigration policy regulated through authorised departments such as US Customs and Border Protection, USCIS, etc. may direct the cancellation of a visa or visa application due to many factors.
US Work Visa Application Process
The application process for a US work visa differs based on the location of the US Embassy/Consulate. It is essential to read and understand the guidelines and instructions provided by the specific US Embassy/Consulate before starting the application. The following are few of the common steps to apply for a work visa:
- Form DS-160 (Non-immigrant Visa Application) - Applicants are required to fill the Form DS-160 online and obtain the photocopy of the confirmation page after the submission. The confirmation page along with the applicant’s recent photograph (as per guidelines and specification) must be carried to the visa interview.
- Visa Fee - Only after the payment of $190 as the non-immigrant visa fee, applicants are provided with an option to schedule an interview for document submission.
- Visa Application Centre (VAC) - Prior to visiting the US Embassy/Consulate, applicants are required to visit one of the VACs to provide fingerprint scan. The VAC will also capture the applicant’s photograph.
- Visa Interview - Applicants must schedule an appointment for their visa interview to submit their application along with the required documents. Most applicants who are under 13 years of age and over 80 years of age are not required not required to appear for the visa interview.
Required Documents for Application
The following documents are required for the application of a US work visa:
- Passport - The passport should have at least six months of validity beyond the intended date of return from the US. The passport should have blank pages to allow immigration stamping.
- Form DS-160 - The confirmation page of Form DS-160 (Non-immigrant Visa Application) is required for most types of US visa applications.
- Receipt of Visa Fee Payment - While paying the visa fee, applicants are provided with an acknowledgement receipt which must be printed and carried along with the other documents.
- Receipt Number from USCIS - If the specific visa category requires the applicant’s employer to obtain an approval for their petition, the approval from USCIS will carry a Receipt Number which needs to be submitted along with the other documents.
- Other Documents - The applicant may require submitting additional/supporting documents of employment (letter of appointment, employment letter, payslip, etc.), education (marks card, graduation certificate, course completion certificate, etc.) or other documents based on the specific category of the visa.
Once the visa application is reviewed and approved, the applicant will receive the visa along with his/her original passport which was submitted during the application. If you are visiting the US on a work visa, you should learn about your rights and protection as a non-immigrant in the US. The US Department of State’s official website - https://travel.state.gov provides useful information for all types of US visas include the extension of visa, changing immigration status, etc.