Quick Guide to U.S. Temporary Employment Visas

Posted on Mar 08, 2016 | Tags: usa employment visas, usa visas

Crash Course Guide to Temporary US Employment Visas

Foreign citizens wishing to enter the U.S are required to obtain a travel visa, either an immigrant visa for permanent stay or non-immigrant visa for temporary stay. Temporary employment visas are for people who wish to enter the U.S. for the employment reasons lasting for a certain period of time, and they are not considered indefinite or permanent. Each visa requires a petition of employment from the employer to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition has to be approved first before applying for a temporary employment visa.

Temporary Employment Visa Categories

H-1B: Persons in Specialty Occupation - This is for work in specialized occupations. Requires a higher degree or the equivalent.

H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement Professional for Singapore, Chile - For work in specialized occupations. Requires applicants to have a post-secondary degree with at least four years of study in a specialized field.

 H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Employment - For seasonal or temporary agricultural employment.

H-2B: Temporary Non-agriculture Employment - For seasonal or temporary non-agriculture employment. Limited to a number of certain countries.

H-3: Special Education Visitor or Trainee - For people receiving training that is not academic or graduate medical, and not available in the applicant’s home country.

L: Intracompany Transferees - For people who will work at a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of their employer in an executive or managerial capacity, or in a position that requires specialized knowledge.

O: Individuals with Special Achievements or Abilities - For people with special abilities or achievements in the arts, education, sciences, athletics, sciences, business, or extraordinary skills in television and motion picture.

P-1: An Individual or Team Athlete or Member of An Entertainment Group - For such persons to perform at certain athletic competitions or as part of an entertainment group.

P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Group or Individual) - For certain performances under reciprocal exchange programs between a U.S. organization and one from another country.

P-3: Entertainer or Artist (Group or Individual) - To teach, coach or perform in certain programs that are traditionally ethnic or culturally unique, musical, artistic, folk or theatrical presentation or performance.

Q-1: Participant of An International Cultural Program - For employment and practical training and for sharing traditions, culture and history of the applicant’s home country by taking part in an international cultural exchange program.


How to Apply 

Upon the approval of the Petition for Non-immigrant Employment by the USCIS (Form I-129), applicants may apply for their visa. The application process involves several steps, and these may vary greatly depending on the U.S. Embassy, Consulate or applicant’s nationality.

After making an application, certain applicants may be required to attend an interview at a location set by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country. Although interviews are not required for certain ages, consular officers can request an interview for any applicant at their own discretion. 


  1. US Department of State (https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/employment.html)
  2. USCIS (https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers)
  3. US Embassy (http://www.usembassy.gov/)