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What You Need to Know about Employment-Based Immigration


If you are a citizen of another country trying to immigrate to the United States for work-related reasons, it is important to know exactly what you are facing when applying for your visa. There are currently several different categories of employment-based visas, and it is important to know the differences between them in order to make sure you are obtaining the right one for your situation. Here is an in-depth look at the different types of employment-based visas, so you can determine which one is right for you.


Temporary Employment-Based Visa Classifications:


H-1B- This visa grants temporary residency in the United States to foreign professionals in “specialty occupations.” The amount of H-1B visas granted per year is capped at 65,000, with an additional 20,000 for professionals with a master’s degree or higher degree from a United States university. H-1B workers are allowed to bring their spouses and children under 21 with them on an H-4 visa, and their employers are required to attest that the employment of the H-1B worker will not negatively impact the working conditions and wages of his or her fellow employees who are United States citizens.


H-2A- Agricultural workers who are temporarily in the U.S. for employment are eligible for an H-2A visa. While there is no annual limit to the number of H-2A visas granted, they are only extended if an employer can attest that there are no United States citizens available or qualified to fill the position. Spouses and children of H-2A workers may enter on an H-4 visa, but are not permitted to work while they are in the United States.


H-2B- Seasonal or migrant agricultural workers fall into the category of eligibility for an H-2B visa. As with the H-2A, employers must attest that there are no available, qualified U.S. citizens who can fill the positions in order for their foreign employees to obtain an H-2B. In fact, this visa is very much like an H-2A visa, except that the annual amount of H-2B visas granted is limited to 66,000.


L-1A and L-1B- Both of these visas are reserved for workers in foreign companies that are somehow tied to U.S. companies,  whose services are being requested by their United States employers. For example, if a telecommunications company based in New York wishes to bring over a specialist from their Mumbai call center for consulting, the employee must apply for an L-1A or L-1B visa to be able to temporarily work for their company’s U.S. entity. This temporary work visa has the fewest number of restrictions, with no annual limit, and the ability of their spouses and children under 21 not only to enter the United States (on an L-2 visa) but also to work while they are here.


Regardless of the type of employment-based visa you are applying for, please note that the filing fee for application is $460. Additional fees and charges may be assessed depending upon the type of visa and the circumstances. Also, because these are all temporary work visas, they are all subject to expiration: both the H-2A and H-2B visas are valid for up to three years (with immigrant workers having to re-apply each year) while the H-1B, L-1A and L-1B classifications may be extended up to six or seven years total, respectively.

If you are seeking employment in the United States and need assistance with applying for a temporary employment-based visa, Sunstate Immigration can help! Diaz Shafer, PA, and her team of experienced immigration attorneys specialize in helping people obtain visas that allow them to work in the United States. Contact our Tampa, FL office today at 1-855-VISA-SUN to speak with a representative and schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer. We are here for you!