In order for a foreign national seeking employment in the United States to enter and work in the country, they will need to first obtain a visa. This visa will fall into one of two categories, either permanent or temporary. As the names imply, the main difference between temporary and permanent work visas is the amount of time they enable a foreign national to live and work in the United States. Each comes with its own set of requirements and its own application process.

What is a Temporary Work Visa?

A temporary visa is used when a person wants to enter the United States for a set period of time and then return to their home country. Those with this type of visa are restricted both in time and activity based on the purpose for which they were issued the visa. Temporary visas come in many categories, including but not limited to:

  • H-1B, for the highly educated in specialty occupations where at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent is required
  • H-2A, for agricultural workers
  • H-2B, for non-agricultural seasonal workers
  • L-1A and B, for those employed outside the U.S. for at least a year in a position that requires specialized knowledge and whose services are being sought after by an employer in the United States

What is a Permenent Work Visa?

A permanent work visa allows an immigrant worker to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. This type of visa offers greater flexibility and opportunity for advancement than a temporary visa. Permanent residents have fewer restrictions placed on them and are also eligible to apply for citizenship if they wish. In order to get a permanent visa, an employer must file a petition with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for their employee who is seeking said visa.

Can I Get Permanent Residency Through my Temporary Work Visa?

If you are in the U.S. through a work visa, you can apply for an adjustment of status to permanent residence. There is a three-step process to this adjustment.

  • Employers who want to petition for their employees to have permanent residence are usually required to obtain certification from the Department of Labor that establishes that there are no U.S. workers available to fill the position they require
  • The employer must petition USCIS for the foreign worker. There are some situations that allow an immigrant who wants a permanent work visa to petition for themselves, but they are rare.
  • A foreign worker who is already in the United States on a temporary work visa can apply for AOS (adjustment of status) to permanent residence once the employer’s petition to USCIS is granted.

For any questions you have on employment visas, call an experienced Californian immigration attorney now at (408) 645-6395.