Ep. 29 How can one get a work visa/permit to work in the United States?

  • Most work visas require an employer to sponsor you and most work permits are usually benefit of some sort of a petition
  • If your spouse has a J visa, an L visa or an E visa you are allowed to work with a general permit
  • An H1B visa has a small exemption for self-employment

Raw Transcript:

Jacob: Hello everybody, this is Jacob Sapochnick. Your host Ask an Immigration Lawyer.

Today we have a question from Kimberly W. again from our Facebook and Twitter and her question is how do you go about getting a work permit or a visa to work in United States. Well, of course we know that most people that come here they want to be able to live and work here legally but how do you get a work permit to work in United States?

Well, unlike many other countries the United States has very, very strict rules about employment. So if you want to come to United States to work most work visas like the H1B, the H2B, most work visas require an employer to sponsor you. So if you’re coming to work in a professional capacity you must have a company that will petition your visa. So if it’s an H1B it should be employer that will sign the paper work. If it’s an H2B seasonal visa you need to have a construction company or hotel that will petition and sign the paper work. There is no general work visa or work permit that you can just work anywhere.

Now, if you are married to an immigrant that is here on a visa like an L visa or a J visa or an E visa, the three visas allow for spouse to work. So a J visa, an L visa and an E visa allow their spouses to work with a general work permit. So in this case you can work pretty much anywhere if your spouse has one of those three visas. But an H visa for example H1, H2, H3, spouses cannot work as of now. We know that in 2015 the president announced that H1B visas will be allowed for the spouses to work. So that’s a great addition but so far they’re not allowed to work.

But typically if you want to come here and you’re not married for example and you want to work somewhere, you must find an employer that will petition you. The H1B visa has a small exemption that allows for self-employment where you can start your own company and petition yourself with the H1B visa under certain exemptions. Another way is if you start your own company and then you can get an investor visa like an E1 or an E2 and then you create your own job and you sponsor yourself in the sense that you invest money in the business.

But most work visas require you to have an employer and most work permits are usually benefit of some sort of a petition. So work visas allow you to work independently. So you find an employer and then they get you a visa. But a work permit is typically a benefit of some other petition. Either if you’re married to a spouse or if you’re applying for a green card and while you wait you get a work permit.

In summary, in most cases, if you want to get a work visa to be able to work in the United States it’s probably mostly required an employer to sponsor you and for this employer you can get a visa. So first find a job and an employer to sponsor you.

And so it’s very important to understand that because most people they think that they can come here and then find an employer and then get a visa to be able to work then realizing that they need an employer to sponsor them.
Hopefully that makes sense. If you have any other questions feel free to email us at jacob@askanimmigrationlawyer, go to our website askanimmigrationlawyer.com or you can respond in the comments in our Facebook page with questions that we can air in the show.

You ask, we answer, simple. Thank you so much and we’ll see you at our next episode.

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