Different Categories of U.S. Work Visas

In today’s article, we’re here to guide you through the various types of U.S. work visas that foreign nationals should be aware of.

The United States has long been a destination for economic opportunities, and immigrants have played a significant role in contributing to American business. Let’s explore the different categories of U.S. work visas and their regulations.

Immigrant Visas: Permanent Employment-Based Immigration

Immigrant visas, commonly known as green cards, are held by permanent residents. They provide certain employment privileges with some limitations. Green card holders can generally work for any employer except for jobs designated exclusively for U.S. citizens. Employment authorization is established through the green card.

EB-1: Priority Workers

The EB-1 category, reserved for priority workers, includes three subcategories:

  • Individuals with extraordinary ability (EB-1A)
  • Outstanding researchers and professors (EB-1B)
  • Multinational managers and executives (EB-1C)

While most EB-1 applicants require employer sponsorship, those with extraordinary ability (EB-1A) can self-sponsor in some cases. There’s an annual cap of 40,000 EB-1 visas, with country-specific limits.

EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability

The EB-2 category is for professionals with advanced degrees or those with exceptional skills in science, business, or the arts. Certification of approved individual labour from the Department of Labor is usually required, although some may qualify for a national interest waiver.

EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers

The EB-3 category includes skilled workers with a minimum of two years of experience, professionals with college degrees, and unskilled workers for non-seasonal, non-temporary labour. While EB-3 has fewer strict requirements, there’s a longer backlog, and most cases need employment sponsorship and permanent labour certification.

Non-Immigrant Work Visas: Temporary Employment-Based Visas

Non-immigrant work visas are temporary and not linked to permanent residency. They come with certain restrictions, such as specific employers and limited employment periods, and are authorized through the visa.

E-1/E-2 Visa: Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor

E-1 visas allow foreign nationals from specific countries to engage in international trade in the U.S. E-2 visas, on the other hand, are for treaty investors who must make a significant investment in an active enterprise benefiting the U.S. economy.

H-1B Visa: Professional Workers in a Specialty Occupation

H-1B visas are highly sought-after and require a job offer from a U.S. employer in a speciality profession, typically requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. Employers must file an I-129 petition to support the foreign national financially.

L-1 Visa: Temporary Intra/Intercompany Transferee

The L-1 visa allows multinational companies to transfer managers, employees, or executives with specialized knowledge to the U.S. These employees should have worked for the foreign employer for one continuous year in the past three years.

O-1 Visa: Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

The O-1 visa is for individuals with extraordinary skills in fields like science, education, business, arts, or the motion picture/television industry. It allows U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals with exceptional talents.

TN Visa: Professionals Under NAFTA

The TN visa, created under NAFTA, is available to eligible nationals of Mexico and Canada. It’s designed for specific professions and requires a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. TN professionals are initially granted a three-year stay, extendable for another three years.


That wraps up our overview of the different categories of U.S. work visas. Each visa type has its unique requirements and purposes.

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