Visa Central

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For foreign nationals, one key to a successful professional experience in the United States is to understand the working visa system. What is your current visa status? How to smoothly transfer visa types without break? Check from the below chart, you can get an idea of the complicity which definitely requires some homework.

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(Source: Department of State:

Specifically, it is of critical importance for young professionals seeking career development to know the working visa system. Below is a list of Temporary Worker Visa Categories in the United States for your reference:

Temporary worker visa categories

Visa category  General description – About an individual in this category:
H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.
H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional Chile,Singapore To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa. For application procedures, please refer to the website for the U.S. Embassy in Chile or the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.)
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.
L: Intracompany Transferee To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.  Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years.
O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group) For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group) To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program For practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

(Source: Department of State:

Among the above temporary worker visa categories, H-1B Professional (Specialty Occupation) Visa is the most commonly applied. Hence, we outline some basis information about the H-1B visa as following:

Eligibility:  To be considered a member of a Specialty Occupation, a foreign national must have received, through education and/or experience, the equivalent of at least a bachelor degree in a specific discipline. Additionally, the job offered in the United States must reasonably require such a bachelor’s degree to perform the job duties or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

Duration: The duration of stay with H-1B visa is three years, extendable to six years but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years unless meet certain exception requirements.

Visa Quota: The current law limits to 65,000 the number of foreign nationals who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status each fiscal year (FY). The non-immigrants who work at universities and non-profit research facilities are exempt from this ceiling. Laws also exempt up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a master’s or higher degree from U.S. universities from the cap on H-1B visas.

Prevailing Wage: Before the H-1B petition can be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the employer must fill a “Labor Condition Application” (LCA) with the Department of Labor demonstrating that is it paying the required wage for this position in the geographic region where the job is located. The required wage for the position is the higher of the prevailing local wage or the wage it pays other U.S. citizens who have similar education and experience.

Another tip to enhance your chances of obtaining an H-1B visa is to do your research early. For example, the below Chart A lists the top 12 Work City submitted by US employer in Fiscal Year 2013. The H1B Visa Petitions is the number of Labor Condition Application (LCA) for H1B Visa. . The number includes new, renew and transfer of LCA. The Average Salary is the average proffered salary on LCA or Form 9035. Additionally Chart B snapshots the Top 12 H-1B sponsors in Fiscal Year 2013. From conducting customized research, you can find the H1B Visa sponsors by Industry, Occupation, Job Title, Work City, etc, and initiate more targeted job application process.

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Chart A: Top 12 Work City for H-1B Submission in Fiscal Year 2013

(Source: Department of State:

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 Chart B: Top 12 H-1B Visa Sponsors in Fiscal Year 2013

(Source: Department of State

Good luck! Your comments are welcomed.

Useful Link:

Department of State

H1B Community

Terminology of US Visas

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

United States Department of Labor (Employment Law Guide)

2014 H1B Visa Reports: Top 100 H1B Visa Sponsors


This blog is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers are strongly advised to conduct additional research based on own background and to seek the advice of competent counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Additionally, the information contained in this section is not sponsored or commercially associated with any particular website or organization. The existence of any particular website link is intended solely to provide users with further information which may be of interest. takes no responsibility for the information contained on a linked site.

6 thoughts on “Visa Central

  1. I am an australian citezin and got an offer to work in the US for a call center company. Is it possible to fly to the states and apply working visa when I get to the states? The company is requiring me to work asap.

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