Perhaps you are a foreign national who has the opportunity to take a job or receive specialized training in the United States. If you are already in the U.S., this likely means changing the reason you are here.

When applying for the kind of visa you need, you must file a request to change your non-immigrant status.

Visa classifications

The H classification is commonly sought by both highly-skilled individuals and those with lesser skills. For example, the H-1B visa is for those who have the knowledge required to work in specialty occupations, while the H-2A is a temporary visa for agricultural workers. The H-3 visa is for people interested in specialized training or who are education exchange students.

The hiring process

The hiring of a non-immigrant worker begins with the employer filing a Form I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The petition is made on behalf of a prospective employee who is a foreign national. If this individual is living in another country, he or she must apply for admission to the U.S. If the prospective employee is already here—as a tourist, for example—he or she must apply to change whatever the current non-immigrant status is to qualify for the appropriate visa.

Permanent employment

The limit for immigrants seeking permanent employment in the United States is 140,000 annually, but since this number includes eligible family members, the number of workers is actually less. There are five preference categories into which the 140,000 are divided. For example, the first is for “persons of extraordinary ability” in various professions from business executives to athletes. The third category is for skilled workers with two years or more of training or experience, and for unskilled laborers who will be in permanent rather than temporary or seasonal jobs.

Seeking help

An attorney experienced with assisting individuals and families with immigration matters will tell you that the process of obtaining work visas can be complicated. However, when a shortage of U.S. workers opens the road to employment for foreign nationals, navigating your way through the government requirements will be worthwhile, and you will not have to do it alone.