A temporary work visa allows you to enter the United States in order to perform a job, occupation, or task for a fixed amount of time. It also allows you to enter to receive specific training in your field. Temporary work visas are never to be considered permanent, or as a permission to remain in the United States past the fixed date. Before a temporary work visa is issued, the prospective employer must file a petition and be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How to Get a Temporary Work Visa in the U.S.

There is a flood of people that desire to bring their labor and talents to the United States. Because of this, there is a thorough process and paperwork just to attempt to obtain a temporary work visa. The process is similar for those who want to come to the U.S. to learn. However, they would need to apply for a student visa.

How to Apply for a Work Visa

Before an individual can even begin to apply, an employer is required to file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-29 on the behalf of the individual seeking the job. This form states for the governmental record that the employer is seeking to employ the labor and skill set of the foreign resident. It’s important to note that it can also be used to train someone from a foreign country.

Once this petition is granted, the employer should also file a petition with the Department of Labor on behalf of the employee seeking a visa. An immigrant seeking a temporary work visa should then file the Nonimmigrant Visa Application. This can be completed online. Once this is complete, the form should be printed and an interview scheduled.

Temporary work visas generally last for 6 months to 1 year, although this can depend on the specific circumstances and the particular visa granted. Any foreign resident is able to petition the U.S. for an extension of the visa every 6 months.

Types of Temporary Work Visas

As there are many different types of people and professions looking to learn and work in the U.S., there are many different temporary work visa classifications. However, each should be understood and recognized as they carry different roles, responsibilities, and time frames for remaining in the U.S.

E Class Visas

E-1, E-2, E-2C, and E-3 work visas generally pertain to foreign nationals that are coming to the U.S. to work in highly specialized areas. Usually these pertain to finance. E-1 allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to make financial trades on his or her own behalf. E-2 allows entry to those investing capital. Then, an E-2C allows for an extended stay for such a foreign national to allow more time through the U.S. Immigration System. 

E-3 visas are reserved for those foreign nationals specifically from Australia that are coming to the U.S. to apply a type of highly specialized knowledge.   

H Class Visas

An H-1B Visa is presented to a foreign national that presents exceptional skill or knowledge in a certain area. These areas pertain to specialty occupations, Department of Defense Cooperative Researchers, Project Developers, and Fashion Models. 

H1-B recipients are generally granted an initial time period of 3 years in which they can work in the U.S. Extensions are generally granted, up to 6 years. However, there are exceptions for those who are seeking to make their employment in the U.S. permanent. This is only if they have demonstrated a skill and viability beyond their citizen counterparts.

H-1C Visas are granted to registered nurses with a fixed 3 year time frame to work in the U.S. There are no extensions granted for an H-1C Visa, regardless of circumstance. 

H-2A and H-2B visas bring a requirement to show that there is not enough skilled labor in this area. Therefore this requires bringing in specialized labor that is available from foreign nationals. H-2A visas apply to temporary agricultural workers and carry an initial period of 12 months. There is a 3 year maximum extension. H-2B visas are applicable to skilled and unskilled workers of a non-agricultural nature. They carry an initial period of 12 months, with a 3 year maximum extension.

P Class Visas

P- 1A, P-1B, P-2, and P-3 visas generally refer to internationally recognized athletes, artists, or entertainers. The job they are coming to the U.S. to perform can range from competing at the highest levels of professional sports, to teaching cultural enrichment through their art and performances.

The time allotment given to P class work visas can vary, generally due to the nature of the job performance. Most P class visas are given for whatever the allotted time may be to complete the task. There is a 10 year maximum for professional athletes. However, no maximum exists for other professions under P class. 


R-1 Visas are applicable only to clergy and religious workers. To receive an R-1 visa, an applicant must be employed by a nonprofit religious organization, or coming to work in the U.S. solely in a religious role. This could include clergy, minister, or any other religious occupation. Extensions are allowed for R-1 visas, but there is a maximum stay of 5 years.

File an Extension

When filing for an extension, it is important to be proactive. You should be familiar with your current visa, and know exactly when the time will elapse, whether it is 6 months or 3 years. Any individual of nonimmigrant status that seeks to file an extension can file within 4 months of the expiration date, but should absolutely do so before their time completely expires.

A request must be filed with the USCIS on the I-539 Form, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. If a temporary work visa expires, there is a grace period of 60 days before a nonimmigrant is required to vacate the country. However, this grace period is completely discretionary. If you are not within the bounds of your documented visa, you risk being forcibly removed from the country. 

Take Steps Towards Understanding Temporary Work Visas

Navigating the visa process is not always simple. If you find yourself in a situation where you require assistance with your temporary work visa, or in need of someone to help you file for an extension, you may wish to reach out to a local attorney for the counsel and expertise required to help you. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!

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