Working in the US as a non-immigrant

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Working in the US as a non-immigrant

ASK the Embassy

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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Q: What are the requirements for employment-based visas?

A: To work in the United States temporarily, as a lawful non-immigrant, applicants must first qualify for the appropriate visa category based on their planned employment purpose.


This could include agricultural farm work, seasonal employment at a hotel or resort, specialised skilled jobs, or as a minister of religion.


The steps in the process before applying for a visa vary, but all temporary work visas require the prospective employer in the United States to file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. You can review the employment groupings and categories online at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment.html

Q: Do I need a passport to pursue temporary agricultural work in the US?

A: Effective February 19, 2016, any person seeking to enter the United States to perform temporary agricultural work must present a valid passport and a valid H-2A visa in order to be admitted to the United States.

This includes British, French, and Netherlands nationals, and nationals of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago who were previously exempt from this requirement.

Q: I am planning to travel to the US as a temporary housekeeper at a resort. I worked there last year. Do I need to return to the embassy for an interview for my H-2B visa?

A: It depends. You may be eligible for an interview waiver if your previous H-2B visa has not expired in the past 12 months, and you are applying for the same visa class. However, in some cases you will need to reappear for an interview at the US Embassy with a consular officer.


In all cases, applicants are required to submit a new application form (DS-160) and have a petition approved by USCIS.


Some temporary worker categories are limited in the total number of petitions that can be approved on a yearly basis. For more information about the petition process, eligibility requirements by visa category and numerical limits, if applicable, visit: www.uscis.gov.


Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send your prospective employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797, and you may apply for a visa. There are several steps in the visa application process. For additional information on applying for a visa at the US Embassy in Kingston, please refer to: https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-jm/niv.

Q: I am a minister of religion, planning to work in the US on a religious visa (R-1). What documents do I need to bring to my visa interview?

A: Some temporary worker visa categories, including religious workers, require your prospective employer to obtain a labour certification or other approval from the Department of Labor on your behalf before filing the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS.

Your prospective employer should review the instructions for Form I-129 on the USCIS website to determine whether a labour certification is required for you.


In general, you must be a member of the same religious denomination as the religious organisation you plan to work for in the United States for at least two years before that organisation files a petition on your behalf.


You should also be going to work as a minister, or in a religious vocation or occupation in the United States; be employed by a non-profit religious organisation in the United States (or an organisation affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States); and work at least part time, an average of at least 20 hours per week. Visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/other-visa-categories/temporary-religious-worker.html for additional information and details on Temporary Religious Worker Visas.

Q: I am a software engineer at a US company. My employer has submitted a petition for an H-1B visa. What is this type of visa, and what is required for me to bring to my interview?

A: An H-1B visa is for work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation requires the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) for entry into the occupation. An applicant seeking to work in a specialty occupation must have completed such a degree or have experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of the degree (as determined by USCIS).


Applicants should also have expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty. All applicants need to bring their approved petition (I-129 form) and a job letter to their interview.

You can find more information on our website, www.jm.usembassy.gov or by visiting www.travel.state.gov Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USEmbassyJamaica/ and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


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