US visa requirements for people seeking work permits

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

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

To work in the United States temporarily as a lawful non-immigrant, applicants must first qualify for the available 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 categories of temporary work visas require the prospective employer in the United States to file a petition with the Citizenship and Immigration Service in the Department of Homeland Security. You can review the employment groupings and categories online at:

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

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. This visa requirement also extends to any spouse or child who may wish to accompany or follow the H-2A agricultural worker to the United States.

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 H2B visa?

It depends. You may be eligible for an interview waiver if your previous H2B visa has not expired in the past 12 months, and you are applying for the same visa class. However, in most cases you will need to appear 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 the US Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Some temporary worker categories are limited in the total number of petitions which 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: 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. Please refer to: for more information.

Q: I am a minister of religion, plan

Some temporary worker visa categories, including religious workers, require your prospective employer to obtain a labour certification or other approval from the Department of Labour 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 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 coming 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 for additional information and details on Temporary Religious Worker Visas

You can find more information about how to travel to the US at and on our website, www. Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, USEmbassyJamaica/ and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, you can submit questions on US consular matters to: editorial@jamaicaobserver. com. Information will be passed on to the embassy on your behalf.




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon