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US Work Visas: Which One Should I Apply For?
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There are many types of work permits, each with specific requirements as to type of position, type of employer, duration, etc. One of the most important steps in the visa application process is to determine what category/ies may be the most suitable, considering the nature of the position, your background and goals, and other factors. Given below are some common positions and the appropriate visa categories for those positions.

Chefs and Hospitality Management positions
Chefs and Cooks
Hospitality Management
Medical Doctors
Computer Positions
Marketing Positions
Fashion Models
Athletes and Entertainers
Accountant and Taxation consultants
Agricultural workers
Au pair or Nanny
Hockey Instructor / Football Coach / Ski Instructor
Teacher / Professor / Research Assistant / Scientist
Religious Workers

Medical Doctors

H-1B visa: Before ImmAct 90, graduates of foreign medical schools were excluded from H-1B classification unless they were to perform services ‘pursuant to an invitation from a public or nonprofit private educational or research institution or agency in the U.S. to teach or conduct research, or both, at or for such institution or agency.’ Patient care had to be incidental to the physician’s teaching or research.

Later, in 1991, the prohibitions against a foreign medical graduate engaging in patient care were removed, but like all other H-1B nonimmigrants, foreign physicians are subject to the LCA and other requirements. Foreign medical graduates must also pass all three parts of the USMLE and be licensed in the state where they will practice to qualify for the H-1B.

A physician entering the U.S. to perform direct patient care is exempt from the examinations requirement if the physician can demonstrate he or she is a physician of national or international renown. Doctors of national or international renown do not fall under the definition of foreign medical graduates and are thus not subject to the examination requirement.

J-1 visa: Nonimmigrant physicians who were coming to the U.S. to obtain medical education and training and thereby perform patient care are required to obtain a J exchange visitor visa through the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Their website,, is very informative and answers many questions regarding qualification, certification, and the application process.

TN visa: Canadian and Mexican medical and allied personnel including dentists, dietitians, laboratory technologists, nutritionist, pharmacist, physical therapist, psychologist, registered nurses and veterinarians may work in the U.S. on a TN visa.

Computer Positions

H-1B visa: The USCIS recognizes that software engineers, system analysts, systems engineers, database administrators, and other computer/information technology (IT) positions are professional/specialty occupations.

One computer occupation remains questionably a professional/specialty occupation. According to the USCIS and DOS, a computer programmer may be a professional/specialty occupation depending on the application of the computer program. Those working with scientific and engineering programs are considered professionals/specialists, whereas those working on programs with business applications may not be. The distinction between business and scientific programmers is artificial and not always followed by the USCIS service centers. The better rule is that technicians and programmers using off-the-shelf prepackaged programs will not be considered engaged in a specialty occupation. Those designing systems, or whose work involves theoretical knowledge or overseeing other programmers, should be deemed professionals/specialists regardless of the program’s application.

L-1 visa: Multinational software companies may transfer their foreign national executives or managers on L-1A visa to manage a subsidiary or a major function or division of a subsidiary. IT professionals with specialized knowledge such as, company products, research methods and marketing techniques may be transferred under the L-1B category.

E visa: IT professionals from treaty countries may be granted both E-1 and E-2 visa as managers and persons with specialized knowledge.

TN visa: Canadian and Mexican software professional have a couple of TN options. The most common of them is a Computer Systems Analyst – which is very broadly defined and covers most IT areas. A second option is that of an Engineer – USCIS now recognizes computer and software engineers as engineers for TN purposes. However, they do look for a degree in engineering or related field (mathematics, computer science) for engineers. A third option is that of a Management Consultant. As a management consultant you have to have a BS degree or 5 years experience in the field. You have to be coming to work for a consulting company or to fill a ‘supernumary’ position with a company in the US.

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