There are numerous different types of work visas that immigrant workers can apply for, depending on the type of job desired. According to the American Immigration Council, foreign workers may apply for a visa based on temporary or permanent work. For temporary jobs, the visa is valid for a limited amount of time and the status expires upon completion or termination of the job. The most common temporary visas are H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1A and L-1B. The H-1B and 2B have limits on how many are approved each year, but there is no limit for the other visa classifications. With approval of any of these visas, spouses and children who are younger than 21 may live in the US as well.
For permanent employment, a foreign worker can lawfully live in the United States forever, even if they are not currently working. There are only 140,000 of these visas approved annually, and this number includes spouses and children. The categories for these visas include:
- Priority workers
- Professionals with advanced degrees
- Skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers
- Certain special immigrants
- Immigrant investors
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services discusses another way professionals from Canada and Mexico may be able to work in the United States. Scientists, lawyers, accountants, pharmacists, engineers and teachers may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status through NAFTA if they meet certain requirements. Canadians do not need a visa for classification, but Mexicans need to apply for a TN visa. Spouses and dependents are eligible for TD nonimmigrant status, but may not work, and Mexican citizens must apply for a visa.