How to Get a Job in the USA

by Calyn Ehid

There are many benefits for getting a job in the United States. Applying for a job in the United States is tricky for international workers, as you must have the right documentation before you are legally allowed to start your job. In order to work, you must have either a Green Card or a work visa, with multiple types of visas available depending on your working needs.

In addition, there are limitations on the number of work visas which can be offered each year, making for a competitive application process. While the process may seem involved and overly complicated, it is manageable if you take it one step at a time and understand the differences between all of the different visa options.

Green Card

Green Card is the informal name for a Lawful Permanent Resident Card. With a Green Card, you are allowed to indefinitely live and work in the United States. A Green Card gives you the most freedom with working in the United States, but it is the hardest document to obtain. If you are only interested in working in the United States for a short period of time, it is not recommended to go through the process of getting a Green Card over a work visa.

There are three options for getting a Green Card. In addition to applying for work reasons, you can also apply to reunite with family members, or you can enter the Green Card Lottery. The lottery allows you to enter an application without meeting the other requirements. It only allows you to submit an application, so winning the lottery does not grant automatic entry into the United States. Normally, it takes several years and multiple interviews to complete the Green Card application.

H1B Work Visa

The H1B work visa is the option most international workers apply for. One of the benefits the H1B visa has over the other work visas is it is considered a dual intent visa. This allows you to apply for a Green Card while you are working in the United States. The H1B visa is valid for a period of six years, but in most situations, it is only issued for an initial three years, with the option to renew it for an additional three years if you are still employed.

If you have a family, your spouse and any children under the age of 21 are allowed to live in the United States with you. If your spouse or children want to work, they are required to apply for their own work visa. As of writing, 85,000 H1B visas can be issued each year.

Individuals are not able to apply for an H1B work visa. Instead, a company must file the application on your behalf. Your job must be in a field classified as a skilled specialty occupation. This includes a wide range of jobs, with notable examples including computing, finance, advertising, engineering, legal, teaching, law and healthcare.

H2B Work Visa

The H2B work visa is a significantly limited version of the H1B visa. The H2B visa is only relevant if you want a temporary job in the United States, such as working in hospitality, construction, maintenance, security or retail. Other jobs are included as long as it qualifies as seasonal or intermittent work. This also includes one-time occurrence jobs.

The duration of a H2B visa is based on the job you are applying for. Since the H2B visa is intended for temporary work, the maximum period you can obtain a visa is one year. There are options to apply for an additional extension, which can increase the duration of the visa to three years. This is determined on a case by case basis. In order to apply, you must already have a job offer.

L1 Work Visa

The L1 visa has one of the easier application processes, but it has limited uses. The L1 visa is intended for international workers who are already employed overseas, but work in a company that is expanding into the United States. You must have worked at the company for at least one year before you can apply for a L1 visa. Normally, a L1 visa lasts for three years, but it is possible to get the duration extended to seven years. While you have a L1 visa, you are also allowed to apply for a Green Card.

H2A Work Visa

The H2A work visa is another limited work visa, intended for temporary agricultural workers. The eligibility requirements are stricter than the other work visas. In order for your employer to apply for a H2A visa on your behalf, he or she must show there are not enough workers in the United States able to perform your job. This also includes proving hiring you will not negatively affect the wages or working conditions of US workers in a similar field. The length of an H2A visa is determined by your employer. The maximum time you can stay is one year, but your employer can request an extension to extend the duration for up to three years.

Tips for Applying for U.S. Jobs

Appealing to employers is a key component in getting your work visa. Fortunately, finding employment internationally is much easier thanks to the internet. It also means the application process is even more competitive, since so many potential workers from all around the world are applying for the position you want.

One of the ways to stand out among the competition is to provide a detailed, but concise resume. Try to keep your resume limited to one page. Your resume should only highlight the skills and education relevant to the job. Take the time to learn about the company and explain why you are interested in working for them in your cover letter.