The main temporary US work visas are the H-1B, the L-1, and the E-3

1. H-1B Specialty Occupation Visas


  • It can be especially difficult to obtain because only 65,000 H-1B visas are issued annually worldwide.
  • You will need to have secured a job offer from a US employer.
  • To qualify you must work in a ‘specialty occupation,’ which can include finance, accounting, sales, engineering, teaching, healthcare, legal, business, hospitality, and others.
  • An equivalent of a US college or university degree in a relevant subject is necessary, which can be met by a non-US and/or relevant degree, followed by three or more years of work experience, or twelve years of high-level work experience.
  • The visa is issued for up to three years but can be extended for a maximum of six years. It also allows your spouse and children under 21 to accompany you on an H4 visa.
  • It is a “dual intent” visa that allows you to apply for a Green Card (Legal Permanent Residency) as well.
  • A total of 3 to 6 months should be allowed for the visa application and confirmation process.

2. L-1 Visa (Multi-national employees)


  • Allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer employees for up to 7 years.
  • You must have worked for the subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the US company outside the US for at least one year of the past three years.
  •  Only managers, executives and specialized knowledge staff are able to apply for an L1 visa.

3. E-3 Visa for Aussies


  • Working temporarily in a specialty occupation for which you already have a job offer in the US
  • A “specialty occupation” requires a body of knowledge in a professional field and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree relating to that occupation. To determine what qualifies as a “specialty occupation,” see Although there is no definitive list of occupations, you can use a guide through the O*NET Online website.
  • The E-3 visa is valid for a maximum of 2 years, but can be renewed as long as you do not intend to remain or work permanently in the US.
  • No extra fee applies in addition to the worldwide non-refundable visa application fee.
  • If an E-3 visa is approved at interview, it can take 2-3 business days for it to be issued.
  • The US issues a maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas annually.
  • Spouses of an E-3 visa holder are allowed to work in the US also, and are not required to hold a position in a specialty occupation.

Other Work Visas

H-2B Visa

  • Similar to the H-1B Visa, but is aimed at only short term temporary or seasonal work.
  • You must first have a job offer from an employer in a field including hotels, ticket sales, cruise ships, ski resorts, restaurants, retail stores, and others similar.
  • You must meet the job qualifications for your offer.
  • You must intend to return home when the job ends and visa expires.

T-N1 Visa

  • Similar to the H-1B but is directed toward Canadian and Mexican citizens only.

Green Card

  • A permanent residency visa that can lead to US Citizenship.
  • Can be acquired by employment and sponsorship, by marriage, by family member, or by the Green Card Lottery.

Green Card Lottery

  • Fill out an online application form in October or November through the US Immigration Bureau to enter the pool of applicants.
  • Only 50,000 a year are selected, so it can be quite tough to acquire.


  • Your employer, once you determine that you are eligible for a Green Card, will complete a Labor Certification request and submit it to the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
  • The INS will then approve an “Immigrant Visa Petition” filed by your employer.
  • After you are assigned an immigrant visa number, you must adjust your status by submitting additional forms to the INS.

E-2 visa

  • For people who want to buy, invest or start a business in the US.

J-1 visa

  • A short-term training and learning visa, after which you return to your home country and apply the skill you have acquired.