The quest to obtain a work permit or work visa in the U.S. can sometimes be confusing, overwhelming, and tiring. However, to fully understand the process of getting a work permit or visa, one must understand various factors related to the laws and regulations of U.S. immigration law.

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the law governing U.S. immigration policy, only 675,000 immigrants may be permanently admitted annually, with exceptions for close family members (spouses and children).

Permanent Work Permit

Permanent immigration based on employment is severely limited. The 140,000 visas are divided into five preferences, each limited by numerical constraints, i.e., numbers that can be allocated. Some of the qualifying criteria are:
  • U1 - Persons with Extraordinary Ability - This covers anyone with exceptional talents, such as scientists, chess players, and artists. This is by invitation only.
  • U2 - Members of Profession Holding Advanced Degrees - People with advanced degrees, such as master's or medical degrees, are eligible in this category.
  • U3 - Skilled and qualified workers - People who can transfer their skills to a relevant occupation, are eligible for this visa category.
  • U4 - Special Immigrants - Religious workers and people looking to visit or join relatives are eligible under this category.
  • U5 - Investor and Entrepreneur - People were looking to start a business are eligible for this visa.
Temporary work visas can easily be obtained with a job offer or sponsorship.

The U.S. Government has strict requirements regarding the types of people who can visit the U.S. for work and study. Many countries also have specific regulations for people coming into their country on travel or work visas. And, of course, temporary people coming to the U.S. for work or study need to be sponsored by their employers.

In addition to the numerical limits placed on the number of immigrants allowed through different preferences (each of which has its numerical limits), the INA limits how many people can come to the United States in a year from an individual country. No single government can account for more than 7% of the total number of immigrants coming to the U.S. over a year. This prevents any one nationality from dominating the American immigration landscape.