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Temporary vs. Permanent Work Visas: What’s the Difference?


The United States attracts immigrants from all sorts of professional backgrounds. Researchers, artists, religious workers, scientists and even athletes seek employment in the U.S. However, to enter and work in the country, immigrant workers will need to have a visa. There are two categories of employment visas for workers: temporary and permanent. In this blog, we explain what the differences are between these two types of visas.

Temporary Work Visa

Temporary workers are people who do not intend to stay in the United States as a permanent resident. These workers must have a specific purposes when entering the country and their stay must be limited. People with a temporary work visa are restricted to the specific activity or reason for which they were issued the visa.

The following visas apply to temporary workers:

  • H-1B: For highly educated foreign professionals in “specialty occupations” that require a bachelor’s level degree or equivalent training.
  • H-2A:  For temporary agricultural workers.
  • H-2B: For seasonal non-agricultural temporary workers.
  • L-1A &B: For immigrants employed by an employer abroad for at least one year in a managerial, executive, or other position that requires specialized knowledge and whose services are being sought in similar capacities by a U.S. employer.

Permanent Work Visa

Permanent work visas enable foreign nationals to work and live permanently in the United States. Permanent residents are subjected to fewer restrictions than workers with temporary visas. People with a permanent work visa can also apply for U.S. citizenship. Employers must file a petition with USCIS for the worker to get their permanent visa. If a person is already in the U.S. on a temporary visa, they can apply for “adjustment of status” to permanent residence after USCIS approves their employer’s petition.

Do you have more questions about obtaining a permanent or temporary work visa? Contact our San Jose team of immigration attorneys to request a consultation today.

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