US Work and Tourist Visas – A Short Guide

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For those of you hoping to move to the US permanently, the Green Card and permanent residency are definitely the best approaches. But keep in mind there are numerous alternative visa options for you to go and settle there.

Travel Visa

If you are Irish or UK passport holder a citizen of one of the visa-exempt countries, you may travel to the United States for short periods for up to 90 days for business or tourism using the Visa Waiver program.

Employment visas

Employment-based visas are usually issued for a certain job, for a specified period of time and with a particular US-based employer.

Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor visas are suitable for nationals whose countries participate in treaties of commerce and navigation with the USA. For example, if you are an Irish interested in investing in the US, you set up a company in the US and meet certain requirements, you can get an E visa type under such treaty.

Performers P visa

P visas are available for performers coming to the US as part of a group or individually to perform theatre, music etc. Performers usually need an authorised agent to initiate the process for them.

O-1 visa

This visa is usually designated for athletes, people of science and business considered as outstanding in their profession. But criteria are really high and you need a lot of evidence to support such an application.

J-1 and H-1 visas

The J-1 visa is aimed for student or recent graduates and it part of the Exchange Visitor’s programs. The H-1 visa is a six-year visa, subject to quota and requested by a US employer for a qualifying applicant. Because of the quota, H-1 visa is hard to obtain.

H-2 visas

There are two types of temporary work visa types:

H-2A visa is for temporary agricultural and H-2B is for temporary non-agricultural jobs.

H-2B visa

It is perfect for people, who want to enter the US on a one-time occurrence or just for seasonal work. You have to have a job offer from a US employer.

Basic advice: Do not underestimate the visa processing time. It may vary from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on the visa type.

Visa First is a leading international immigration consulting company. For additional information about US visa options, you can e-mail us at

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