How to work in the USA
The US is a popular destination for UK citizens wishing to relocate, with 50 diverse states the country has something for everyone and career opportunities are plentiful. Whether you are looking to transfer to a US branch of your current company, start a new job or even begin your own business in the United States, there are various immigration options that may be available to you.
Before you leave the United Kingdom you must apply for the correct immigration route to enter the United States. The US business and work visas have different requirements and you will need to work out which is the most suitable option for you based on why you plan to move to the US and how long you intend to live and work there.
Travel to the United States using the visa waiver program
As a citizen of the United Kingdom, you may not need any type of visa to enter the United States. This is because the UK is part of the US Visa Waiver Program that allows British citizens to travel to the United States for tourism or business reasons. Whilst you can enter the USA without a visa using this route, it’s important to note the limitations of the Visa Waiver Program and why this may not be the best option for you.
The visa waiver program only allows you to enter the US for up to 90 days without a visa, if you wish to stay longer then you will need to apply for another type of US visa. As well as this, the program is only suitable for certain activities. Whilst you can carry out some business activities, this type of travel cannot be used for employment purposes or if you intend to become a permanent resident in the USA.
Types of US Work visas
If you do intend to enter the US for employment purposes, or business purposes not covered under the visa waiver program, then you will need to apply for one of the US employment visas. There are many different types of work visas available to British citizens who would like to work in the US, the right one for you will depend on the type of work you plan to do and how long you intend to be in the country. The US employment visas include:
- H1B Visa – Specialty workers
- H2B Visa – Temporary workers
- H3 Visa – Exchange visitors
- 01 Visa – For individuals with extraordinary ability
- I Visa – Journalists and media professionals
- L1 Visa – Intra-company transfer
- P1 Visa – International athletes
- P3 Visa – artists and entertainers
- R1 Visa – Religious workers
- E1 Visa – Treats traders
- E2 Visa – Treaty investors
The most common US work visa for British citizens is the H1B Visa for speciality workers. This visa allows US companies to hire highly-skilled foreign nationals. The USCIS accepts a total of 85,000 H1B visas per year using a lottery system to select the applications to be processed. To be eligible for this visa you will need to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher education qualifications and be able to work in specialist roles. The H1B visa will allow you to remain in America for up to 3 years and can be extended for up to 6 years.
How to apply for a US Visa to work
The first step in applying for a visa to work in the US is deciding which visa is the best option for you. You should make sure that you can meet all of the requirements for the visa that you have chosen as you will need to prove this when you apply. Once you have decided on the right visa for you, you can begin the application process.
The application process varies depending on the visa that you are applying for, but most US work visas applications require your employer to submit an application form on your behalf and for you to provide adequate evidence that you can meet the requirements.
To apply for the H1B visa, the most common US work visa, your employer must submit an I-129 Petition to the USCIS. They will need to include information about your position. Once this has been approved, you can start working immediately if you are already in the country. If you have not yet entered the USA then you will need to bring your I-129F to the U.S. port of entry and fill out a Form 1-94 to legally enter the country and legally live on your H1B Visa status.
Live and work in the US as a permanent resident
If you wish to live and work in the US permanently, then you will need a green card to do so. A green card will grant you lawful permanent residence in the USA so you won’t have to worry about any time restrictions. Obtaining a green card is also a necessary step if you would like to become a US citizen.
There are several types of employment-based green cards that British citizens working in the US may be eligible for. The EB1 green card is for priority workers, this includes foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, outstanding professors and researchers and certain multinational managers and executives.
The EB2 green card is for overseas nationals who hold advanced qualifications or have exceptional ability. The EB3 green card is for skilled workers, professionals and other workers with an offer of employment from a US-based sponsor. As an EB3 applicant, you will need to demonstrate that your role cannot be filled by US citizens or residents.
Whilst an employment green card will give you the freedom to live in the USA indefinitely, it’s worth noting that the processing times are incredibly lengthy, ranging from 1 to 3 years.
Can my family members join me whilst I work in the US?
Whilst you are working in the US, your family can visit you using the visa waiver program, but they can also apply to remain in the US for more than 90 days with you. Many of the US employment visas will allow family members to travel to the United States with you using a dependent visa. There are a number of different dependent visa for the various work visa categories, they include the:
- H4 Visa – for dependents of those holding any of the H visas
- 03 Visa – for the dependents of those holding a 01 or 02 visa
- L2 Visa – for the dependents of those holding an L1 visa
The family members that you can bring with you to the U.S with these visas include spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. To apply, your family member will need to complete the relevant online application form available on the USCIS website.
How can IAS help?
The US immigration system is complex, and with so many work-related visas it can be difficult to know which immigration route is right for you. Our immigration lawyers are based both in the United Kingdom and the USA and can help you to choose an immigration route that will allow you to work in the USA.
Our lawyers offer legal advice sessions in which they can discuss your circumstances with you, assess your eligibility for the various employment and business visas and can advise you on the most viable work visa for your situation. They can also answer any questions that you may have about emigrating to the USA.
Once you have decided on the visa that you would like to apply for, our lawyers can help you to obtain it by acting as your guide throughout the application process. They will work with you and your employer, ensuring that all necessary forms are filled in correctly and that you have all of the documents required for a successful application.
If you would like to apply for a visa to travel to the United States to work, get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers today by calling 0333 305 9375.
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