Different Ways Foreign Workers Can Work in the US

Each year, thousands of non-US workers are admitted into the US. These include workers and employees in just about every industry and field possible, from world-famous research scientists to artists, au pairs, religious workers, medical workers, and others. Every immigrant worker needs to secure permission and authorization to work in the US. Undocumented workers are subject to legal problems, deportation, and are not protected in the same ways by US laws. Fortunately, the US welcomes a wide range of workers each year, so that it is possible to be admitted into the US for work legally. There are many categories of work authorization you can apply for:

  1. Temporary workers. Also known as a non-immigrant worker, this type of employee enters the US for a specific job and for a specific time frame. In order to be a nonimmigrant worker in the US, you must be willing to work only as your visa authorizes you to. You cannot switch employers or jobs once you enter the US on this type of visa.
  2. Visa authorization for workers. Most people who arrive in the US need to apply for a US visa. Some US visas automatically confer employment authorization to visa holders. Other visas require workers to apply for employment authorization separately. Some visa, such as the B-1 visa and B-2 visa for visitors and business visitors, do not allow visa holders to apply for employment in the US. The B-1 visa for business travelers, for example, allows you to enter the US for some business-related tasks but does not allow you to take part in paid employed in the US. If you wish to work in the US, you will want to ensure that you enter the US with employment authorization or a visa that automatically grants employment authorization.
  3. Permanent workers. Also known as an immigrant worker, this type of employee has a green card and can work and live permanently in the US. A green card allows the immigrant worker to switch jobs, employers, and places of work and allows the green card holder to travel in and out of the US more freely. A green card holder can hold most jobs in the US, except for some types of public office and a few government jobs requiring very high levels of clearance. It is possible to become an immigrant worker by applying for a green card. If you have lived in the US for a long period of time or can get sponsorship through a family member or employer, you may be able to apply for a green card. You can also apply for a green card through the green card lottery and through other programs.
  4. Student visa holders. Some exchange visitors and student visa holders in the US may get authorization to work in the US. However, to get this authorization, student visa holders must get permission from the Designed School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) in their case.