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How To Get A Work Visa

Updated: December 18, 2023
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Getting a work visa entails applying for a permit when seeking employment in a foreign country—a country where you are not recognized as a citizen by law. Typically, all countries, including the United States of America, demand a work visa for foreigners.

Using the US as an example, you need a specific type of work visa based on the kind of work you seek to do in the US. There are various types of work permits you can get – we have explained further about this later in the article.

Various countries have different work visa requirements. Hence, ensure you carefully study and familiarize yourself with the requirements of your desired country. You can do this by checking with the consulate or embassy of the country you plan to work.

For some countries, work visas are available by application, while in others, your employer needs to apply for the work permit on your behalf.

Here is an article that defines a work permit visa.

Steps to Get a Work Visa

Immigration can be complicated, especially if you do not know how to go about it. Below is a general step-by-step framework of how to get a work visa. To make sure you’re successful, your employer must be cooperative - otherwise, your efforts may be futile.

  1. Prepare for the Visa Application. You and your employer must fulfill three (3) major requirements before applying to get a work visa. Failure to meet these requirements might result in a failed work visa application. These requirements are:
    • Job Offer: You must have applied for and received a job offer in your destination country before applying for a work visa.
    • Employer Petition: After the job offer, your potential employer must also file a petition on your behalf. With the approved petition, you can’t start your work visa application process. However, an approved employer petition doesn’t guarantee the acceptance of your work visa application.
    • Department of Labor Approval: Certain types of visas require that your employer gets a DOL certificate of approval. Such work permit visa types include H-2B, H-2A, H1B1, and H-1B visas. This certificate proves that your employer truly has an open position suitable for a foreign worker.
  2. Undergo the Visa Application Process. After appropriate preparation, you can now start your work visa application process. You must follow the steps below to stand a greater chance of work permit approval:
    • Visa Application: You must completely fill out the form DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application. While filling, ensure the information provided is as accurate as possible to your best knowledge. Ensure your answers are in English, too.
    • Interview Schedule: After applying, you will schedule an interview at the country’s embassy in your country of residence. That is, if you are applying for a US work permit visa but you live in Ireland, you will schedule an interview at a US embassy in Ireland.
    • Interview Preparation: This is an essential prerequisite to acing the interview. You must pay a non-refundable application fee before the interview. Ensure your documents are complete and up-to-date. Documents needed include passport, visa application fee payment receipt, nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page, etc. Check the consulate or embassy website to know the required documents.
  3. Attend the Interview. This is typically the final stage of getting a work visa. The interview involves meeting with a consulate office to review your application and answer various questions. The surest way to ace your interview is to be honest and detailed with your answers. These consulate officers have been trained to identify deceptions quickly and would consequently deny you the work visa if you’re caught.

Here is an article on how to get a work visa.

Eligibility for Getting a Work Visa

As mentioned, various countries may have different requirements for giving a work visa. As a prospective worker, you must take your time to identify these requirements and fulfill them accordingly. These requirements can change over time, so you must be up-to-date with the information to help you put a stronger foot forward when applying.

Certain eligibility conditions are common when applying for a work visa. These conditions include:

  • You must have enough money to provide for yourself and your dependents. This is otherwise called proof of funds.
  • You must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, to return to your country immediately after your work is completed, and your stay duration is over in their country.
  • You must have no criminal record.
  • A certificate of good health is also required.
  • You won’t take another job apart from that which your employer allots to you.
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Types of Work Visas

There are different types of work permits depending on the kind of work you want to do and your duration of stay, whether temporary or permanent. Understanding these work visa types is instrumental to having a successful work visa application process.

The types of work visas include:

  • Nonimmigrant Visas: These visas instruct that you leave the country immediately after your visa expiration, except if you choose to reapply for a date extension. Below are the various types of nonimmigrant visas:
    • H-1B: This is a very popular work visa issued by the US for foreigners with special occupations, such as computer engineering, computer science, and others.
    • L-1: This is a work visa available for foreigners seeking to work for businesses owned by foreigners but affiliated with US companies. To qualify for this visa, you must have worked in such an affiliated company for at least one (1) continuous year within the last three (3) years before application.
    • O-1: Do you have extraordinary skills within your field? Then consider applying for the O-1 work visa. A criterion often considered is being atop your field and known internationally or nationally for your achievements.
    • E-1: This is a work permit for persons looking to enter the US for trade activities. These people can apply as a Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor. To do this, you must be willing to invest large sums of money into a US business and prove that you want to upscale your investment.

    Other nonimmigrant work visas you can get are the TN work visa, the Australian professional specialty visa, and the seasonal agricultural work visa.

  • Immigrant Visas: Immigrant visas are offered to foreigners who plan to permanently work and live in the United States. Types of immigrant visas are:
    • EB-1: Extraordinary Ability
    • EB-1C: Multinational Executive or Manager
    • EB-2: Advanced Degree

Here is an article on types of work visas.

Processing Time to Get a Work Visa

It’s nearly impossible to predict the duration of a visa application process accurately. It’s an individual process that depends on various factors, including the applicants themselves.

Some applications may be delayed because of an applicant’s failure to follow certain instructions, or for further administrative processing, etc. Nonetheless, on average, it takes about 5-7 months to get a work visa.

Final Thoughts on How to Get a Work Visa

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