This Q&A page is intended as a resource for people who are coming to the United States to seek employment and long term stay.
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Tip number 1: You should know what kind of visa you will be using to enter the United States because some visa types do not allow change of status or extension and will not qualify you for a work permit.
Many people who enter the United States to look for work enter the US on a visa waiver program. United States currently offers visa waiver program, also known as ESTA, to more than a fifty nations in the world. It is important to note that people who enter the United States on ESTA will not be allowed to extend or change their status. This means that people who entered the United States on ESTA are generally not qualified to apply for a work permit because they cannot change their immigration status to one that allows them to apply for a work permit.
On the other hand, people who enter the US on a tourist visa (B-2) or a business visitor visa (B-1) can change status to another work status that is authorized for work, such as H-1b, L-1A, E-3, and several other immigration statuses. Therefore, if you are coming to the United States to look for employment and wish to change immigration status in the United States and apply for a work permit, it is best to enter the United States with a regular visa and not use visa waiver.
Generally, US Department of Homeland Security, which controls immigration and visa petitions, prefer foreign workers to obtain the proper visa to enter the United States instead of changing immigration status after entry. However, US Immigration regulation allows the change of status application if the immigration status holder changes his or her plan in the United States, such as receiving a job offer that requires immediate start.
Tip number 2: You should know what are the requirements for the type of work permit you wish to apply after entering the United States.
The US government offers work permission to many different categories of workers coming to the United States. These categories include scholars, researcher, professional worker with college degree or above, outstanding artists and musicians, information technology specialists. You will notice that most of these categories require the applicant to be highly proficient in their field of work, either through the training in college or universities, or through many years of work experience. Therefore, it is often tough for people in the beginning of their career to qualify for a work permit.
Each work permit category also comes with its own individual set of requirements for the applicant. For scholars and research professionals, for example, a detailed resume or curriculum vitae will be required and letters from past employment to establish work experience. For artists and musicians, similarly, a complete portfolio with notable projects that the artists have contributed or participated in will have to be prepared to establish that the artist qualify for a work permit in the United States.
Because of the various requirements for the work permit, it is very important for you to learn the qualifications for the type of work permission that you intend to apply in the United States. First, you should categorize yourself as an academic professional, private sector professional or an artists who will work in the entertainment field, and then schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney to figure out the exact requirements.
Tip number 3: You should know that even as international student on an F-1 visa status, you can still work on campus for less than 19 hours a week.
If you wish to finish your education in the United States before you look for employment, you should know that even international students can apply for a work permit under circumstances. First, they can apply for a work permit and social security number if they are offered a job on-campus. Second, students can request a work permit from USCIS if they run into unforeseeable problems that will temporarily cut off their financial support and would require them to find a job to overcome the temporary financial hardship. Third, international students are generally qualified for one year of work permit after graduation, also known as the Optional Practical Training (OPT) so that the students can stay in the United States to gain work experience for a year.
There are more options for international students in the United States to work permit application, and as a result many people who plan to work in the United States come to the United States first as an international student and pave the way for future work permit application.
Tip number 4: You should know that work permit application can sometimes come from family relationships in the United States.
The fastest way to apply for a work permit in the United States is through marriage to a US citizen. US immigration and visa regulations requires US Citizenship and Immigration Services to make a work permit for spouse of US citizen after the applicant submits the application for adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is an application process that foreign spouse go through in the United States to receive permanent resident status. To allow the spouse to start working while waiting for the green card application to be approved by the adjudicating agency.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen and interested in adjusting your status to a Green Card holder you may apply for work authorization. Please read more here.
It is important to note that the work permit application is possible only if the other spouse is a US citizen. If you become married to a green card holder, oftentimes you will be required to return home and wait for the immigrant visa, and a work permit will not be given to you. This is also true with other types of family based petitions, such as when a parent petitions a son or daughter above the age of 21, or siblings who petition each other. Also, if you want to file for a work permit in the United States based on marriage, it is required that you enter the United States legally with a visa and be able to submit evidence of the legal entry.
Tip number 5: You should know that you can apply for a work permit in the United States if you are fleeing persecution from your home country and have resettled in the United States.
United States government provides political asylum application for people who are fleeing persecution from their home country because of their religion, race, social group, ethnicity and political opinion. Political asylum can be requested either from within the United States, after the applicant has successfully entered the United States or from the border if the applicant does not possess a valid visa to enter the United States. If political asylum is requested at the border, the applicant will have to be detained by Custom & Border Patrol (CBP) for up to 30 days to determine whether the asylum applicant indeed possess credible fear of returning to home country.
After political asylum application is submitted, the applicant will receive a work permit within 180 days so that the applicant can stat working and saving money for the legal process. It is important to note that asylum application is not suitable, generally speaking, for applicants who come from countries that have relatively stable government, such as countries in European countries, Canada, Asian countries except China. The asylum application is suitable for people who come from countries with repressive government regimes, such as Russia and China, and countries where religious turmoils ruin lives and the government cannot help them.
For additional information on working in the United States and the topics listed above, contact our experienced U.S. immigration attorney for a FREE consultation. Located in Los Angeles, our immigration lawyer has helped hundreds of clients successfully obtain various work visas across the United States and around the world.