Work Visa

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FAQ

Overview

If you want to work in the U.S. temporarily as a nonimmigrant, under U.S. immigration law, you need a specific visa based on the type of work you will be doing. Most temporary worker categories require that your prospective employer or agent file a petition, which must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States before you can apply for a work visa.

All applicants for H, L, O, P and Q visas must have a petition approved on their behalf by USCIS. The petition, Form I-129, must be approved before you can apply for a work visa at the American Institute in Taiwan. When your petition is approved, your employer or agent will receive a Notice of Action, Form I-797, which serves as your petition's approval notification. The consular officer will verify your petition approval through the Department of State's Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) during your interview.

You must bring your I-129 petition receipt number to your interview at the American Institute in Taiwan in order to verify your petition's approval. Please note that approval of a petition does not guarantee issuance of a visa if you are found to be ineligible for a visa under U.S. immigration law.

Visa Descriptions and Qualifications

H-1B (specialty occupation)

An H-1B visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform services in a pre-arranged professional job. To qualify, you must hold a bachelor's or higher degree (or an equivalent degree) in the specific specialty for which you seek employment. USCIS will determine whether your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and whether you are qualified to perform the services. Your employer is required file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor concerning the terms and conditions of its contract of employment with you.

H-1B1 (Free Trade Agreement professional)
Free trade agreements signed with Chile and Singapore permit qualified Chilean and Singaporean citizens to temporarily work in the United States in certain circumstances. Only Chilean and Singaporean citizens are eligible as principal applicants, although their spouses and children may be nationals of other countries.

Applicants for H-1B1 visas should already have a job offer from an employer in their chosen work area in the United States, but the employer does not have to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and the applicant does not need to obtain a Notice of Approval, Form I-797 form before submitting the visa application. However, the employer does need to file an Application for Foreign Labor Certification with the Department of Labor prior to applying for the visa.  For more information on the H-1B1 visa, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/employment/temporary.html

H-2A (temporary agricultural workers)

An H-2A visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which U.S. workers are not available. An H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to you if you seek to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States on a temporary basis. A U.S. employer (or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer) must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on your behalf.

H-2B visa (temporary non-agricultural workers)

This visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform a job which is temporary or seasonal in nature and for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. Your employer is required to obtain a Department of Labor certification confirming that there are no qualified U.S. workers eligible for the type of employment on which your petition is based.

H-3 (trainee)

An H-3 visa is required if you are coming to the United States to receive training from an employer in any field of endeavor, other than graduate education or training, for a period of up to two years. You can be paid for your training and "hands-on" work is authorized. Training cannot be used to provide productive employment and cannot be available in your home country.

H-4 (dependent)

If you are the principal holder of a valid H visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may receive an H-4 visa to accompany you to the United States. However, your spouse/children are not permitted to work while in the United States.

L-1 (intra-company transferee)

An L-1 visa is required if you are the employee of an international company which is temporarily transferring you to a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the same company in the United States. The international company may be either a U.S. or foreign organization. To qualify for an L-1 visa, you must be at the managerial or executive level, or have specialized knowledge and be destined to a position within the U.S. company at either of these levels, although not necessarily in the same position as held previously. In addition, you must have been employed outside the United States with the international company continuously for one year within the three years preceding your application for admission into the United States. You may only apply for an L-1 visa after your U.S. company or affiliate has received an approved petition from USCIS, either on a "blanket" or individual basis. 

L-2 (dependent)

If you are the principal holder of a valid L visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may receive this derivative visa. Due to a recent change in the law, your spouse may seek employment authorization. Your spouse must enter the United States on his or her own L-2 visa and then submit a completed Form I-765 (obtainable from USCIS), along with an application fee. Your children are not authorized to work in the United States. 

O (individual with extraordinary ability or achievement)

Class O visas are issued to people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production, and their essential support personnel. 

P (athlete, artist, entertainer)

Class P visas are issued to certain athletes, entertainers, artists and essential support personnel who are coming to perform in the United States.

All foreign performers, entertainers, and their technical assistants require an approved work petition from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prior to applying for visas to engage in live performances or production of recorded entertainment material (films and video productions). The process for filing work petitions for performers, entertainers, and their technical assistants is complex. The American Institute in Taiwan recommends that the promoter, sponsor, or producer of performances or entertainment productions in the United States seek expert counsel from an attorney who has experience in obtaining visa petition approval for members of the entertainment professions. Depending on the circumstances of the project at hand, work petitions may be appropriate.

Many American and local organizations mistakenly believe that advance petition approval is not required if the sponsoring organization has non-profit status, if no tickets will be sold, or if the performers will not be remunerated. This is not correct. There are only three circumstances under which foreigners may perform in the U.S. without an approved work petition:

  • Amateur performers do not require work petitions from USCIS and are free to perform while in B visitor status. Amateur performers will generally have a type of principal employment, occupation, or studies which is unrelated to their side interest in performing. Amateurs by definition must not be remunerated beyond expenses for their performances. Please note that in many cases children must be considered as professional performers, especially if they are full time students at schools that are funded in large part through ticket sales.
  • Cultural propaganda performances do not require work petitions from USCIS if the performances are completely funded by the central government of a foreign country for the purpose of introducing its culture to audiences in the United States. For B-class visitor visas to be used, the performers must not be remunerated from any U.S. source, no U.S. sponsor, facilitator, or promoter can be involved in the production, no tickets can be sold, and 100 percent of the expense must be borne by the central government of the sending country. If the production has an American co-sponsor, then this exception does not apply and a petition from USCIS is required.
  • Foreign musicians may record audio performances at U.S. recording studios staffed by U.S. citizens and residents as B-class visitors without any USCIS petition, provided that the recording will be distributed and sold only outside the United States; and no public performances will be given..

Q (participant in an international cultural exchange program)

A Q visa is required if you are traveling to the United States to participate in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country. You must have a petition filed on your behalf by the program sponsor and the petition must be approved by USCIS.

When to Apply

The American Institute in Taiwan may accept applications for an H, L, O, P, or Q visa up to 90 days in advance of applicants’ beginning of employment status as noted on the Form I-797, Notice of Action.  These applicants (except for H-2A and L applicants) can only use the visa to apply for U.S. entry starting ten days before the beginning of the approved status period noted on their Form I-797.  H-2A applicants may apply to enter up to one week before the beginning of the approved period.  L applicants may apply to enter only during the period their approved petition is valid.

Application Items

If you apply for an H, L, O, P, or Q visa, you must submit the following:  

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form confirmation page. Visit the DS-160 web page for more information about the DS-160.
  • A valid passport. Most visa applicants must have a passport valid for at least 6 months past the date of their anticipated departure from the United States.  Taiwan passport holders and passport holders from certain countries may enter the United States with passports that will expire in less than 6 months.  However, they will not be permitted to remain in the U.S. beyond the validity of their passports.
  • All previous passports - If your previous passports are lost or stolen, you must provide AIT with a Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates (from 1983 to present).  To obtain a Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates, please visit the Taiwan National Immigration Agency’s website for details.  If you have reported for passport lost, please also provide the police report.
  • One color photograph (5cmx5cm) taken within the last six months with a white or off-white background. Starting November 1, 2016, eyeglasses will no longer be allowed in visa photos. This web page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$190 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee paid in local currency. This web page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State's website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.( AIT strongly advises all customers to bring cash, as our system does not always accommodate credit card transactions. Thank you.)
  • An interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service.
  • If you have legally changed your name, please bring your most recent Taiwan Household Registration Record (with detailed notes). If you are not a Taiwan resident, please bring your Taiwan Alien Resident Certificate or your Taiwan visa information.
  • Applicants in scientific fields, or with technical and scientific backgrounds, may be required to provide additional documents.  See the Administrative Processing webpage for details. 
  • If you have been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, please bring the police record or court documents to your interview.  (If the original record was not written in English, please also provide an English translation.)  Please also provide a Taiwan Police Criminal Record Certificate regardless of where you were arrested or convicted.
  • If you have abandoned your U.S. lawful permanent resident status (or green card), please provide proof of abandonment.
  • If you are an L-1 applicant on a blanket petition, you must pay a fraud prevention and detection fee (more information about this fee is here). ( AIT strongly advises all customers to bring cash, as our system does not always accommodate credit card transactions. Thank you.)
  • The receipt number printed on your approved I-129 petition or I-797 notice of action. 

You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.  

How to Apply

Step 1

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

Step 2

Pay the visa application fee.

Step 3

Schedule your appointment on this web page. You need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment:

  • Your passport number
  • The receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt. (Click here if you need help finding this number.)
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page

Step 4

Visit the American Institute in Taiwan on the date and time of your visa interview.  You must bring all the application items listed above. Applicants will not be allowed to enter the American Institute in Taiwan without these documents.  Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.

Supporting Documents

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the American Institute in Taiwan in a sealed envelope. The American Institute in Taiwan will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

If you are a first time visa applicant, you may save time by bringing the following documents to your interview:

  • Evidence that establishes your job qualifications, including any university diplomas.
  • Original letters from current and previous employers detailing your position and projects you worked on and how long you worked with your employers.
  • If you are currently working and holding H-1B status, please submit your pay slips for the current calendar year and your Federal tax returns (IRS Form 1040 and W-2) for all the years in which you have been employed in the United States. You should bring:
    • pay slips from your current or most recent place of employment
    • the names and current phone numbers of the personnel managers at your present and previous places of employment
    • your resume or CV

Dependents

Your dependents should bring all required documents for any nonimmigrant visa, plus:

  • Dependent spouse or child should provide proof of their relationship to the principal applicant such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate or household registration.
  • A letter from your employer confirming your continued employment
  • If the spouse or child must apply separately with the principal applicant at a later time, they should bring a copy of the principal applicant’s visa and the receipt number listed on the principal applicant’s approved I-129 petition or I-797 notice of action.
  • If your spouse is currently working in the United States on an H1-B visa, his or her pay slips for the current calendar year and federal tax returns (IRS Form 1040 and W-2s) for all the years in which he or she has been employed in the United States on the H-1B visa.

More Information

For more information about H, L, O, P and, Q visas, visit the Department of State's Temporary Workers webpage.