Visa Series: Temporary Employment Visas H,L,O & P

Visa Series: Temporary Employment Visas H,L,O & P

Man in airport


Visa Series: Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. In this case, temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Visa terms are typically approved for 3 years, extendable to 7 years in 2-year increments.

Each of these visas, whether you fit into the H1B, L1, O1, or P1 temporary employment category, requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa.


Some visa categories require your prospective employer to obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor on your behalf before filing the petition with USCIS. Your prospective employer should review the USCIS Instructions for Form I-129 to determine whether labor certification is required.


Some visa types limit the number of annual petition approvals. Before you can apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed on your behalf by a prospective employer and be approved by USCIS. Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send your prospective employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797.


After USCIS approves the petition you may apply for a visa.

There are several steps in the process and may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

  1. Complete the Online Visa Application Form DS-160.
  2. Print the application form confirmation barcode page to bring to your interview.
  3. Upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160.
  4. Schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early.


Pay the visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.


Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States for at least six months beyond your period of stay.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation barcode page.
  • Printed photo if the photo upload to Form DS-160 fails.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Receipt number for your approved petition.
  • Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, from USCIS.
  • L Visa Applicants – bring Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition.


Your spouse and unmarried, minor children may also apply for the same visa category as you to accompany or join you. U.S. Embassies and Consulates recognize opposite gender spouses and same-sex marriages as the same. You must be able to show that you will be able to financially support your family in the United States. If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.

For a complete procedure of these visa types, or other visa types not covered here, please visit the U.S. Department of State website for U.S. Visas.

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