How Long Does It Take to Get a Work Visa In USA?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Work Visa, USA?

If you are planning to work in the United States, you may be wondering how long it takes to get a work visa.

Factors affecting work visa processing: visa type, country of origin, skill demand, and U.S. immigration processing times.

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Work Visa | photo courtesy | Twitter


In this article, we will provide you with an overview of the different types of work visas for the U.S., their requirements, costs, and processing times.

We will also give you some tips on how to speed up your application and avoid common pitfalls.

Types of Work Visas for the U.S.

The U.S. offers a variety of work visas for foreign nationals who want to work temporarily or permanently in the country.

Some of the most common work visas are:

H-1B visa

This is a temporary work visa for people who work in specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s degree or higher and have a job offer from a U.S. employer.

The annual cap for this visa is 85,000, and the selection is based on a lottery system.

L-1 visa

This is a temporary work visa for employees who work for foreign companies that have affiliates or subsidiaries in the U.S.

The employee must have worked for the foreign company for at least one year in the past three years and be transferred to a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position in the U.S.

O-1 visa

This is a temporary work visa for people who have extraordinary abilities or achievements in the fields of science, art, education, business, or athletics.

The applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. employer or agent and demonstrate that they have received national or international recognition for their work.

E-1/E-2 visa

These are temporary work visas for treaty traders and treaty investors who engage in substantial trade or investment between their country and the U.S.

The applicant must be a national of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S.

K-1 visa

This is a temporary work visa for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens who intend to marry within 90 days of entering the U.S.

The applicant must have met their U.S. citizen partner in person within the past two years and prove that they have a genuine relationship.

TN/TD visa

These are temporary work visas for professionals from Canada and Mexico who qualify under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. employer in one of the designated professions and meet the minimum education and experience requirements.

T/U visa

These are temporary work visas for victims of human trafficking (T visa) or certain crimes (U visa) who cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the perpetrators.

The applicant must demonstrate that they have suffered substantial physical or mental harm as a result of the crime and meet other eligibility criteria.

In addition to these visas, there are also other types of work visas for specific purposes, such as seasonal workers, exchange visitors, religious workers, athletes, entertainers, journalists, diplomats, and others.

Requirements for Work Visas

The requirements for each type of work visa vary depending on the category and purpose of your employment. However, some of the common requirements include:

  • A valid passport with at least six months of validity beyond your intended stay in the U.S.
  • A completed online nonimmigrant visa application form (DS-160) with a recent photo
  • A confirmation page with a barcode from your DS-160 form
  • A receipt showing that you have paid the nonrefundable visa application fee ($190 for most work visas)
  • A petition approval notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if your employer or agent has filed a petition on your behalf
  • A job offer letter or contract from your U.S. employer or agent detailing your position, salary, duties, and duration of employment
  • Evidence of your qualifications, such as diplomas, certificates, transcripts, licenses, awards, publications, etc.
  • Evidence of your ties to your home country, such as family, property, bank accounts, etc., to show that you intend to return after your authorized stay
  • Additional documents may be required depending on your specific circumstances and visa category

Costs for Work Visas

The costs for applying for a work visa include:

  • The nonrefundable visa application fee ($190 for most work visas)
  • The petition filing fee (if applicable) paid by your employer or agent to USCIS ($460-$4,000 depending on the type of petition)
  • The reciprocity fee (if applicable) paid by certain nationals based on their country’s relationship with the U.S. (varies by country and visa type)
  • The SEVIS fee (if applicable) paid by students and exchange visitors to support the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System ($200-$350 depending on the program)
  • The visa issuance fee (if applicable) paid by certain nationals based on their country’s relationship with the U.S. (varies by country and visa type)
  • The travel and accommodation expenses for attending the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate

Processing Times for Work Visas

The processing times for work visas depend on several factors, such as:

  • The type of work visa you are applying for
  • The country you are applying from
  • The demand for your skills and the availability of visas
  • The workload and efficiency of the USCIS and the U.S. embassy or consulate
  • The completeness and accuracy of your application and supporting documents
  • The security checks and background screening of your application

The average processing time for a work visa can range from a few weeks to several months or even years.

You can check the current processing times for different types of work visas on the USCIS website and the U.S. Department of State website.

Tips to Speed Up Your Work Visa Application

Minimize work visa processing time by taking steps to hasten application and prevent avoidable delays.

Such as:

  • Plan ahead and apply as early as possible, preferably at least three to six months before your intended start date of employment
  • Choose the right type of work visa that matches your qualifications, skills, and purpose of employment
  • Gather all the required documents and evidence in advance and make sure they are complete, accurate, and up-to-date
  • Follow the instructions carefully and fill out the online application form (DS-160) correctly and completely
  • Pay the fees promptly and keep the receipts for proof of payment
  • Schedule your visa interview as soon as possible after receiving your petition approval notice or confirmation page
  • Prepare well for your visa interview and bring all the original documents and copies with you
  • Be honest, polite, and confident during your visa interview and answer all the questions clearly and concisely
  • Check your visa status regularly online or by phone or email and respond to any requests for additional information or documents promptly


Work visa for the U.S. is complex but rewarding. Know visa types, requirements, costs, and processing times to choose wisely and prepare well.

Follow tips to speed up and succeed.

Contact us for questions.

Best wishes on your U.S. work journey.


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