For this process, you will certainly need the assistance of your employer or an attorney, and most likely, both. Nevertheless, we will outline the process for you here so that you know where to begin and what to expect.

  • Obtain a Job Offer. The first thing you must have for a temporary work visa is a letter of acceptance. Your employer must furnish you with a piece of correspondence - preferably on corporate letterhead - formally offering you a position with the company. This letter should also contain several other details to assuage the INS. Your employer should note the title of the position and its responsibilities, the salary, the start and end dates, and how many hours a week the position involves. The end date here is particularly important, in light of the INS's constant fear of your overstaying the visa.

  • Fill Out the INS Paperwork. Your employer will then need to fill out an application on an INS Form I-129 petitioning for permission to hire you as a temporary employee. It can be downloaded here: File it with the INS along with a fee of $610. The INS can take many months to process these requests.

  • Use the H Visa. Once you receive your visa, the government will instruct you on the mechanics of activating it, which (if you are already in the United States) may involve leaving the country and visiting a U.S. Embassy abroad. When you travel on an H visa, you will not have an I-20 or an IAP-66, but the INS will furnish you with proof of your visa, and it is always a good idea to carry your employer's letter of acceptance with you.

Please be aware that the intricacies of applying for a temporary work visa are numerous. We have provided you with only an overview of the process here, so that you will be sufficiently informed to begin your application in earnest. A great place to begin, of course, is on the INS website.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW get a visa?