Working permits, Visas, and Greencards

Green Card Lottery

A green card gives you the chance to live and work in the United States. It also the first step towards U.S. citizenship that could open up a world of opportunities. Each year 55,000 greencards are given out to people around the world.

  More info: How to get a greencard?

OPT Visas - Work after college

If you already studied in the US and graduated, then you can apply for a 1-year work permit, also known as OPT (Optional Practical Training). It means, you will have one year to find a company that is willing to sponsor your work permit (H1-B working visa).


H1-B Visas - Six year work permit

A H1-B work permit is valid for 6 years (needs to be renewed after 3 years) and is only valid for the company that hired you. If you do find a new job, it is possible to transfer your H1-B visa to your new employer. If you are planning to stay in the USA for a long time, then you must at some point apply for a Green Card. The Green Card application process will often take 2 years, and for certain countries even longer. It means that you should start applying for a Green Card two years before your H1-B working visa will expire.

If you have not studied in the USA, you will still have to find a company willing to sponsor your H1-B work permit to be allowed to work in the United States. Since you did not study in the United States, you will not be able to use the OPT visa (discussed above) to get into your first company. It is usually easaier to use the OPT visa the first year and show the company what you can do. They are then often more willing to sponsor your H1-B.

For American companies it is easier and often less costly to hire a US citizen.There are several reasons:

  1. More paperwork for the company
  2. The company often hires a lawyer to process the H1-B application. This usually cost around $5,000 total
  3. It is more difficult to determine what your education and work experience is worth if it is outside United States. The company might believe that it is a risk sponsoring you if you have not worked in the United States before
  4. Many more restrictions about how much or how little a H1-B worker is allowed to do. As a H1-B employee, you need to work fulltime. For instance, the company can therefore not ask you to work part-time if the company is not doing well and needs to cut expenses.

J1 Visas - Internships or temporary work

A J-1 visa is a temporary working visa, usually issued to young people doing an Internship, traineeship or other temporary job. If you already have contact with a company in the USA and you only plan to work there for one year, a J-1 visa may be the easiest solution for you.This could also be a good way to convince a company to sponsor your H1-B visa if you are interested in staying longer!

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