Employment-based nonimmigrant visas are granted to eligible foreign nationals who intend to work in the United States on a temporary, nonpermanent basis.
In many circumstances, employees who are applying to enter the U.S. to work based on a temporary nonimmigrant classification must complete an interview at an embassy or consulate to receive a valid visa stamp.
Below are further details regarding the employment-based nonimmigrant visa process as well as information about what to bring to the embassy/consulate interview.
Who needs to have an employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview?
All foreign nationals, except Canadian citizens in most circumstances, who are seeking to enter the U.S. to work via a temporary nonimmigrant employment classification must have a valid visa stamp with the correct classification (H-1B, L-1, O-1, P-1, J-1, etc.).
This visa stamp serves as a travel document and allows the individual to enter the U.S. in the classification indicated on the visa stamp.
Visa stamps are only issued by U.S. consulates and embassies abroad. Therefore, those seeking a visa stamp must apply and attend a visa interview to secure the required visa stamp before traveling to the U.S. There are limited exceptions to the interview requirement.
What to bring to the employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview
- DS-160 confirmation and interview confirmation page: The applicant typically receives these confirmations after completing the DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form and scheduling the visa interview.
- Visa fee receipt: The applicant typically receives the receipt after paying the visa application processing fee. The fee is nonrefundable and non-transferable.
- Current passport
- Previous passports with prior visa stamps, if applicable
- Passport photo
- Education documents: These could include degrees, transcripts, evaluations and/or any other applicable reports.
- Petition filed with United States Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS), if applicable: Specifically, the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
- Original approval notices: Specifically, the Form I-797, Notice of Action.
- Confirmation of Offer of Employment in the U.S. and applicable forms/employer letters, if applicable.
- Ties to home country, if applicable: These specifically apply to TN, F, J and P1 applicants and can include bank statements, proof of home ownership, financial investments, etc.
- Marriage certificates, if applicable: Also, must include a birth certificate for any child who is applying as a dependent of the main applicant.
- Paystubs and/or offer letter, if applicable.
Please note: The above is not an exhaustive list of documents that may be needed for an employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview. Interviews vary on a case-by-case basis. Individuals should consider consulting with experienced immigration counsel to prepare for their employment-based nonimmigrant visa interview.
Expanded interview waivers
Consular officers have authority through Dec. 31, 2023, to waive the in-person interview for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants, international students and temporary workers with an approved USCIS individual petition, who are applying in their home country and meet certain requirements.
Generally, individuals who have previously held a U.S. visa in any category, have never been refused a visa and do not meet any apparent ineligibility criteria may qualify for the waiver. Certain first-time visa applicants who are citizens of a participating Visa Waiver Program country as well as applicants renewing a visa in the same visa classification within 48 months of prior expiration may also be eligible.
Consular officers have the discretion to still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis. Applicants should check consulate websites and consult with experienced immigration counsel to receive specific information regarding their case.