Can you describe the different types of U.S. work visas and how to apply?

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Immigration Law

You have decided to pursue a work visa in the United States and it’s a complicated process to understand. Where should you start?

Learn about your options before applying for a work visa. This guide is designed to help educate. Connecting with an immigration attorney is the most reliable way to have the best experience possible while working through the visa application process.

H1B Visas, H2A Visas, E1 Visas, O1 Visas, and E5 Visas are different categories of U.S. visas, each designed for specific purposes and types of applicants. Here’s a comparison and contrast of these visas in terms of their purpose, eligibility criteria, and other key aspects:


Temporary Work Visas

H1B Visas:

Purpose: H1B visas are for foreign workers in specialty occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field. They are often used in fields like IT, engineering, and healthcare.

Eligibility: Requires an offer of employment from a U.S. employer, and the applicant must possess the necessary educational qualifications and skills for the specific job.

Duration: Usually granted for three years, with the possibility of extension for another three years.

H2A Visas:

Purpose: H2A visas are for temporary agricultural workers who are needed to perform seasonal or temporary agricultural work in the United States.

Eligibility: Applicants must have a job offer from a U.S. employer, and employers must demonstrate a need for foreign labor due to a shortage of available U.S. workers.

Duration: Typically granted for the duration of the specific agricultural season.

E1 Visas:

Purpose: E1 visas are for treaty traders and certain employees from countries that have a qualifying treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. They are used for individuals engaged in substantial international trade.

Eligibility: Requires individuals or businesses to demonstrate that they are involved in a significant volume of international trade with the U.S.

Duration: E1 visas are generally issued for five years, with the possibility of renewal.

O1 Visas:

Purpose: O1 visas are for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in fields such as the arts, sciences, education, athletics, or business.

Eligibility: Applicants must provide evidence of their exceptional achievements, which may include awards, recognition, or a substantial body of work in their field.

Duration: O1 visas can be granted for up to three years, with extensions available.

*please note – many attorneys using ProPrudence to meet new clients have demonstrated great ability in advocating for O1 Visa applicants

E5 Visas (EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visas):

Purpose: EB-5 visas are for immigrant investors who wish to invest a significant amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S., which will create jobs for U.S. workers.

Eligibility: Requires a substantial investment in a qualifying business enterprise and the creation of a specified number of full-time jobs.

Duration: Initially granted as conditional green cards, which can be converted to permanent green cards after certain conditions, such as job creation, are met.


  • Purpose: H1B and H2A visas are non-immigrant visas for temporary workers, while E1, O1, and E5 visas can lead to permanent residency (green card) in the U.S.
  • Eligibility: H1B, H2A, E1, and O1 visas require job offers from U.S. employers, while E5 visas involve an investment in a U.S. business.
  • Duration: H1B, H2A, E1, and O1 visas are typically granted for shorter durations and may be renewable. E5 visas, when successful, lead to permanent residency.
  • Nature of Work: H1B and H2A visas are for temporary employment, E1 visas are for international trade, O1 visas are for individuals with extraordinary abilities, and E5 visas are for investors.
  • Immigration Status: H1B, H2A, E1, and O1 visas are non-immigrant visas, whereas E5 visas are immigrant visas that can lead to permanent residency.

It’s essential to consult the U.S. Department of State or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) websites for the most up-to-date information on these visa categories, as eligibility criteria and requirements can change over time. Consulting with an immigration attorney can be equally as important.