Sponsorship for employment visa status refers to foreign nationals who enter the United States with a work visa. Some companies ask prospective employees this question on an application or during a job interview.
When a citizen from another country applies for employment in the United States, the company may ask whether that individual needs sponsorship for employment visa status. Although the employer may not legally ask about the applicant's visa type, nationality or native language, it may ask about potential sponsorship because only an employer has the ability to apply for an employment visa for its workers.
Understanding Work Visas
In order to work in the United States, foreign nationals need a visa. Spouses and family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents may apply for a residency visa, which gives them the ability to live and work in the country. Others need a work visa that gives them the legal right to temporarily work in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of State, there are several types of work visas available:
- The H1-B1 visa category applies to individuals working in what the government considers specialty occupations, such as accounting, engineering, education and scientific research. Fashion models and those working for Department of Defense projects also qualify for this visa.
- The H2A visa is for seasonal agricultural workers. In order to qualify for this visa, the foreign national must be a citizen of an accepted country.
- Non-agricultural temporary workers may qualify for a H2B visa. As with the H2A visa, these individuals must be from specific countries.
- Those who want to receive work-related training can apply for a H3 visa. This applies to individuals who need specific training unavailable in their own country. This includes training for work with children who have disabilities and excludes medical and dental school.
- P1, P2 and P3 visas are available for athletes, entertainers and artists who have international recognition or perform culturally unique work. Their support staff may also qualify for these visas.
- Employees who have at least one year of experience working for a company as a manager or executive may qualify for a L visa. This lets the employee work at a local branch of the current employee.
- An O visa applies to individuals with extraordinary achievement or ability. This lets them work in the country with their field, which includes business, education, athletics, art and science.
As the name indicates, temporary work visas allow individuals to be in the country for a specified amount of time. They are not residency visas.
How to Apply for a Work Visa
To apply for a work visa, the employer must complete a multi-step process. The first step is to receive an approved application from the U.S. Department of Labor. As soon as the employer has this letter, it may complete the formal petition for the employee. Potential workers fall into one of four preference categories that include priority workers, professionals, skilled workers and special immigrants such as religious workers and certain types of physicians.
The length of time it takes to process and make a decision about the application depends on several factors. First, some categories receive more applications than others. Each work visa category has an annual cap, and USCIS stops processing applications as soon as it reaches that limit. If the application has incomplete sections, USCIS returns it to the employer, and this slows the process. Failing to pay the required visa fees has the same effect.