If you want to work in the U.S. temporarily as a nonimmigrant, under U.S. immigration law, you need a specific visa based on the type of work you will be doing. Most temporary worker categories require that your prospective employer or agent file a petition, which must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States before you can apply for a work visa.
All applicants for H, L, O, P and Q visas must have a petition approved on their behalf by US VISA FOR New Zealand Citizens. The petition, Form I-129, must be approved before you can apply for a work visa at the Consulate. When your petition is approved, your employer or agent will receive a Notice of Action, Form I-797, which serves as your petition’s approval notification. The consular officer will verify your petition approval through the Department of State’s Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) during your interview.
You must bring your I-129 petition receipt number to your interview at the Consulate in order to verify your petition’s approval. Please note that approval of a petition does not guarantee issuance of a visa if you are found to be ineligible for a visa under U.S. immigration law.
Waiver of Interview Requirement
Effective January 1, 2022 the State Department has authorized a waiver of the interview requirement for many foreign nationals applying in the H, L, O, P, and Q visa categories. If you are applying in one of these petition-based visa categories, you may be exempt from the interview requirement and eligible to send in your application through the mail. This process is efficient and easy and allows processing of your case in 2-3 weeks. You may use this service if you meet these requirements:
- New Zealand is your country of residence.
- You are currently present in New Zealand.
- You have been to the United States previously, either on ESTA or on a U.S. visa of any type.
- You have never been refused a visa, unless that visa was subsequently overcome (i.e. you were refused, but applied again and were issued).
- You have no apparent or potential ineligibility due to a previous crime.
If you meet the above conditions, you do not need to request an interview appointment. Login to your profile and respond to the questions as prompted. Please read and respond accordingly to the interview waiver eligibility questions at Step 7. If you qualify for visa application via interview waiver, you will be routed to the Interview US VISA FOR Poland Citizens Confirmation letter page. Print and read the letter for mailing instructions.
Cases are generally processed between 10 and 15 business days AFTER the Consular officer has reviewed the application package.
You will need to provide:
- your passport and any previous passports in your possession
- your DS-160 confirmation page with barcode
- your interview waiver confirmation letter
- approved I-797 petition, if applicable
- a new, U.S.-size passport photo: 5cm x 5cm, no glasses, white background, looking forward, taken within the last week
- pre-paid self-addressed courier envelope, with tracking, so we can mail back your documents
- if you are a dependent (spouse/child), we need the original birth certificate (children) and/or marriage certificate of dependent applicants, as well as a copy of the principal applicant’s visa, all of which will be returned
- Issuance fee, if applicable.
The use of the mail-in service does not guarantee visa issuance. In some cases, a consular officer may determine that an applicant may still be required to appear for an interview at the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland.
A business day is defined as a day between Monday and Friday (excluding U.S. and New Zealand public holidays observed in Auckland).
Visa Descriptions and Qualifications
H-1B (specialty occupation)
An H-1B visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform services in a pre-arranged professional job. To qualify, you must hold a bachelor’s or higher degree (or an equivalent degree) in the specific specialty for which you seek employment. USCIS will determine whether your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and whether you are qualified to perform the services. Your employer is required file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor concerning the terms and conditions of its contract of employment with you.
H-1B1 Treaty-based Temporary Work Visas
Free trade agreements signed with Chile and Singapore permit qualified Chilean and Singaporean citizens to temporarily work in the United States in certain circumstances. Only Chilean and Singaporean citizens are eligible as principal applicants, although their spouses and children may be nationals of other countries.
Applicants for H-1B1 visas should already have a job offer from an employer in their chosen work area in the United States, but the employer does not have to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and the applicant does not need to obtain a Notice of Approval, Form I-797 form before submitting the visa application. However, the petitioner does need to file an Application for Foreign Labor Certification with the Department of Labor prior to applying for the visa. For more information on the H-1B1 visa, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/temporary-worker-visas.html
H-2A (seasonal agricultural workers)
An H-2A visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which U.S. workers are not available. An H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to you if you seek to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States on a temporary basis. A U.S. employer (or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer) must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on your behalf.
H-2B visa (skilled and unskilled workers)
This visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform a job which is temporary or seasonal in nature and for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. Your employer is required to obtain a Department of Labor certification confirming that there are no qualified U.S. workers eligible for the type of employment on which your petition is based.
An H-3 visa is required if you are coming to the United States to receive training from an employer in any field of endeavor, other than graduate education or training, for a period of up to two years. You can be paid for your training and “hands-on” work is authorized. Training cannot be used to provide productive employment and cannot be available in your home country.
If you are the principal holder of a valid H visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may receive an H-4 visa to accompany you to the United States. However, your spouse/children are not permitted to work while in the United States.
L-1 (intra-company transferees)
An L-1 visa is required if you are the employee of an international company which is temporarily transferring you to a parent branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the same company in the United States. The international company may be either a U.S. or foreign organization. To qualify for an L-1 visa, you must be at the managerial or executive level, or have specialized knowledge and be destined to a position within the U.S. company at either of these levels, although not necessarily in the same position as held previously. In addition, you must have been employed outside the United States with the international company continuously for one year within the three years preceding your application for admission into the United States. You may only apply for an L-1 visa after your U.S. company or affiliate has received an approved petition from USCIS, either on a “blanket” or individual basis.
If you are the principal holder of a valid L visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may receive this derivative visa. Due to a recent change in the law, your spouse may seek employment authorization. Your spouse must enter the United States on his/her own L-2 visa and then submit a completed Form I-765 (obtainable from USCIS), along with an application fee. Your children are not authorized to work in the United States.
Type O visas are issued to people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production, and their essential support personnel.
P (artists, entertainers)
Type P visas are issued to certain athletes, entertainers, artists and essential support personnel who are coming to perform in the United States.
A Q visa is required if you are traveling to the United States to participate in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country. You must have a petition filed on your behalf by the program sponsor and the petition must be approved by USCIS.
When to Apply
The Consulate may process your H, L, O, P or Q visa application up to 90 days prior to the beginning of employment status as noted on your I-797. However, when making your travel plans, please note that due to Federal regulations, you can only use the visa to apply for entry to the United States starting ten days prior to the beginning of the approved status period noted on your I-797.