A U.S. work visa is a highly sought after visa opportunity that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Nigerian applicants can gain a work permit by applying for one of two types of visas: a non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a Permanent US Work Visa?
Each work visa application requires different documentation, and each applicant has a unique circumstance so may require other documents that are not listed below. However, in general, if you are applying from Nigeria, you will be required to submit the following documents:
- Certificate of Birth or Adoption Certificate
- Marriage or Divorce Certificates, if applicable
- Nigerian National Identity Card
- Any police, court, or prison records, if applicable
- Military records, if applicable
- Your current valid passport or other valid travel document
- Education credentials and relevant qualifications according to the visa you are applying for.
How Much Does a Permanent US Work Visa Cost?
The application fees are shown below and apply to one visa application. The application fee for the most common nonimmigrant visa types is $185. This includes tourist, business, student and exchange visas. Most petition-based visas, such as work and religious visas, are $190. K visas cost $265 and the fee amount for E visas is $205. Please note that visa fees for K applicants must be made at GT Bank. The tables below are a more comprehensive list of visa types and fee amounts. Following the tables is a short list of nonimmigrant visas which do not require payment of an application fee.
Visa Types and Conditions with No Fee Required
- Applicants for A, G, C-2, C-3, NATO, and diplomatic visas (as defined in 22 CFR 41.26)
- Applicants holding J visas and who are participating in certain official U.S. Government-sponsored educational and cultural exchanges
- Replacement of a machine-readable visa when the original visa was not properly affixed or the visa needs to be reissued through no fault of the applicant
- Applicants exempted by international agreement, including members and staff of an observer mission to United Nations Headquarters recognized by the UN General Assembly, and their immediate families
- Applicants traveling to provide certain charitable services
- U.S. Government employees traveling on official business
- A parent, sibling, spouse or child of a U.S. Government employee killed in the line of duty who is traveling to attend the employee’s funeral and/or burial; or a parent, sibling, spouse, son or daughter of a U.S. Government employee critically injured in the line of duty for visitation during emergency treatment and convalescence
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an Internet-based system that tracks F, M and J visa participants (and their family members) from the time they receive their initial documentation (either an I-20 or a DS-2019) until they graduate/leave school or conclude/leave program.
F, M and J visa principal applicants: Check with your U.S. school to make sure your information has been entered into SEVIS. You will need to pay a separate SEVIS fee in addition to the visa application fee. For nonimmigrant students with Form I-20, the SEVIS fee is US$350. For most exchange visitors with Form DS-2019, the SEVIS fee is US$220. Instructions for paying the SEVIS fee can be found SEVIS Fee Processing Website .
SEVIS Fee Exception
Applicants participating in a U.S. Government sponsored program (programs whose codes begin with G-1, G-2, G-3, G-7) are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.
Blanket L Fee (Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee)
First-time principal applicants who are covered under a blanket petition for L status must pay a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of US $500. This fee should be paid in cash to the cashier at the Consular Section on the day of the interview. If a subsequent L-1 visa application is based on a new Form I-129S, the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee must be collected again.
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How To Get a US Work Visa – Step-by-Step
Obtaining a work visa can be a complicated process, and several steps must be completed before, during, and after the visa process.
Before Applying for a Visa
A foreign national and their potential employer must meet three requirements before even applying for a work visa. If they do not meet all three, the visa application can be denied.
- Job Offer. A foreign national who wishes to work in the United States temporarily must have first applied for and received an offer for a job in the United States.
- Petition by Employer. Once a foreign national has been offered a job, the potential employer must file a petition on their behalf. Employers must submit a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Work to the USCIS. Without an approved petition, a person cannot even begin the application process for a work visa. Even with an approved petition, a work visa is not guaranteed.
- Approval by the Department of Labor. The following work visas require that the employer receive a certificate from the DOL before submitting their petition:
The certificate from the DOL proves that the employer needs foreign workers and is unable to fill the open position with a worker from the United States.
Visa applications can be made from inside the U.S. or abroad. You can apply through the U.S Consulate in Lagos if you are applying from Nigeria.
Usually, a sponsor or family member must file the application on your behalf, unless you are considered able to petition on your own behalf (this is often offered to investors, for example). The application must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Permanent Work Visa USA – Apply from Nigeria
Permanent work visas are offered to foreign nationals who wish to work and live in the United States on a permanent basis. Permanent Work visas are available under the immigrant visa route, and make you eligible to apply for a U.S. Green Card (permanent residence).
Understanding which visa is right for you can be very complicated, especially if you are applying from abroad. IAS are here to help.
You will be required to follow these steps:
- Submit a Petition for USCIS approval
- Await NVC Processing
- Pay Fees
- Have your sponsor sign an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), which accepts financial responsibility for the applicant
- Submit Financial Documents
- Complete the Online Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260)
- Collect civil documents
- Scan documents
- Submit documents
- Prepare for your interview
- Attend applicant interview
- Wait for the decision
Applying for a visa in the USA can be overwhelming, as it can be difficult to know if you are choosing the right visa for your personal needs. It can also be complicated if you are struggling to access certain documents, or if you have previous criminal convictions.