Foreign nationals in Alaska (or any other part of the United States) may apply for several kinds of visas in order to work there. Permanent worker visas allow foreigners to work in America indefinitely. Temporary worker visas allow for a finite stay in this country as an employee of a business. All of these visas have different requirements though many criteria are common. Consult the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for details on the specific visa you should apply for.
Requirements for a Permanent Worker Visa
The USCIS issues about 140,000 visas each year to foreigners (and their families) who would like to immigrate to and live in the U.S. Visa applications are approved or denied at the discretion of the USCIS but certain types of workers will receive preferential consideration according to five categories. First Preference (EB-1) applicants must be persons of “extraordinary ability” in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics. Multinational executives and managers also fall under this category. EB-2 applicants must hold advanced degrees in their professions and/or possess “exceptional ability” in the arts, sciences, or business. The USCIS reserves EB-3 status for professionals and skilled workers. EB-4 preferences are for “special immigrants,” including foreigners who have worked with U.S. government organizations and certain religious workers. EB-5 status is reserved for foreign investors who plan to invest a large amount of money (e.g. between $500,000 and $1,000,000) in a commercial enterprise that will employ at least 10 full-time U.S. citizens.
To be eligible for most visas, temporary and permanent, foreigners must receive an invitation and job offer from a U.S. employer prior to their application. Exceptions to this requirement include EB-1, EB-4, and EB-5 visas as well as EB-2 if the USCIS rules that the presence of the applicant will benefit the national interest of the United States. Also, treaty traders (E-1), treaty investors (E-2), certain “specialty occupation” professionals from Australia (E-3), NAFTA temporary professionals (TN) are also exempt from this requirement.
For a business to make a job offer to a foreigner, it will need to submit a separate petition to the Department of Labor that verifies two conditions: There must be insufficient available, qualified, and/or willing U.S. citizens to fill the position at the prevailing wage, and employing a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers in the same field. Additionally, the employer will need to file the necessary paperwork with the IRS (e.g. W-2) so that the foreign national’s wages will be subject to taxation.
Noel Lawrence has written on cultural affairs and cinema for Release Print and OtherZine since 2000. He holds a graduate degree in Russian literature from Stanford University and currently lives in Los Angeles.