Numerous individuals who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents are legally allowed to work in the U.S. as long as they have the correct visas.
Employers should ensure that hiring staffs are well-educated on all manner of documents permitting people to work in the U.S. legally. While these individuals are not expected to know the documents so well that they can discern between well-constructed fakes and the real things, they should have a general idea of whether a visa appears real. An obviously fake visa being accepted, or one that appears real getting denied, are both grounds for investigation and possibly a fine. Below is a list of the various visas distributed by the U.S. government, and which professions they allow holders to legally apply for:
"Employers should have a general idea of whether a visa appears real."
This is one of the more common non-immigrant work visas distributed by the government. H-1B visas are reserved for occupations that require specialized knowledge of a specific subject. Often individuals with these documents work in the science or technology fields. H-1B visa-holders typically have a bachelor's degree or higher in one of these specialty fields. These work permits also allow for extensive stretches of employment - up to six years if renewed.
If an employee transfers from a foreign country to a another branch of his or her company, or a subsidiary, affiliate, branch or joint venture, than that individual will receive this non-immigrant visa for work authorization. L-1 visa-holders are typically managers, executives or individuals with specialized knowledge. For managers and executives, the work permit may last up to seven years, while for individuals with specialized knowledge it is limited to five, according to workpermit.com.
This work permit is designated for countries with treaties with the U.S., typically those involving some sort of trade deal. Individuals who come to the country for investment or trade responsibilities are given this visa for the duration of their employment in the U.S. The visa, specifically, is for individuals who are in the U.S. to carry on significant trade efforts or manage an entity in which he or she has invested substantially.
The North American Free Trade Agreement created certain allowances for exchanging workers between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The TN-visa exists for this purpose. With this work permit Canadian and Mexican citizens have temporary non-immigrant work privileges if the job is on this list of acceptable professions. Acceptable TN-visa occupations are accountant, pharmacist, lawyer, teacher, engineer and scientist, among others.
These work permits are reserved for participants of exchange and study arrangements. Employers apply to one of the various programs that allow foreign nationals to work or study in the U.S. Employers typically won't come across this permit unless they applied for to engage in the J-1 visa program. For this reason, if you come across one of these work permits during the hiring process make sure to confirm whether the company has applied to participate in the program.
There are other work permits distributed by the government but these are some of the more common ones. Hiring managers and their staff should be aware of these, as well as other common work authorization documents such as permanent resident cards and social security cards for immigrants. Knowing these materials well could be the difference between a Department of Justice investigation and a compliant hiring process.