Can I Change My Tourist Visa to a Work Visa?

Of all the ways for a foreign national to enter the United States, a tourist visa is among the easiest and most accessible methods, especially if you’re from a country with a low visa rejection rate. The tourist visa allows entry to the country for a temporary period – usually just six months — usually for business purposes such as attending conferences, negotiating contracts, or consulting with business associates, or for tourism, pleasure, receiving medical treatment, or visiting with family and friends. These visas are applied for and issued for an explicitly stated purpose, and tourist visa holders are generally not allowed to earn or generate income during their stay, but that does not mean that you can’t apply to change the tourist visa to a work visa.

If you’re in the U.S. on a tourist visa and you’re offered a job or are invited to participate in a business venture, your first step would be to check your status to see whether you’re eligible to do so. There are several different types of work visas and each has its own specific requirements Some need you to prove that you have the qualifications described to meet a job description and others require you to show that you’ve received either a job offer, sponsorship, or both.

Once you’ve determined that you’re eligible, you’ll need to fill out and submit a visa application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This means filling out the appropriate forms and sending them in along with all of the required documentation and fees. Once that’s completed, you’ll need to wait for the review process to run its course, responding to requests for interviews, medical exams, or any other type of additional submissions that USCIS asks for.

Eventually, you’ll receive notice that your application has either been approved or denied. Be aware that the Notice of Approval does not represent an actual visa. You’ll still have to wait for the actual visa to be processed. The amount of time that this takes can vary based on your nationality, the exact type of work visa you’ve applied for, the workload at USCIS, and even the time of year.

For assistance with this complex process, contact our experienced immigration attorneys today.