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Knowing the Difference: Work Visa versus Work Permit

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     When it comes to immigration law, there are many different visas, sponsorships and applications a person can file. It is important to familiarize oneself with the variety of applications available to ensure the appropriate forms are being filed for your specific immigration needs. In this blog we will be discussing the differences between a work visa and a work permit! It is vital to note there are key differences between the two, from the qualifications and overall processes involved, each one is as diverse as the other.

     Let’s begin with defining what the purpose of a visa is, regardless of the type. A visa is an official government document issued by a country’s embassy or consulate permitting a foreign national to enter that county for a specific purpose and a set time period. A good example of this is a work visa – it is issued to a foreign national, not native to the United States, so they can legally enter the United States for work purposes. More examples of visas include a student visa, which ensures a person can come into the country for education purposes; a tourist visa, also known as a visitor visa, is so a foreign national can temporarily enter the United States with specific visa regulations for an allotted period of time.

     Of course, these are just a few examples, there are countless more visas and if you’re looking to travel to a foreign country, it is wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure the best possible results! And note, the application process for each visa is vastly different. For the majority of visas, the applicant must file within their own country and receive an approval first, before being allowed to legally enter the United States. It is essential to abide by these immigration law and government regulations for the best results. Should a person illicitly obtain a visa or overstay their specified visa time, there could be severe legal repercussions.

     Now, if we specifically look at work visas, they are typically issued to foreign nationals giving them the opportunity to legally gain entry into a foreign country with the intent of working there. Typically, once a visa is approved, work visas are valid between 1-3 years, sometimes with the possibility of a 2-year extension. The validity times vary depending on the type of visa and any specific circumstances surrounding each individual case. If you are interested in working for a specific company, it is wise to do some research and ensure they will be able to support your visa requirement; this immensely differs from one company to another. Work visas can include, but are not limited to, H1B, H2B, TN, J, J-1, E-visas and L-visas. Each visa applicant must usually file their application through the United States embassy or consulate located within their country and must submit all necessary and correct paperwork in a timely manner. Once the embassy or consulate has reached a decision, they will inform the applicant.

     Work Permits are quite different. A work permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is typically issued only for 2-years, which again, can be subject to change based on each person’s individual and unique case. Generally, with a work permit there are less restrictions than with a visa. A work permit holder can work for any employer, although they do have to be already and currently residing within the United States in order to obtain the permit. A work permit can be issued to an adjustment of status applicant, asylees, refugees, U-visa holders, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) holders and much more! Since work permits are issued within the United States, they are process by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you are living within the United States and are already a United States Citizen, a Permanent Resident or a Green Card holder, you do not need to obtain a work permit.

     No matter what visa or permit a person is applying for, it is important to consult with a practiced immigration lawyer and greatly consider retaining, to ensure all documents are submitted fully and correctly. Each country has their own immigration laws, rules and regulations and it is essential to familiarize and educate oneself prior to filing. Each country goes through a thorough vetting prior to admitting any foreign nationals within its borders, regardless of current visa status, nationality or background. It is crucial to submit all documents fully, completely and truthfully to the best of your knowledge to ensure the best results! Withholding critical information from the government of the country you’re wishing to gain entry to can potentially delay or even deny your application in the long-run.

     If you’re unsure where to begin, you can always turn to The Law Offices of Eugene Mogilevsky, LLC and speak with one of our highly practiced immigration law attorneys! If you would like to schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer, you can contact our office by submitting an online Contact Form at Contact Us | The Law Offices of Eugene Mogilevsky ( or by simply calling our office at (317) 743-7958 and one of our receptionists with be happy to schedule you for an appointment!

Disclaimer: This blog is for education and information purposes only and is not to be taken as legal advice in any capacity. Reading this blog does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship.