Work Visa Options for Architects

The architect profession requires an advanced degree and significant skills to be successful. With the expansive amount of new construction and remodeling in the United States on a regular basis, it can be challenging to find American citizens who fit the requirements of the job and are open to working for a particular company, requiring those employers to reach out to overseas countries for help. As a foreign worker in this occupation, you’ll need a visa to accept a job offer. Here are the options you have to move your profession into the US job market and what you should know before taking another step forward along this journey.

Starting With the Job Sponsor

Both licensed and unlicensed architects may be able to find work in the US and qualify for a visa, depending on the individual circumstances. In most situations, this requires the initial step of having a prospective employer willing to sponsor your visa unless you plan on opening a self-owned architecture firm.

Unlicensed architects can accept positions in which they’ll be directly supervised by a licensed architect. The type of roles you can take depends on the state you’re planning on working in, as architectural laws are governed by each state. This is an essential distinction, as it could make or break the approval of your Labor Certification Application with the Department of Labor.

Work Visa Options

Once you’ve obtained an offer of sponsorship from a qualifying US employer, you may be able to petition for an H-1B visa. This is a temporary nonimmigrant work visa designed for skilled workers planning employment with a US company in a specialty occupation.

The term “specialty occupation” refers to jobs that typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent to complete. These visas are limited to three years, with an optional three-year extension. However, H-1B visas in non-cap-exempt jobs, such as most architecture positions, require entry in a random lottery process early in the year before an application can begin.

If you prefer to skip the hefty competition in the lottery process and try for a different visa, Australian nationals can obtain an E-3 for specialty occupations. There is a limit to how many visas are provided annually, but this annual cap has yet to be filled, giving you a high chance of success.

Canadian or Mexican nationals have the option of a TN visa under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). This visa is for individuals from these countries who wish to seek temporary status in the US to complete business activity at a professional level, such as an architect. You must have a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent or a state/provincial license to practice architecture.

Other Visa Options

If you don’t qualify for the above visas or you don’t have a bachelor’s or advanced degree, you may still have what it takes to get an O-1 visa. This category is for those who have clear extraordinary abilities in business, arts, athletics, or science. It’s challenging to prove this to the government, but if your architectural career has brought you distinguished merit and recognition, you may have a case. 

Similar to the O-1 visa is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver. With this visa, you can skip the job offer requirement entirely and self-sponsor. However, you must prove to USCIS that your extraordinary abilities or advanced degree bring with it a proposed endeavor that makes it in the nation’s interest to grant your waiver of a job offer and Labor Condition Approval.

If you’re still a trainee or intern, a J-1 visa is for you. These are short-term visas with rigid requirements ensuring you focus on your education. While you’re in the US, you can establish contacts that may sponsor you for a job in the future.

The E-2 investor visa is ideal for those who manage and direct an architecture-related business. As long as there is a treaty of trade between your country of origin and the US, you can use this visa to conduct your work. 

Finally, the L-1 visa permits companies with international businesses to transfer managers, executives, and specialized employees from the foreign branch to the US branch. Qualified applicants have already worked at least one of the last three years in those positions and will enter the US working for the company in the same role.

What’s Next?

Are you ready to take your architectural profession to the United States but aren’t sure how to get there yet? Or do you simply want to leave the red tape and legal heavy lifting in the hands of an expert who can do the work for you easier and faster? If so, Visa2US has you covered.

Just as you know the ins and outs of all architecture-related steps, our skilled professionals know how best to get your work visa approved. Contact us today to discuss your situation and goals and find out which visa journey is right for you!

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.