Nowadays, it is very common for workers from the United Kingdom (UK) to travel to the United States (U.S.), to work for a limited period. Over 11,000 nonimmigrant work visas were issued to UK citizens in 2021 alone.
When planning to travel to the U.S., it’s important to know what documents are required. If UK citizens want to work, they won’t qualify for the U.S. visa waiver program, so will need a U.S. work visa.
Question is, which type? How does the application process work? Fortunately, Passport Photo Online can help! We’ve created the definitive guide to getting a U.S. work visa for UK citizens. Read on, and never sweat over a visa application form again!
In this article:
- U.S. work visa requirements for UK citizens
- How to get a work visa for UK citizens to the U.S.?
- Work visa (U.S.) for UK citizens: required documents
U.S. work visa requirements for UK citizens
UK citizens must fulfil several criteria if they are to be considered eligible for a U.S. work visa. The U.S. immigration services are notoriously strict with these requirements, so it is important for applicants to do thorough research in advance, to make sure they qualify.
In general, work visas are based on a specific offer of employment and require a successful petition. In order to qualify for a U.S. petition-based work visa, applicants are required to fulfil the following conditions before applying:
- A job offer in the U.S.–foreign citizens need their employers to provide several documents to support their application.
- A successful petition, submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by your employer. Officially known as the I-129 form, you need one to get a visa. However, having one does not guarantee that you will get a visa, as that decision is ultimately up to the U.S. Embassy.
- Labour certification approval by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This only applies to H visas. The applicant’s employer will need to file with the DOL before they even send the petition.
There are also some non-petition-based work visas, including:
- crew members of commercial planes and ships
- members of the media
- exchange workers
- vocational workers
- NAFTA professionals.
These will require proof of employment in addition to the work visa application form. In all cases, applicants must have the financial means to pay the relevant fees, and to sustain them while in the country.
The work visa fees applicants will need to pay are as follows:
- Petition-based work visas (H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190.
- Non-petition-based work visas (D, I, J, M, TN) – $160.
Going abroad and need a visa? Check out our other articles for more guidance:
How to get a work visa for UK citizens to the U.S.?
For travelling to the U.S. for a temporary period, there is a wide range of nonimmigrant work visas available. Applicants will need to select the nonimmigrant visa to apply for based on the nature of the work they wish to do. Here is a comprehensive list of all the different categories of visas that UK nationals might need:
- C-1/D: Crew Members of Commercial Sea Vessels or International Airlines
- E: Treaty Investor, Treaty Trader and Australian Free Trade Professionals
- H-1B: Speciality Occupation (Those travelling to carry out a prearranged job for a U.S. company)
- H-1C: Registered Nurses
- H-2B: Unskilled and Skilled Workers (Those performing a temporary or seasonal job that the U.S. are short of workers for)
- H-3: Trainees (Those travelling to the U.S. for training purposes, other than graduate medical education/training)
- I: Members of Foreign Media
- J: Exchange Workers
- L-1: Intra-Company Transfer (Temporary transfer to a U.S. branch, often applied for in bulk by companies on behalf of multinational managers and executives).
- M: Vocational Workers
- O-1/O-2: People with Exceptional Ability, Entertainers, Athletes, Artists and Support Staff (O-1 is for those of ability themselves and 0-2 is for any support staff they might need)
- P-1/P-2/P-3: Athletes, Artists, Entertainers and Support Staff (P-1 is for a single event for entertainers, 5 (five) years for a single athlete and 6 (six) months for a team, P-2 covers a reciprocal exchange programme, P-3 covers a culturally unique programme)
- Q-1: International Cultural Exchange
- R-1: Religious Workers or Ministers
- TN: NAFTA professionals.
Only H, L, O, P, Q and R visas are petition based. It’s essential to research the different types thoroughly, to make sure you get the right visa for you. Visas for temporary workers may vary in their scope, but the application process is largely the same for all.
Step #1: Complete a DS-160 form online and print the confirmation page for everyone who’s applying for a visa, regardless of age. Answer the questions as thoroughly and truthfully as possible and upload a 2 x 2 inch photo.
Step #2: Go to the Visa Appointment Service website, to pay the MRV application fee and (if aged between 14 and 79) schedule your appointment in the U.S. Embassy in London. Applicants aged under 14 (fourteen) or over 75 (seventy-five) have the option to apply by courier. The Visa Appointment Service website has information on the courier service, too.
Step #3: Attend your visa appointment and interview, with the Appointment Confirmation letter. Give your fingerprints when prompted. Answer all the consular officer’s questions in as much detail as you can. This interview process lasts just a few minutes, but you should expect to be at the embassy for 2-3 (two to three) hours in total to get everything sorted.
Step #4: Wait 7-8 (seven to eight) working days and, if approved, the U.S. work visa will be delivered to your door. If you use the Interview Waiver Program (available in certain cases to H, L, O, P and Q visa applicants applying in their country of origin, who have previously travelled either by visa or through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)), it will take longer. You will need to wait 23-24 (twenty-three to twenty-four) working days from the date the application arrives at the embassy to get your visa.
Work visa (U.S.) for UK citizens: required documents
When UK nationals apply for a U.S. work visa, they will need to provide a range of supporting documentation as part of the application process. No matter what visa an applicant is applying for, they will need:
- Confirmation page of the DS-160 application form, completed as part of the application process.
- Confirmation page for a visa appointment (where needed, applicants will be informed in advance if one is required).
- A UK passport or similar travel authorisation document. An applicant’s passport needs to have multiple pages, at least one of which must be blank, to take the U.S. visa stamp. Ideally, a passport should have more than one blank page. British citizens are not required to have at least 6 (six) months of validity remaining on their passport beyond the day of departure.
- A 5 x 5 cm (2 x 2 inch) colour biometric photograph, taken within the last 6 (six) months to the U.S. visa photo standards. Ideally, this photo would be uploaded to the DS-160 application form, but, if this is not possible, applicants must provide a printed photo at their visa interview.
- Where applicable, the petition’s receipt number, along with a copy of the Notice of Action Form I-797A, B or C. Without this, the application cannot be processed.
- A declaration of any arrests, cautions and convictions, as well as any relevant police certificates.
- A doctor’s note outlining any medical condition that may affect compliance with the eligibility criteria.
- Documents relating to any time in the past where the applicant has been denied entry to or deported from, the U.S.
Media professionals coming to the U.S. will require some extra documentation, depending on their role:
- Freelance Journalist: A signed letter from the contracting organisation, on official letter-headed paper, carrying: the applicant’s name, title, relationship to the company, the purpose of the trip/project, planned length of stay, and the duration of the applicant’s contract with the company.
- Media Film Crew: A letter from the employer giving the applicant’s name, job title, the name and brief description of the program being filmed, and the proposed length of the shoot.
- Staff Journalist: A letter from the employer that gives the applicant’s name, position, the purpose of the trip, and the proposed length of stay.
- Independent Production Company: A letter from the employer, giving the applicant’s name, position, title and a brief description of the show being filmed, and the proposed duration of the shoot.
Crew Members of commercial ships and planes will also be required to submit a signed letter on official letter paper that confirms the visa applicant’s employment and the proposed duration of stay.
U.S. work visa photos for UK citizens with Passport Photo Online
There are a lot of important parts to the process of applying for U.S. nonimmigrant work visas, but the most significant is probably the U.S. visa photo.
Passport Photo Online’s professional AI image editor can quickly and easily rework and reformat your photos to fit the criteria in just 3 (three) seconds. We put a lot of work in to expertly solve all the key struggles of getting your visa photo taken:
- U.S. visa photos are sized 2 x 2 inches, different requirements from the standard passport photo size in the UK. This means that finding a bespoke U.S. visa photo near you won’t always be easy. Luckily, Passport Photo Online is available wherever you have an internet connection! We’re also open 24/7, so we’re always ready when you need us.
- Depending on where you’re taking your picture, it can sometimes be difficult to find a setting that offers enough of a contrast between setting and subject. We understand this, it can be a pain. That’s why we’ve got our background remover. Simply watch as it removes any background, leaving a plain, neutral-coloured replacement instead. Perfect for a U.S. visa photo.
- Sometimes, it’s tricky to find a biometric photo service that offers digital copies of visa photos, that’s why we offer you the choice of getting a standard printed visa photo reel, or a digital copy, fitting the size specifications perfectly, sent directly to your email address, ready to be uploaded to your online DS-160 form.
Every photo we edit also comes with our money-back guarantee. If a visa application is rejected because of a photo we worked on, we pledge to refund you 200% of what you paid.
U.S. work permit visa for UK citizens: FAQ
Now that we’ve been through the details, we’ll answer some of the burning questions our readers may still have about getting a U.S. work visa as a UK citizen.
Do UK citizens need a work visa for the USA?
Yes, all UK citizens will need a work visa for the U.S.
How do I get a U.S. work visa from the UK?
To get a U.S. work visa from the UK, applicants need to complete the DS-160 form online and submit it, with a compliant visa photo. Next, they need to book a visa appointment at an embassy or consulate. They need to attend this appointment, giving their fingerprints and answering all the questions given to them in the interview phase. Finally, if the application is successful, the U.S. work visa will be delivered directly to the applicant.
How do I get a work visa for America from the UK?
The process to get a U.S. work visa in the UK is standard for all forms of visa. Read our step-by-step process above to see what prospective travellers need to do.
What is the easiest way for a UK citizen to get a U.S. work visa?
The easiest way to get a U.S. work visa is to apply online, as British citizens can fill the form out easily and upload a digital photo, saving them from having to get one printed. Visa applicants will need to attend the interview, but once that’s done, the visa will arrive in only 7-8 (seven to eight) working days.
What visa types are available for working in the U.S.?
There are 14 main types of work visas available for British nationals working in the U.S. on a temporary basis. We’ve covered them in detail in the article, take a look at the full list above.
What are the U.S. work visa types for UK citizens?
Depending on what you do, there are many different visas available. Check out the full list above for more details.
What kind of visa is needed for working in the U.S.?
Depending on their vocation, a UK citizen will need one of several different visa types. Check out the list above for more information.
Can you get a U.S. work visa for media workers?
Yes, media workers (reporter, editor, film crew, e.t.c) planning to go on foreign assignments in the U.S., will need to get an I visa. In general, only certain media workers will qualify for an I visa, notably those whose activities are informational and related to the news-gathering process.
Outside of this, media workers will need to get an O, P or H visa, depending on the nature of their employment.
Can non-profit workers get a U.S. work visa?
Yes, non-profit workers qualify for an H-1B visa. Most charities are exempt from annual quotas, too.
When applying for a U.S. work visa, what documents are required?
All visa applicants will always be required to provide several supporting documents as part of the application process. Depending on the visa applicant’s situation, there may be a number of different documents that are required. These are covered in more detail above.
Can a UK citizen get a U.S. work visa with a criminal record?
When British nationals are applying for a U.S. visa of any kind, they need to declare any arrests, cautions or convictions in their history. If a British citizen has ever been convicted of a crime, they could be permanently ineligible for a U.S. visa.
Luckily, there may be another option. British citizens can simply request an ineligibility waiver. A successful appeal will allow the plaintiff to bypass their ban and apply for a visa to travel to the U.S. It’s a good idea to do this in advance, though, as it can take up to 6 (six) months to process.
How much does a U.S. work visa cost?
Petition-based work visas (H, L, O, P, Q, R) cost $190, while non-petition-based work visas (D, I, J, M, TN) cost $160.
What is a temporary working visa called in the U.S.?
In the U.S., a limited period work visa is officially referred to as a nonimmigrant work visa.
How to prepare a U.S. work visa application?
The best way to prepare a U.S. work visa application is to do a lot of research in advance to confirm all the supporting documents needed for the relevant work visa.
Once the applicant has collected their documents, they can begin the process of filling out the application form and uploading a visa photo. It’s important to make sure the visa photo is compliant with the regulations. Once the application has been submitted, book and attend a visa appointment. From there, just wait for your visa to be delivered.
Does the U.S. work visa affect dependents?
In some cases, when British nationals get nonimmigrant work visas, their spouse and dependent children under 21 (twenty-one) could benefit from derivative visas. They can use these to visit work visa holders while they are staying in the U.S. As with the work visa, this does not entitle them to relocate to the U.S. permanently or benefit from healthcare.
D and Q visas do not offer this, however, so if a visiting worker’s dependents wish to visit, they will be required to apply for their own visas outright.
Is it easier to get an employer-sponsored U.S. work visa?
Yes, most visas are employee-sponsored and require a successful petition to be valid.
How long will it take for me to receive a temporary U.S. work visa?
Currently, the average processing time for U.S. work visas for British citizens is 5 (five) working days, but you will need to allow a further 2-3 (two to three) days for delivery. Remember, this can change at any time, so check the U.S. Embassy’s website in order to get the most up-to-date information.
Under the Interview Waiver Program, applicants will need to wait 21 (twenty-one) working days for their applications to be processed, along with an extra 2-3 (two to three) days for delivery.
What are the current U.S. work visa wait times?
On average, it currently takes around 5 (five) working days to process a U.S. work visa application. The delivery time will add an extra 2-3 (two to three) days, so it’s a good idea to plan accordingly.
If a visa applicant qualifies for the Interview Waiver Program, it will take 21 (twenty-one) working days, plus 2-3 (two to three) days for delivery.
Does the U.S. work visa have a deadline?
No, but it’s important to build around the timescales of applying. Read above to see how long the process takes, but remember these are only estimates and can change at any time.
What is the duration of a U.S. work visa?
The duration of a U.S. work visa is determined by how long the applicant will need to stay. This will be agreed upon as part of the application process.
How does the U.S. work visa online application work?
Applicants can fill out the application form and pay the relevant fees online but must attend the visa appointment in person, bringing a printed copy of the confirmation page.
What are some examples of U.S. work visa interview questions?
When attending a visa interview, applicants will be asked some questions, which must be answered as honestly as possible. These can include, but will certainly not be limited to:
– What is the purpose of your visit to the U.S.?
– What city do you intend to travel to?
– What is the duration of your stay?
– What is the nature of your work?
– What’s the assurance that you’ll return?
My U.S. work visa application was denied, what do I do?
There is no appeal process for visa applications. The only option is to reapply, but it’s only worth doing that if new evidence has come to light that can counteract the reason the first application was rejected.
Can you get a U.S. work visa without sponsorship?
No, whilst not all U.S. work visas require petitions, all require the applicant’s employer to sponsor them.
Can you get a U.S. work visa without a degree?
Yes, you can! The H-2 visa, for example, is designed for workers without higher education. Artist visas also base eligibility on ability, rather than formal education, such as a bachelor’s degree.
U.S. work visa for UK citizens: summing up
There you have it! With our comprehensive advice, any British citizen can apply for a U.S. work visa quickly and easily.
Passport Photo Online can also help you get a perfect visa photo, no matter where you are in the world, making the process as smooth as possible for you.
Once you’ve got your visa, nothing is stopping you from reaching that all-important new venture. We’re excited for you already. 😁
Having graduated with a History degree from the University of Birmingham, Sam has proven writing experience in biometric photography articles, marketing and events. Born in the UK, he has travelled extensively both nationally and internationally. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cycling and skateboarding.