Moving to the United States can be an excellent option for South African professionals searching for better opportunities. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has different visa options for that specific purpose.
In this article, you will have an overview of the best US work visa options for South Africans.
How Can a South African Get a Job in the USA? – The Best Visa Options
H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant classification for foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States to perform services in specialty occupations. USCIS defines a “specialty occupation” as an occupation that requires:
- “Theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and
- Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States”
To qualify to perform services in a specialty occupation, USCIS requires applicants to meet at least one of the established criteria, which are:
- Holding a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
- Holding a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
- Holding an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
Applicants cannot self-petition for an H-1B visa. Instead, a US employer must sponsor him or her for a temporary H-1B job.
EB-3 Third Preference Employment-Based Visa
The EB-3 visa is an immigrant visa category that permits eligible foreign nationals to enter the United States to live and work permanently. This specific visa applies to skilled workers, professionals, and other workers.
Please note that USCIS has specific definitions for each subcategory. USCIS defines EB-3 skilled workers as individuals whose jobs require at least two years of training or experience (no temporary or seasonal nature).
The eligibility for this subcategory requires applicants to meet the educational, training, or experience requirements for a job opportunity. Depending on the job offer, USCIS may consider relevant post-secondary education.
EB-3 professionals are individuals whose job requires at least a US baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree, and a baccalaureate degree is the standard requirement for entry into the applicant’s occupation.
For this specific subcategory, USCIS will not accept education and experience as a substitute for a baccalaureate degree.
The EB-3 subcategory for other workers applies to individuals with the ability to perform unskilled labor (requiring less than two years of training or experience), that is not temporary or seasonal.
One of the key elements of the EB-3 visa is that applicants must be performing work for which qualified US workers are not available. In addition to USCIS requirements, applicants must also meet the requirements specified on DOL’s labor certification.
Please note that all EB-3 subcategories require a permanent full-time job offer from a US employer and a labor certification process with the US Department of Labor (DOL).