US Work Visa and US Work Permit USA

What’s the Difference Between A US Work Visa and US Work Permit?

As a migrant, you need permission from the relevant authorities if you want to work in another country. For working in America, your options are a work visa or a work permit.

Some people use the terms interchangeably, but this shouldn’t be the case. So, what’s the difference between a work visa and a work permit? Read on to find out.

US Work Visa

A US work visa is temporary permission to enter the United States for the purposes of work. As with other visas, it’s valid for a stated length of time and only permits you to work in a certain job or sector.

To obtain a work visa, you’ll usually apply for a job from your home country and then go through the application process. Companies often petition for work visas if they can’t find American nationals to fill the role. 

There are a variety of US work visas depending upon the nature of the work that individuals want to do in the US. Professionals, athletes, investors, traders and other labor workers all require different forms of work visas.

If someone with a us work visa wants to remain in the country, their employer can sponsor them for an extension or change of class. For example, a visa worker might be able to apply for a green card depending on the type of work they do.

Generally, a work visa lasts for a maximum of a year, although it might be less depending on the type of work. It means an American company can pay you for your services. This is different to a business visa, as this specifies your foreign company must pay you while in the USA.

US Work Permit

In contrast, a Work Permit is a legal authority endorsed for an individual already present in the US who wants to work. It’s essentially permission shown to an employer in the United States to prove that the person is legally authorized by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to work.

Foreigners living in the United States cannot work there until they get a US work Visa or permit. It is a photo identity card stating that you’re a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has permission from the US government to work in the country.

Another name for a work permit is Employment Authorization Document (EAD). They’re the same thing, but this is its official name. You must apply for an EAD once you’re in the country as an LPR, depending on your documentation.

For example, a green card holder doesn’t need a separate work permit. This is because a green card acts as employment authorization, so you just take this to your interview instead. Also, US citizens/naturalized immigrants don’t need an EAD because they have all the same rights as other US citizens.

A work permit lasts for a maximum of a year, but this again depends on the type of work or visa you hold. It also impacts how many times you can renew your work permit. Some situations allow you to renew it numerous times, while others mean you can only renew it once.

All the individuals who want to apply for Work Permit must fill Form I-765 that the USCIS gives. The authorities demand photos, documents, and a fee so that they can carry on with the application process.

Foreigners sponsored by an American employer do not need to apply for a work permit. Besides this, tourists and visit visa holders are not eligible to apply for a work permit because of their reason for being in the country. The same is true for undocumented immigrants, of course.

The Difference Between a US Work Visa and Work Permit

The most obvious difference between a work visa and a work permit is where you are when applying. You must obtain any visa before entering the country, whereas you apply for a work permit once you’re in the country.

Of course, you can renew both once you’re in America, although this depends on the type of work and permitted length of stay. It’s fairly unique to your circumstances, so you might want to speak to an attorney for more information.

The next difference is the type of work you can do. Your options are more limited with a work visa. It’s because you’re usually permitted entry into the US for a certain job, which you likely applied for while in your home country. This isn’t always the case, but is true for specialty work visas.

With a green card, however, you can legally work for any American company. There’s no specialist requirement, meaning you can take any work you want or are able to do.

Finally, another key difference is what happens when your permission expires. Granted, you can apply for an extension of either, but with a work permit, you must confirm that you’ll return to your home country once it expires.

This isn’t usually the case with a work permit. For example, if you’re an asylee wanting to work in the US, there’s no reason why you’d confirm you’d return to your home country when it expires. After all, you left there for a reason.

A work permit doesn’t grant you settlement rights, though. It works alongside other documentation you might have, as it specifically grants you the right to work.


Deciding between a work permit and a work visa largely depends on the type of work you do and your future plans.

A Green Card is the easiest way to enter the US with the right to work. Better yet, applying through the Diversity Visa Program makes it even easier. You are always welcome to contact one of our immigration agents via our Green Card support ticket system for more information on this application process.

Apply for a green card today
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