Nonimmigrant temporary workers with H-1B, H-4, J-1, J-2, L-1, L-2, O-1, R-1, and TN visas work in various skilled and professional occupations, with many holding visas for one to three years, but with limited opportunities for renewal. Estimates show that nearly half a million immigrants with temporary status work in essential industries, including 160,000 in essential telecommunications, information technology, and financial fields. An additional 130,000 provide medical services, including 30,000 physicians and 20,000 life scientists. And 70,000 provide educational services, including 20,000 professors. Although these temporary immigrant essential workers live lawfully in the U.S., their temporary visas are subject to renewal and not always guaranteed, especially given the changing legal landscape of nonimmigrant visas.
Seasonal nonimmigrants working in essential industries, such as those on H-2A and H-2B visas, number about 40,000 people in food services and production, 30,000 in housing and facility services, and 20,000 in agricultural production. Although their visas are at the most a year in length, many return each year—or have their status renewed stateside—to provide this essential work. Estimates are that some 90,000 seasonal nonimmigrants work in essential industries.11