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A friend, a French citizen, wants to travel to the USA. Can she obtain a long-term visa and work permit in the USA?

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    Trivially, yes. Without a basis for the request, though, it will be denied. Why does the French citizen want to travel to the US, and how long does she want to remain?
    – phoog
    Apr 16 at 6:42
  • Can you clarify whether she wants to obtain the long-term visa and work permit before going there, or after she gets there? The procedure is very different. Also there are many different classes of visas which depend on the specific circumstances, each with its own set of conditions.
    – jcaron
    Apr 16 at 8:16
  • In the US, foreign workers must be sponsored by employers (with very specific exceptions). The French citizen cannot obtain a work permit without such sponsorship.
    – littleadv
    Apr 16 at 8:17

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Depends on whether they enter on the Visa Waiver Program or on a B-visa

What is asked is called Adjustment of Status, where you fill form I-485 (for permanent residence) or I-129 (for other non-immigrant statuses, thanks to @liladv) to switch to another status (like a worker one, visa != status in the US)


However, adjustment of status is specifically barred when entering under the VWP (FAM 7 part B chapter 7)

A noncitizen admitted as a nonimmigrant without a visa under a Visa Waiver Program is barred from adjustment of status.[8] Similarly, a noncitizen admitted as a nonimmigrant without a visa to Guam or to the CNMI is barred from adjustment of status.[9] These bars do not apply, however, to those seeking to adjust status as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or VAWA-based applicants.


If they entered using a B-visa, they are allowed to apply for Adjustment of Status, provided they have basis for the request. Be warned that they have a very high risk of denial of entry because they are presenting as a tourist not as a worker.

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  • I-485 is adjustment of status to permanent residency. For changing status to another non-immigrant status there are different forms. Specifically for employment status (L and H) - use form I-129.
    – littleadv
    Apr 16 at 8:16
  • Not only is the form different but the name of the procedure is different. Form I-129 and I-539 are used to "change" or "extend" status (some of the statuses covered by I-539 do indeed authorize work, though mostly not employment by a US employer). The edit in response to @littleadv's comment is therefore still not quite correct. The prohibition against changing to another status from the VWP is found elsewhere.
    – phoog
    Apr 16 at 9:04

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