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I come from EU. My question is: can I legally travel to US and work there even if I am a minor? If yes, what are the requirements and what are the steps I need to take?

  • US nationals (and green card holders, I assume) can get work permits at age 14. I mention this for reference. I was recently staying at a hotel and struck up a conversation with a housekeeper, who told me she had been recruited, legally, from Latin America to the hotel to work there in the high season (summer). So apparently there are ways for foreigners to work in the U.S. that are not widely known. Maybe you could try to find out more workplace.stackexchange.com. – aparente001 Aug 6 '16 at 16:38
  • @aparente001 I believe most seasonal workers come as J-1 exchange visitors. I would be surprised if work-based J-1 programs accept minors. – phoog Aug 7 '16 at 4:55
  • @phoog - I looked up your J-1 idea. I couldn't find the minimum age for the guest worker program. Then I found a variant for exchange students, minimum age 15: j1visa.state.gov/programs/secondary-school-student. It says, "Students may not work part-time or full-time jobs. However, they may accept occasional work, like yard work or baby-sitting." That got me thinking about au pair work. The minimum age for that was easy to find -- 18. – aparente001 Aug 7 '16 at 12:54
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Regulations pertaining to employment for people without permanent resident status can be found here. A minor can travel to the US, but may require a visa: EU nationals are eligible for the visa waiver program, but that precludes for-credit study or employment, and if you're been in certain countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen) since March 1, 2011 then you're not eligible.

Here is a situation where I think it is impossible: you get a visitor's visa to stay a month as a tourist, and pick up a few hours working at a local grocery store. It is however possible for an prospective employer to petition (in advance) for you to be a temporary worker.

  • It should perhaps be noted that the "impossible situation" you describe is impossible regardless of the traveler's age. – phoog Aug 7 '16 at 14:14

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