Information About Non-Immigrant Visas
A non-immigrant is an individual who enters the U.S. for a temporary period to engage in a specific activity. There are a variety of non-immigrant visas, each type with certain rules, regulations, application processes, benefits and time limits. The most common types of non-immigrant visas include business visitors, tourists, students, and fiancés.
Visa Waiver Program: This enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. You will find more information on this program on the Department of State’s website here.
B-1/B-2 Visa: Temporary Visitor for Business & Pleasure. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), tourism, pleasure or visiting (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).
C-Visa: In Transit through U.S. These visas are for persons traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States en route to another country, with few exceptions.
D-Visa: Crewmember (Sea or Air). These visas are for persons working on board sea vessels or international airlines in the United States, providing services required for normal operation and intending to depart the United States on the same vessel or any other vessel within 29 days. If you travel to the United States to join the vessel you will work on, in addition to a crewmember (D) visa, you also need a transit (C-1) visa or a combination C-1/D visa.
E-1 and E-2 Visa: Foreign Investor and Trader. These visas are for nationals from specified treaty countries (including most of Europe, Scandinavia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, some of the Americas, etc.) whose companies have made a “substantial” investment in the U.S. (E-2 Visa), or are regularly trading with the U.S. (E-1 Visa). The individual E visa-holders must be among the company’s principal investors, managers or specialized employees. Companies with E visa status range from small start-ups to large multinational corporations, but the investments should eventually create at least one job for a U.S. worker. E visas can be extended indefinitely (as long as the investment or trading activity continues), and U.S. tax considerations cause some individuals to prefer the E visa over the green card.
F-1 Visa: Student. Academic study visa for those who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or Universtiy, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or another academic institution, including a language training program.
H-1B Visa:Specialty Occupation Worker. Only U.S.-based companies may apply for this visa, on behalf of foreign nationals in most professional occupations, including engineers, computer scientists, financial analysts and others with a Bachelors Degree or its equivalent in work experience The maximum length of stay in the U.S. is six years, during which time the visa-holder must get a new visa if s/he changes employers.
H1-B1 Visa: Specialty Occupation Worker from Chile or Singapore. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization.
H-2B Visa: Temporary non-agricultural worker. For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-3 Visa: Trainee or Special Education visitor. To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.
I Visa: Members of the Foreign Media, Press, and Radio. This visa is for representatives of the foreign media, including members of the press, radio, film, and print industries, traveling temporarily to the United States to work in their profession engaged in informational or educational media activities, essential to the foreign media function.
J-1 Visa: Exchange Visitors. This visa is for foreign nationals who have been accepted as participants in a broad range of work and/or study programs approved by the U.S. Information Agency. Business and industrial trainees may be issued J-1 visas for a maximum of 18 months.
L-1 Visa: Intercompany Transfer. This visa is for executives, owners, managers or employees with “specialized knowledge” who have worked for at least one year out of the past three years for an overseas company. The overseas company must have – or must form – a U.S. affiliate company, which submits the petition for this visa. The maximum stay in the U.S. is 5-7 years, but L-1A visa holders (managers and executives) are usually eligible within one year for a “green card”.
M-1 Visa: Student. This visa is for studies at a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program.
O-1 Visa: Person with Extraordinary Ability. To qualify for this visa, the applicant must meet at least three of several possible criteria enumerated by the INS (e.g., has made contributions or shown leadership within the field as documented in letters by colleagues or past/present employers, won honors or awards, published articles, etc.). The O-1 visa leads readily to a “green card.”
P-1 Visa: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group. To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
R-1 Visa:Religious Worker. These visas are for persons who want to enter the United States to work temporarily in religious capacities.
TN Visa: Canadian or Mexican Professional Worker. This visa is only for Canadian citizens whose occupations appear on Schedule 2 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The employer must submit a supporting letter, along with the credentials specified in Schedule 2 for the occupation. The visa is initially valid for one year, but can be renewed indefinitely.
U Visa: Victims of Criminal Activity. This visa is for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. This visa is valid for 4 years, but can be extended in certain, limited circumstances.
Call us today for a consultation to find out if you qualify for one of these visas!