Visa Type Description
A-1: Ambassadors, public ministers, or career diplomats/officers
A-2: Other accredited officials and employees of foreign governments
A-3: Attendants, servants, personal employees
B-1: The Business Visitor visa is used for persons starting business activity in the United States. The visa is issued upon the merits of the individual applying. The B-1 allows an individual to incorporate in the U.S., acquire property, sign contracts, etc. It precludes the individual from directly managing any U.S. business or in any way receiving wages from a U.S. source, even if self-owned.
The B-1 tourist for business category is intended for business people coming to the U.S. to engage activities of a professional, business, or commercial nature, relating to their foreign business. A B-1 tourist for business cannot be paid from a U.S. source, other than incidental living or travel expenses. B-1 visitors cannot do any local employment.
B-2: Tourists for pleasure are the most common visas used by persons coming to the U.S. People with this classification of visa are usually admitted for a period of up to six months and may apply for extensions. However, the maximum limitation of stay for this visa category is one year.
When the tourist enters the U.S., a white piece of paper is stapled into the passport. This document is called an I-94. The date on the I-94 is what controls the period you are allowed to stay in the U.S., not the visa stamp obtained at the consulate. The visa stamp obtained at the consulate tells you what is the last day you may enter the U.S. with the visa. The date on the I-94 tells you how long you are authorized to stay in the U.S.
Before you are issued a tourist visa for pleasure you must satisfy the American consulate and the immigration official at the border that you are coming to the U.S. for a temporary visit for pleasure and that you have an un-abandoned foreign residence which you intend to return to at the end of the trip. A tourist for pleasure cannot be employed in the U.S.
A C Visa is used for a person who is merely stopping in the U.S. to continue their trip or persons in transit to and from the United Nations Headquarters district and foreign countries under a special agreement.
Crew member (sea or air).
The E-1 and E-2 Visas do not have to retain a permanent residence abroad. There is also no limit on the duration of their stay as long as they maintain their status. The American consulate generally grants these visas for multiple periods of five years. Additionally, employment by family members is not viewed as a violation of status.
E-1 Treaty traders: Only nationals of countries having a “treaty of commerce and navigations” providing for nonimmigrant entries in existence between the U.S. and the foreign country qualify. The treaty trader category is available to individuals from nations which have signed a treaty of trade and commerce with the U.S. The treaty trader visa is available for an unlimited number of years and allows the spouse and minor dependents of the recipient to live and attend school in the U.S.
While many large corporations involved in import/export utilize the category, it is most frequently used by small to mid-sized companies seeking a permanent trading presence in the U.S.
E-2 Treaty investors: Like the E-1, the E-2 treaty investor allows a foreign individual or corporation to invest actively in a U.S. business and remain in the U.S. while operating and managing it. Like the E-1, it has no limit on the number of years and does not require an un-abandoned foreign residence. The treaty investor visa is not limited to any particular type of business and it can include restaurants, manufacturing and virtually any other type of activity permissible by law.
F-1 Student Visas are used for students to study at authorized institutions from elementary school to post doctoral studies. As long as the student maintains his/her status, he/she can stay in the U.S.
1.Principal resident representative, family and staff.
2.Foreign government has de jure recognition.
3.International organization listed (e.g., IMF, UN, OAS, OAU).
4.Only subject to certain security grounds of inadmissibility.
5.G-1 to G-4 duration of status so long as U.S. Department of State recognizes credentials.
1.Other accredited representatives and immediate family.
2.Personnel of any rank or temporary delegation.
1.G-1/G-2 from government without de jure recognition from U.S.
2.Nonmember country of international organization.
1.Officers and employees of international organization and immediate family.
2.Special expeditious treatment to UN reps. Because U.S. host country.
3.Sons and daughters, widows and retirees in G-4 status can be special immigrants.
Attendants, servants, and personal employees of G-1 to G-4s.
Employment is generally not available but may be authorized for certain G categories.
H-1(b): A member of a specialty occupation. The individual must have obtained, through education and/or experience, the equivalent of at least a Baccalaureate Degree in a specific discipline. Additionally, the job offered in the U.S. must reasonably require such a Baccalaureate Degree to perform the job duties.
Graphic designers, etc.
H-1(c): Foreign born registered nurse.
H-2(b): Temporary employment based on an offer for a temporary position. Approval is conditioned on evidence that the job is temporary and that there are no willing, able, or qualified U.S. workers for the position. A labor certification must be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor. Approval is only for one year, with maximum extensions for 3 years.
H-3: For training in a field that is not available in the applicant’s home country. Applicant obtains work authorization after approval and entry into the U.S. Period of approval depends on the nature of the proposed training, but no longer than 2 years total.
An I Visa is available for an alien who is a proper representative of foreign press, film, or other information media, who seeks to enter the U.S. solely to engage in such vocation and the spouse and minor children of such representative.
A J Visa is an Exchange Visitor’s visa under a special program enacted in 1961. The aim of the program is to foster international relations by bringing exchange visitors into the United States, under certain approved programs, to acquire skills that can then be utilized in their home country.
Certain J Visa holders are subject to a 2-year foreign residency requirement before they are allowed to change to another non-immigrant visa or to make an application for permanent residency.
The IAP-66 is the form that will tell you (on the lower left corner) whether or not you are subject to the 2-year foreign residency requirement. Under limited circumstances, a person subject to that requirement may be able to obtain a waiver to stay legally in the U.S.
K-1: A foreign national engaged to marry a U.S. citizen and has met the U.S. citizen within the 2 years prior to the filing of the application. They must marry within 90 days of the foreign national’s arrival in the U.S. This person may only adjust status through marriage to the person who filed for the K-1 visa.
K-3 & K-4: A new non-immigrant category that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen to be admitted to the U.S. in a non-immigrant category. It allows them to process the permanent residence while in the U.S. and to obtain work authorization during the processing of their case.
L-1: The “Intra-company Transferee” category is available to individuals who either own or are employees of a foreign corporation in which they have worked for at least one of the prior three years, in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity.
The employer must be a U.S. corporation related directly, in any one of a variety of ways, to the foreign company.
The L-1 Visa carries a maximum approval of seven years, but is perhaps the most direct conduit to permanent residency in the U.S.
A vocational (non-academic) student or his/her spouse or child.
The N Visa is issued to parents and children of G-4 Visa holders employed by NATO, accorded special immigrant status under INA Section 101(a)(27)(I) if the child is given a visa during the time he/she is under 21 years of age.
The O Visa is set aside for aliens of “extraordinary” ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, certain aliens accompanying or assisting those aliens, and their family members.
The person seeking issuance of an O Visa must have reached the top of the profession or endeavor for which the alien seeks admittance into the U.S.
The O Visa is obtainable for three years and thereafter is renewable in 1-year increments. An employer must petition for this person, and the employer must obtain a no objection letter from a peer group, labor union or management organization relative to the profession and job offer.
The P Visa covers those entertainers and athletes who cannot qualify under the extraordinary ability standard of the O Visa. It covers alien athletes who compete individually or as part of a team at an internationally recognized level, and aliens who perform with, or are an integral and essential part of, the performance of an entertainment group that has received international recognition as “outstanding” for a “sustained and substantial period of time.”
P-1: Internationally recognized athlete or member of internationally recognized entertainment group.
P-2: Artist or entertainer in a reciprocal exchange program.
P-3: Artist or entertainer in a culturally unique program.
A visa for peace process cultural and training (cultural international exchange program).
A visa for a religious worker: ministers of religion, professional workers in religious vocation and occupations, and other workers in religious occupations or vocations employed by religious nonprofit organizations in the U.S.
R Visa holders may be admitted for a temporary period of time of three years, and in total not to exceed five years. The applicant must have been a member of the religious organization for a period of 2 years prior to the application. After working for 2 years for the religious organization, an applicant can apply for permanent residency under the “special immigrant religious” category.
An S Visa is for a cooperating witness or informant in a criminal investigation.
A T Visa is for victims of trafficking in individual.
Professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Mexico and Canada only) may work in a professional occupation in a NAFTA country provided that:
1.The profession is on the NAFTA list.
2.The alien possesses the specific criteria for that profession.
3.The prospective position requires someone in that professional capacity.
4.The alien is going to work for a U.S. employer.
The spouse and unmarried minor children of the principal alien are entitled to the derivative status, but they are unable to accept employment in the U.S.
Transit without visa.
A V Visa allows the spouse or child of a U.S. lawful permanent resident to live and work in the U.S. with a non-immigrant Visa. They can wait in the U.S. until they are able to apply for lawful permanent residence status or for an immigrant visa, instead of having to wait outside the U.S., as the law previously required.
EXTENSION OF STAY IN THE UNITED STATES
A foreign national may apply for an extension of a temporary stay provided certain requirements are met.
CHANGE IN NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS
Changes in status may be granted provided the alien is eligible and has not violated any immigration laws.
The process of obtaining a non-immigrant or immigrant visa from outside the United States.
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