A Brief Guide to Nonimmigrant Visas

Under most circumstances, a foreign national (who is not a lawful permanent resident of the United States) who seeks to enter the U.S. usually obtain a visa to allow them to do so. Visas to the U.S. are broken up into two main categories: immigrant and nonimmigrant.

The main difference between these two categories is characterized by whether or not the visa holder will be remaining in the U.S. permanently or for a temporary period of time. Foreign nationals with a permanent residence outside the U.S. who want to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis will apply for a nonimmigrant visa, while those who wish to permanently reside in the U.S. will seek to obtain an immigrant visa.

There are numerous types of both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, and in this blog we will provide you with a brief introduction to the various kinds of nonimmigrant visas. Since there are numerous different types of nonimmigrant visas currently available, depending on the circumstances of the visit to the US, we have broken these nonimmigrant visas up into 11 general categories.

Temporary Work Visas

This is one of the more common nonimmigrant visas, with visas like the H-1B, TN, E-3 visas, which allow foreign nationals to come to the US to work for a temporary period of time.

Temporary Visitor Visas

Anyone foreign national who wants to simply visit the US, either for business or pleasure, must first obtain a nonimmigrant visa (B-1 for business, B-2 for pleasure). For example, someone who wanted to take a vacation or go sightseeing in the US would need a B-2 visa.

Training Visas

This category includes the J-1 and H-3 visas, which allow foreign nationals to come to the US to receive job-related training that they could not have received in their own country. These skills are not meant to aid them with employment in the US, but to provide them with the knowledge to perform work outside the US.

Student Visas

These visas are for the purpose of coming to the United States to receive an education. They may be used for academic students (F-1 visa), vocational students (M-1 visa), or for a student exchange (J-1 visa).

Athlete and Entertainer Visas

A P visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows internationally recognized athletes and entertainers to come to the US to participate in specific athletic events or perform in specific shows or other venues. They may only stay in the US for the duration of the event or performance.

Intra-Company Transferee Visas

These visas allow companies that operate in both the US and internationally to transfer employees from international offices to US offices if they perform executive/managerial functions (L-1A), or if they have specialized knowledge (L-1B).

Extraordinary Ability Visas

Visas like the O-1A and O-1B allow individuals with recognized exceptional abilities well beyond those of average citizens in various categories like the sciences, education, athletics, art, and film to enter the US to perform specific temporary duties, such as a famed foreign filmmaker coming to the US to film a new movie.

Fiance Visas

The fiance of a US citizen and his or her minor children may come to the US on a K-1 visa for the purpose of holding the wedding.

Religious Worker Visas

Those who want to temporarily work in the US for a recognized, nonprofit religious organization must obtain a separate temporary work visa from the other types of temporary work visas, called the R-1 visa.

Treaty Investor/Treaty Trader Visas

These visas, known as E-1 and E-2 visas, allow citizens of countries with which the US has trade treaties to enter the US to either work for a business they control that performs substantial trade with the treaty country, or to substantially invest in a business in the US which they control.

Visas for Victims of Crimes

There are a couple of specific nonimmigrant visas, namely the U and T visa, that are reserved for victims of mental or physical abuse who are aiding police in prosecuting a crime, or victims of human trafficking who are willing to assist law enforcement.

To learn more about nonimmigrant visa, or to begin the process of applying for a nonimmigrant visa for yourself, please contact the law firm of Saleh and Associates today!


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What is a Nonimmigrant Classification?

If the CBP officer grants the person admission into the U.S., the officer will use the classification listed on the visa to determine the period of authorized admission.

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