US Non Immigrant Visas
If you need to travel to the United States for an employment, business or education purposes, you need to obtain a proper visa. All non immigrant visas are issued by U.S. Embassy or consulate located abroad.
There are many nonimmigrant visa types for people traveling to the United States temporarily. The type of Visa you need is determined by the purpose of your intended travel that could be visit, study, work etc. you may find additional information by visiting FAQ page and clicking on “What is the right visa for me” Everybody is required to obtain NIV or nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. consular post with exception of parolees, Canadians seeking entry in categories other than E-1 and E-2, and nonimmigrants from specific countries who are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. For more information and evaluation of case specific information contact us to talk with an experienced immigration attorney.
Non-Immigrant visa categories
Please remember that it is imperative to consult a competent immigration counsel about your particular matter.
There are many types of non immigrant visas, the most popular ones are listed below:
A visa is used for foreign government officials, their families, servants and employees.
B1/B2 visa is the most common non immigrant visa and used for business and pleasure visitors.
E1 is treaty trade visa. E1 visa is beneficial for an individual who comes to the United States for the purpose of
international trade activity. A treaty must exist between an individual's country and the United States and an individual must be national of that country. An individual must demonstrate that the United States business has created substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country.
E2 is a treaty investor visa. The E2 visa allows an individual to come to the United States for the purpose of developing and directing the operation of an enterprise in which he/she has invested or in process of investing a substantial amount of capital. There is no specific cash flow threshold defined, but the investment must entail some "risk" to investor.
For both E1/E2 visas you must have an applicable treaty between your country and the United States. Initial stay for 2 years with up to two years per extension. No limit in number of extensions, with some exceptions.
F visa is used for academic students. F2 visa is for your dependent (spouse/child).
For Foreign Medical Graduates you should check H-1B, J1, O1, TN, E-2 and consult an immigration attorney to evaluate your particular matter.
H-1B is used for specialty occupations, DOD workers and fashion models.
To qualify for "specialty occupation" visa, an individual must have at least a Bachelor Degree or a combination of education and work experience in the specialty occupation can be considered equivalent to a degree. For a fashion models a degree is not required.
Please note that there is the annual "cap" on H-1B visas. Currently, the cap is 65,000 per year and it is reached quickly. Recent addition of 20,000 H-1B is available for persons with a U.S. Master's Degree or higher. Spouses and children of H-1B holders are not authorized to work. Children may attend school without a problem.
Normally, approved for three years with possibility of extension. A maximum limit of H-1B is 6 years, after which it cannot be extended or changed, until an alien has lived outside of the U.S. for at least one year.
H-1C is used for nurses who will be employed up to three years in health professional shortage areas.
H-2A is a temporary visa for agricultural workers.
H-2B is used for temporary skilled or unskilled workers.
H-3 may be used for trainee.
I visa is a journalist visa and used for foreign media representatives.
J visa is used for exchange visitors. The main purpose of J visa is gaining work experience, doing research or
studying. After the conclusion of exchange visitor program, an individual is expected to return to his/her country in order to utilize acquired experience and skills. J visa may trigger the 2 years foreign residence requirement forcing the J visa holder to return to her/his home country for two years.
K-1 visa is generally used for Fiancé. Read more below.
K-3 is for spouses of U.S. citizen residing abroad. Read more below.
L visas are available for employees of the international company with offices in both a home country and the U.S.
or which intend to start an office in the United States, while maintaining their home country interests. To qualify for a L visa, the U.S. company to which you are being transferred must be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of your non U.S. employerand you must be employed as a manager, executive or person with specialized knowledge abroad for at least 12 months within the proceeding 3 years in that capacity.
Generally, L visa is approved for 3 years with possibility of extension.
L1-A visa is used for intra company transferee, it may be available to executive or manager1A and is valid for up to 7
years. L-1B visa is used for persons with specialized knowledge and skills with the company's products/procedure/process and is valid for 5 years.
L visa is beneficial to a spouse of a L visa holder, since he/she is allowed to apply for a work authorization and upon
obtaining it allowed to work in the U.S. without restrictions.
M visa is used for vocational or non academic student.
O visa is used for workers with extraordinary abilities in science, Art, education, business or athletics. There is no
educational requirement and an individual is judged based on his/her accomplishments and talents in particular field. An individual must demonstrate a record of success and recognitions in the field of endeavor.
P visa is used for Athletics and Entertainers.
Q visa is used for international cultural exchange visitors.
R visa is used for religious workers.
The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination for two years immediately preceding admission and it must a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the
U.S. R visa holder may remain in the U.S. for up to 5 years.
S is a visa for witness or informant.
T visa is for victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.
TN is a trade visa for Canadian and Mexicans nationals.
U is a visa for victims of certain crimes. Please read below under "who is eligible for a U visa".
V visa is used for spouse/child of a permanent resident who is principal beneficiary of a family based petition which
was filed prior to December 21, 2000 and has been pending for at least three years.
US Immigrant Visas
Permanent residence status may be conferred through issuance of an immigrant visa IV by an American consular post abroad. An immigrant visa applicant must be in one of the following categories and is eligible to receive IV or immigrant visa if:
A) An applicant is a beneficiary of an approved family based petition or employment based preference classification;
B) An applicant is a derivative family member such as spouse or unmarried minor child under 21 of preference nonimmigrants;
C) An applicant is entitled to special immigrant status under INA section 101(a) (27);
D) An applicant qualifies for a visa under special legislation, such as the Diversity Visa Lottery Provision, the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992, Vietnam Amerasian program, or certain provisions of the Immigration Act.
In addition to meeting category requirement, there is worldwide numerical limitations, based on foreign state chargeability and the chronological order of the visa applicant’s priority date, therefore a visa number must be available and a visa applicant must be otherwise admissible.
If visa is denied, a waiver may be available. Waivers of inadmissibility are discretionary and most IV waivers require a specific showing of an extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or son or daughter and are available to overcome only some grounds of exclusion. For grounds such as conviction in aggravated felonies or drug addiction there are no wavers. Administrative review of consular decisions is available and regulations provide that a consular officer’s decision may be reviewed by the consular post by the chief of section, or referred to DOS in Washington, D.C. for advisory opinion.
For more information and evaluation of case specific information, call us to talk with an experienced immigration attorney.