There are many types of non-immigrant visas for temporary visitors to travel to the U.S. when you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. The purpose of your intended travel and certain other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law.
The most common visa classifications include:
U.S. immigration law allows foreign nationals to visit the U.S. for business, medical treatment or pleasure. These visas usually allow a stay in the USA for six months, but can be granted for up to one year. (B-1) Business Visitor visas allow individuals to visit the U.S. to participate in commercial transactions such as contract negotiations and consultations, so long as they do not receive a salary or remuneration. (B-2) Visitor Visas are granted for visits related to recreational activities, tourism or medical treatment.
Students and Trainees
Students and trainees who wish to obtain nonimmigrant visas must be registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor Immigration System (SEVIS) program. SEVIS requires the institution to report certain information about the student, including when they complete a program of study.
- (F) Student Visas allow foreign citizens to attend a U.S. institution of learning. This includes undergraduate, postgraduate, post-secondary non-vocational, elementary, middle school and high school levels, as well as other eligible courses of study. Student visas are valid for the duration of studies;
- (M) Student Visas are reserved for students who will be attending vocational or technical schools in the United States;
- (J) Exchange Visitor Visas are for professors, research scholars, trainees or interns, certain university students, teachers, camp counselors and au pairs, among others.
Nonimmigrant visas can also allow foreign citizens to work temporarily in the United States. The most common nonimmigrant worker visas include:
- E – Treaty Traders (E-1) or Treaty Investors (E-2). Suitable for nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation to come to the United States to carry on substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country (E-1) or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the person has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of money (E-2).
- H-1B Visa – Reserved for individuals in specialty occupations, fashion models, and employees of the U.S. Department of Defense. Specialty occupations are those where theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge is needed, as well as a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience;
- H-1C – Nurses working in Health Professional Shortage Area;
- H-2A – Temporary agricultural workers;
- H-2B – Temporary non-agricultural workers;
- H-3 – Trainees;
- H-4 – Accompanying spouses and children;
- I Visas – Foreign media, press and radio;
- L Visas – Intra-company transferees. Suitable for persons who worked (and will continue to work) in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A), or in a position involving specialized knowledge (L-1B visa);
- O Visas – Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics;
- P Visas – Performing athletes, artists and entertainers;
- Q Visas – International cultural exchange visitors;
- R Visas – Religious workers.
Certain family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can also obtain nonimmigrant visas. These include:
- Fiancé (K-1) Visas – Fiancés of U.S. citizens who will marry the US citizen within 90 days of entry.
- Spouse (K-3) Visas – Spouses of U.S. citizens where the spouse seeks to enter the U.S. whilst awaiting the resolution of the pending immigration petition filed by their U.S. citizen spouse.
- Spouse / Children of LPRs (V) – Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents.