In general, Nonimmigrants, unlike, immigrants, enter the US for a temporary period of time and are restricted to the activity consistent with their visas. Unlike immigrants, however, they are less subject to numerical restrictions.
The different types of non-immigrant visas are:
B1, Visitor for Business
A visitor for business is an alien who intends to conduct business in the United States which benefits a foreign employer, not in the nature of employment. He may not engage in local employment, nor displace a resident American worker, nor receive any direct renumeration for services from a United States source. The B1 visitor may initially be admitted to the United States for a maximum period of one year until the purpose of the trip has been completed, and may apply for extension of stay.
B2, Visitor for Pleasure
A visitor for pleasure is an alien admitted for a personal visit to friends or relatives, on holiday or for tourism. The initial period of admission is typically six months but extensions may be available in appropriate circumstances. Visitors may not engage in employment in the United States.
Visa Waiver Program
Pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program, nationals from a list of 27 countries, so designated, based upon the low rate of non-immigrant visa refusals, have been permitted to enter the United States as visitors for business or pleasure without first obtaining visas. Individuals permitted under this program are permitted to remain in the United States for a maximum period of 90 days without any further extensions made available.
Visa Waiver countries include:
Andorra Austria Australia Belgium Brunei Denmark Finland France Germany Iceland Ireland Italy Japan Liechtenstein Luxembourg Monaco Netherlands New Zealand Norway Portugal San Marino Singapore Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
E-1, Treaty Trader/E-2 Treaty Investor/ E-3, Australian Speciality Workers
E-1, Treaty Trader
A treaty trader is an alien who enters the United States in pursuance of the provisions of a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and the foreign country of which the alien is a national. The E-1 visa holder must be coming solely to carry on substantial trade between the United States and the foreign country of which he is a national. He must also intend to return to the home country once the purpose of the admission has been accomplished. The initial period of stay is one year and extensions of stay are possible.
E-2, Treaty Investor
An alien who enters pursuant to the provisions of a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and the foreign country of which he is a national, and is coming to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the alien has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital qualifies for E-2 status.
Australians citizens/nationals who are seeking employment in a speciality occupation requiring possession of a Bachelor’s degree or higher( or its equivalent) qualify for E-3 status.
F-1, Academic Student
Bona fide students qualified to pursue a full course of study in an educational program, who seek to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study at an established institution of learning which has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security for attendance by the foreign students qualify for F-1 status. Students are generally admitted for “duration of status”, i.e defined to include the program of study, any period of practical training authorized, plus an additional sixty days.
HI-A : Nurses
Atemporary program has allowed for aliens with appropriate qualifications to be employed temporarily in the United States performing services as registered nurses. Special rules apply to institutions seeking to petition for foreign nurses.
HI-B : Speciality Occupation Workers
An alien coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in a “speciality occupation” qualifies for this status upon approval of a petition filed by a sponsoring employer. This category includes all qualified professionals and can also be used for visiting faculty, highly skilled specialists and consultants. H1-B aliens are initially admitted for a period of three years and though extensions may be obtained in appropriate circumstances, the statute places a limit of six years on a single uninterrupted stay in H1-B status.
There is a numerical limitation on how many new H1 approvals can be issued in any fiscal year (October through September).
Labor Condition Attestation Application
A labor condition attestation application is a prerequisite to the filing of an H1-B application. This application which has to be filed with the department of labor provides the title and the salary for the position and location where the non-immigrant visa will work. It is an assertion that:
- The actual wage level paid to other employees or the prevailing wage (whichever is higher) is being paid,
- That the employment will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers similarily employed
- That there is not a strike, lockout or work stoppage involved in this employment and that notice of filing has been provided to the bargaining representative .
H-2A,B :Temporary Worker
This category is applicable to aliens coming temporarily to perform temporary services or labor, provided that unemployed persons capable of performing such services cannot be found in the United States. The initial period of admission is, as authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor, one year.
H-3 : Trainee
A trainee is an alien coming temporarily to the United States for training together with the spouse and minor children of such alien at the invitation of an individual, organization, firm or other trainer in any field of endeavor, including agriculture, commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation and the professions as well as in a purely industrial establishment.
An alien is admitted in I-status, upon a reciprocity basis, as a bona fide representative of a foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media, who seeks to enter the United States solely to engage in such vocation.
An alien who is a bona fide student, scholar, trainee, teacher, professor, research assistant, specialist, or leader in the field of specialized knowledge or skill, coming temporarily as a participant in a program designated by the United States Information Agency for the purpose of teaching, instructing, lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, practical training, etc. in an approved exchange program. The initial period of admission is as specified in Program Form DS2019.
K-Fiance/e of U.S. Citizen
K-1 Status- Fiance or Fiancee of U.S.Citizens
This visa category applies to those engaged to be married to U.S. citizens who seek to enter the United States solely to conclude a valid marriage with the U.S. citizen petitioner, within 90 days after entry and the minor children of such persons.
K-3 Status- Spouse of United States Citizens
This visa classification is available to individuals for whom a United States citizen spouse has filed an immigrant visa petition which remains pending.
L-1, Intra-company Transferee
An L-1 intra-company transferee is an alien who, during the three year period immediately preceding the time of his or her application for admission into the United States, has been employed for one year by a firm or a corporation or other legal entity (or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof) and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to continue to render his services to the same employer (or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof) in a capacity which is managerial, executive or involves specialized knowledge. The L-1 petition filed with USCIS may be granted with an initial validity of up to three years.
M- Non-academic Student
Bona fide students seeking to enter the United States to pursue a full course of study at an established or other recognized non-academic institution, other than in a language training program, qualify for M-1 visas.
N, Relatives of Employees of Certain International Organizations
Certain relatives of long-term employees of the United Nations and other international organizations are eligible to remain in the United States under this provision.
O-1, O-2 – Extraordinary Ability
O-1, Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
O-1 visas are issued to aliens of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business and atheletics, as demonstrated by ‘sustained national or international acclaim’ whose entry the Attorney General believes will “substantially benefit prospectively” the United States.
O-2, Assistants to Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
O-2 visas are issued to aliens entering for the purpose of assisting the performance of an alien of extraordinary ability must establish that they are an integral part of the performance because of critical skills or long-standing relationship with the principal performing alien.
P-1, Athletes and Entertainers/ P-2 Athletes and Entertainers (Exchange)/ P-3 Athletes and Entertainers (Cultural)
Athletes and entertainers, in the case of athletes performing as individuals or groups and entertainers performing a group recognized at an international level are issued P-1 visas. Athletes and entertainers entering the United States to perform under reciprocal exchange programs are issued P-2 visas. Athletes and entertainers to perform in a culturally-unique program, requiring consultation with the union, are issued P-3 visas.
Q, Cultural Exchange
Aliens entering the United States to participate in designated international cultural exchange programs that provide practical training, employment and sharing of culture may obtain Q visas.
R, Religious Occupations
Certain religious workers entering the United States to perform religious work or work for a religious organization, who have bona fide membership in a religious denomination for at least two years preceding the application, qualify for R visas.
A special visa category was created for nationals of the countries of Canada/New Mexico under the North American Free Trade Association.