Non Immigrant Visas

There are many foreign nationals who, while either not eligible for or seeking lawful permanent resident status, would still like to be present within the United States, either for occupational or recreational purposes. Visas issued for these purposes are known as non-immigrant visas, meaning that they are being issued to foreign nationals who seek to be present in the United States not as permanent immigrants, but rather as temporary visitors. The temporary nature of this stay could be as short as one month, or for many years, if one is not authorized to remain here permanently, and there is an expiration to one’s non-immigrant status.

The most common type and well known non-immigrant visa is the B1/B2, or “tourist visa.” This visa is issued to foreign nationals who are coming to the United States temporarily for recreational (e.g. vacationing), or business (e.g., attending a conference or meeting) purposes.

These visas are issued for usually no more than six months, and sometimes for as short as four weeks.

A list and short explanation of other non-immigrant visas that are more common is provided:

H-1B Visa (Specialty Occupation): This visa is issued to foreign nationals who are offered a position to work for a United States company in a specialty occupation. The position must require its holder to have been granted a Bachelor’s Degree related to the specialty occupation offered, and it must be the sort of occupation that only individuals with a degree are hired for.

F Visa (Students): These visas are issued to foreign nationals who have been accepted into United States academic institutions. The visas are usually issued to last for the duration of the academic program the student is enrolled in, such as a four-year Bachelor’s program or a two-year Master’s program.

L Visa: If a foreign company has a branch, affiliate or subsidiary within the United States, an executive or manager of the company may be admitted to the United States via an L-1A Visa. This visa enables the individual to serve in the same executive or managerial capacity over the United States branch. Alternatively, if the individual is not an executive or manager, but has specialized knowledge particular for that company, such person may be admitted to the United States to work in the company’s United States branch on an L-1B Visa.

E Visa: The E-1, or Treaty Trader Visa, is for those foreign nationals who are coming to the United States to engage in trade. To qualify, the foreign national must be a citizen of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, the foreign national must own a business that carries on substantial trade, and the principal trade that the foreign national’s business carries out must be between the United States and the foreign national’s country.

The second type of E Visa, known as the E-2, or Treaty Investor Visa, is for those foreign nationals of a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the

United States, have invested or are in the process of investing capital with the United States, and are entering the United States for the sole purpose of directing and managing this investment.

O Visa: This visa is reserved for those foreign nationals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business or athletics. The achievements of the foreign nationals who are eligible for this visa must be in their field of expertise, and they must show that they are in the small percentage who have risen to the top of their field. The foreign national must work within this field upon arrival within the United States.