Nonimmigrant Visas

What is a Nonimmigrant?

A nonimmigrant is an alien who has been granted the right by the USCIS to reside temporarily in the United States. Each nonimmigrant is admitted into the United States in the nonimmigrant status, which corresponds to the class of visa with which, or purpose for which, he entered the United States.

Aliens in some nonimmigrant statuses are allowed to be employed in the United States, and others are not. Some nonimmigrant statuses have rigid time limits for the alien’s stay in the United States, while others do not.

Each nonimmigrant status has rules and guidelines, which must be followed in order for the nonimmigrant to remain “in status.” A nonimmigrant who violates one of these rules or guidelines will fall “out of status.” A nonimmigrant who remains “out of status” for at least 180 days is deportable and will be unable to re-enter the United States for 3 years. A nonimmigrant who remains “out of status” for at least 365 days is deportable and will be unable to re-enter the United States for 10 years.

Nonimmigrant Visas: A nonimmigrant visa allows a nonimmigrant to enter the United States in one of several different categories, which correspond to the purpose for which the nonimmigrant is being admitted to the United States. For example, a foreign student will usually enter the United States on an F-1 visa, a visitor for business on a B-1 visa, an exchange visitor (including students, teachers, researchers, trainees, alien physicians, au pairs, and others) on a J-1 visa, a diplomat on an A or G visa, etc.

The categories of nonimmigrant visas correspond exactly to the “nonimmigrant status” assigned to each nonimmigrant upon his arrival, based on the purpose for which the nonimmigrant was admitted to the United States.

General Requirements

The general requirements nonimmigrant visas vary depending on the visa but generally include but are not limited to the following:

  • The purpose of the visit must be temporary
  • The foreign national must intend to and agree to depart at the end of the period of authorized stay or any extension thereof
  • Valid passport
  • Maintain foreign residence (in many cases)
  • May be required to show proof of financial support
  • Must be admissible or have obtained a waiver for any grounds of inadmissibility
  • Abide by the terms and conditions of admission
  • Nonimmigrant must show their visit is temporary and that they intend to return home after their period of authorized stay.

Common Types of Nonimmigrant Visas

Visitor Visa: A visitor’s visa can be issued for temporary business, tourism, pleasure, medical treatment, participation in social events or a combination of both business and pleasure.

Fiancé(e) And Spousal Visa: A visa category exists which allows a nonimmigrant fiancé or spouse (and children) to enter the U.S. for the purpose of marrying within 90 days of entering the U.S. There are several requirements which much first be met to be eligible for a fiancé’ visa. See webpage for fiancé visas.

Exchange Visitor Visas: There are two categories of nonimmigrant visas which allow foreign nationals to participate in exchange visitor programs. A J visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State. The Q visa is for cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS.

Temporary Work Visas: An employer may wish to hire a foreign national to perform temporary work or labor services, or for training may seek a nonimmigrant visa for these purposes. In most cases, workers who come to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant work visa must leave the U.S. when their period of stay has been reached. In some circumstances, an extension of stay or change of status may be granted.

Student Visa: There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the U.S. One which allows nonimmigrant the ability to pursue academic studies or language training programs and the other to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies.