Non Immigrant Visas

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residency.  The most common type of temporary visas to visit the United States are B-1 and B-2 visas, and the Visa Waiver Program.  Foreign nationals may also study in the United States with F-1, M-1, and J-1 temporary visas.  The most common types of temporary work visas in the United States include the E, H, L, O and P visas.  While temporary visas are generally limited in duration and purpose, they are processed in significantly shorter time than immigrant visas, and are appropriate for those who do not intend on living permanently in the United States, or those coming to work temporarily in the United States to fill a short-term need.

If the foreign national is outside the United States, we can assist you in applying for his/her visa abroad with the United States consulate in the person’s home country.  If the individual is already in the United States, we may be able to extend their status in the same category, or in some cases, change status to a different category with different privileges.

There are a number of statutes, regulations, policy memoranda, as well as court decisions that impact application for temporary visas. It is not just a matter of reading the instructions on the form.  Contact our office for experienced assistance in fulfilling your short term immigration needs.

Employment-Based Non-Immigrant Visas

Temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite.  Each of these visas requires the prospective employer to first file, and have approved, a non-immigrant visa petition.  There are a number of temporary work visa categories under which foreign nationals can apply.  The requirements for these visas are complex and require the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.  We are prepared to assist you in navigating through the intricacies of the application process.

E-1The Treaty Trader visa classification for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. The foreign national must be an essential employee citizen of a treaty country coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade and qualifying activities principally between the United States and the treaty country.

E-2The Treaty Investor visa classification for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains  treaties of commerce and navigation. The foreign national must be a citizen of a treaty country coming to the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he/she has invested a substantial amount of capital.

H-1BIndividuals in specialty occupations with highly specialized knowledge of a certain field or completion of a specific course of higher education. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability; and government-to-government research and development.

H-2AFor temporary or seasonal agricultural workers from designated countries.

H-2BTemporary or seasonal workers, not working in the agricultural sector from designated countries.

H-3: Foreign citizens who will receive training in the United States for purposes other than graduate medical or academic education, not available in the trainee’s home country.

IRepresentatives of the foreign media traveling temporarily to the United States to work in their profession.

LTo work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.

O: Persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields.

P-1Internationally recognized athletes or members of internationally recognized entertainment groups.

P-2Individual artists or entertainers who perform under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country.

P-3Reserved for artists, entertainers and performers who will perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally or ethnically unique.

Q-1Participants in an international cultural exchange program.

R-1Foreign national coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part-time to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

TVictims of severe forms of human trafficking.

UVictims of certain criminal activities that either occurred in the United States. Law enforcement certification required.

Temporary Visitors for Business, Pleasure or Medical Treatment

Business/Tourist Visitors:  B-1/B-2

The visitor or tourist visa is the most common non-immigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business, pleasure or medical treatment.  Travelers from certain eligible countries may also be able to visit without a visa, through the Visa Waiver Program.

Every time a foreign national applies for a tourist visa to the United States, that person must overcome the presumption that their intention is to immigrate to the United States.  This presumption is not always easy to overcome.  Indeed, for some it is nearly impossible.  There are numerous factors that tourist visa applicants must prove in order to overcome the intending immigrant presumption, including the purpose of the trip to the United States, the period of time they will remain in the United States, and residency and other binding ties in their home country.

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Immigration authorities have the authority to deny admission and determine the period for which the bearer of the visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States.  At the port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer must authorize the traveler’s admission to the United States.  The officer may admit a foreign national for up to one year with extensions of six months. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their must file an application for extension of their status before their status expires.

Exchange Visitors:  J-1 Visa
Exchange visitor visas are non-immigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. This visa type can be issued to the following categories of non-immigrants: trainees, students, professors, research scholars, non-academic specialists, foreign physicians, international visitors, teachers, government visitors, au pairs, and summer students in travel/work program.  The J-1 applicant must participate in an exchange visitor’s program that has been designated by U.S. Department of State, and whose participation includes such purposes as teaching, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting and receiving training.  All exchange visitors must travel to the United States with a J-1 visa and cannot travel for exchange program purposes on a tourist visa or under a Visa Waiver Program.

Students:  F-1 or M-1 Visas
Foreign students who will be attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or other academic institution in the United States must apply for an F-1 student visa. Foreign students who will be attending non-academic institutions and vocational programs must apply for M-1 student visas. Student visas require a significant amount of documentation, paperwork, and preparation. In addition, all foreign students must qualify for a student visa by meeting the immigration law requirements. These include 1) acceptance at a recognized academic school; 2) sufficient financial assets to pursue the course of study; 3) sufficient preparation for the course of study; and 4) intent to leave the United States after completing the course of study.  Students applying for F-1 visas will also have to complete an interview process at their country’s respective United States embassy or consulate.

The requirements to obtain visas are complex and require the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.  Without the help of a legal professional, the process of obtaining a visa can be drawn out and you may not be successful.  We are prepared to assist you in navigating through the intricacies of the application process, and are equipped with the legal resources and knowledge to help you succeed with your goals.