U.S. immigration laws provide for many different temporary “nonimmigrant” visa categories, generally based upon employment.
Common Examples of Nonimmigrant Visas
Nonimmigrant visas are issued for a specific limited duration for a specific purpose. Here are some common examples:
- B-1/B-2 Visitors, Domestic Workers, and Other Travelers
- C-1/D Pilots and Other Crewmembers
- E-1 Treaty Traders
- E-2 Treaty Investors
- E-3 Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
- F-1 Students
- H-1B Specialty Occupation Professionals
- H-1B1 Specialty Occupation Professionals from Chile and Singapore
- H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers
- H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers
- J-1 Cultural-Exchange
- L-1 Intracompany Transferees as Multinational Managers, Executives, or Specialized Knowledge Employees
- O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability
- P Artists, Athletes, and Entertainers
- Trade NAFTA (TN) Professionals from Canada and Mexico
With certain exceptions, primarily for treaty visas or Canadians, the typical petition and application procedure for a nonimmigrant visa and securing nonimmigrant visa status in the United States would generally involve:
- Petition filed by Employer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Application for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad by Employee as a beneficiary of an approved petition with a USCIS Form I-797 Approval Notice. The duration of the physical visa stamp in the passport is determined by “visa reciprocity” established by the U.S. Department of State. Along with a valid passport, a valid visa is generally required for international travel, unless qualifying for Automatic Visa Revalidation or the Contiguous Territories Rule.
- Travel to the United States and Admission by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the issuance of a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. This I-94 record is actually what controls a nonimmigrant visa holder’s status in the United States, not the physical visa stamp which is merely the international travel document. The visa duration is also different from the period of admission by CBP. For example, even if an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa has substantially greater or lesser validity remaining, CBP should admit a noncitizen traveling on a valid E-2 visa for a period of two (2) years or up to the expiration date of the traveler’s passport, whichever is sooner. Significant immigration issues can occur if assumptions are made about I-94 validity, resulting in an inadvertent overstay potentially triggering a bar on immigration benefits. Therefore, it’s important to check that CBP properly completed the I-94 record after each arrival to ensure proper admission classification (i.e. E-2) and proper duration (i.e. 2 years or passport expiration) for the principal applicant and all dependent family members.
Please first consult with a business immigration attorney to determine the appropriate U.S. immigration strategy, category, and filing procedure specific to the qualifications of the U.S. employer and current or prospective employee.
The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.