Non Immigrant Visas

The Legal Guidance You Need to Obtain the Nonimmigrant Visa You Desire

There are numerous types of nonimmigrant visas that allow you to come to the US for a temporary period of time and for a wide variety of different reasons—personal, educational, or business-related. The regulations and restrictions regarding each nonimmigrant visa vary drastically, but nonimmigrant visas are distinguished by the temporary nature of the visa-holder’s visit. Some of these visas may provide a path to permanent immigration, but each is valid for a specified duration, oftentimes with the potential to renew. Whether you’re looking to come to the United States for education, work, or other reasons, Attorney Linda M. Kaplan is here to help. The following are the nonimmigrant visa options that may be available to you.

  • B-2 – The B-2 visa is for visitors who are coming to the United States for pleasure. Individuals generally utilize the B-2 visa for things like vacation, visiting friends and family, attending special events like a wedding, receiving medical treatment, or attending some sort of musical or sporting events. The most common reason for denial of a B-2 visa is that the consular officer questions the temporary nature of your planned visit.
  • F-1 – The F-1 visa is available to full-time academic students. These students must be enrolled at an accredited school with a specific degree as their focus. In order to qualify for an F-1 visa, the student must be coming to the US to attend a college/university, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or another institute such as a language training program. The application procedure generally includes demonstrating acceptance at a qualifying school, enrollment in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS), submitting other relevant paperwork, and an interview with a consular officer.
  • J-1 – The J-1 visa applies to a wide variety of international exchange programs. Before applying for a J-1 visa, candidates must apply and be accepted into an exchange program sponsored by a qualifying organization. Examples of exchange visitors include the following: professors or scholars, research assistants, students, trainees, teachers, nannies/au pairs, and camp counselors  
  • M-1 – The M-1 visa is for vocational students who are seeking to come to the US to learn about a specific vocation or trade. Required qualifications are similar to those of the F-1 visa, but they apply to recognized nonacademic institutions other than foreign language training programs.
  • B-1 – The B-1 Visa is designated for temporary business visitors. For example, a manager coming to the United States to meet his team or conduct meetings will use this visa type. In some cases, the B-1 may be combined with the B-2 visa (discussed above) in order to allow the individual to visit the US for both business purposes and personal purposes such as sightseeing or visiting friends and loved ones.

          The B-1 visa is granted to allow one to participate in business activities such as:

Consulting with business associates

Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates

 Settling an estate or attending to other legal matters

 Negotiating a contract

Participating in short-term training

In some limited circumstances a B-1 may be issued in lieu of an H-1B visa.

  • E-1 / E-2 –Treaties between United States and many countries allow foreign persons to come to the United States to conduct trade (import/export activities) or to manage investments. Unlike the Immigrant Investor visa there is no fixed dollar amount for the investment. The E-1 visa is used to conduct trade between the United States and the country of nationality. The E-2 visa is used for overseeing investments in the U.S.

These visas are specifically for citizens of a Treaty Country and may be issued to owners of the business or employment of essential employees, managers or executives or those with highly specialized skills. Please see the following for an up to date list of treaty countries.  For more detailed information on the E-1 and E-2 visas, please click here

      • E-3 – The E-3 is similar to the H-1B visa but applies only to nationals of Australia. It is issued to Australian citizens who will work in a specialty occupations. A “Specialty Occupations” is defined as those occupations requiring theoretical or practical knowledge in a specialized field requiring academic credentials of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
      • H-1B – This is a highly sought- after visa for professional or specialty occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree in a professional field. This visa is currently capped at 65,000 with an additional 20,000 available under the advanced degree exemption. The quotas for applications are quickly reached each year. For more in- depth information regarding the H-1B visa category, please click here. 
      • H-1B1 – This visa is similar to the H-1B described above, with one key difference. It is only applicable to citizens of Singapore and Chile. H-1B1 visas are currently capped at 6,800 per year, with 1,400 from Chile and 5,400 from Singapore. These visas are valid for an initial period of up to 3 years.
      • H-2 – Agricultural employers in the US who anticipate a shortage of US workers for a specific season or temporary period of time may seek to employment foreign nationals through the H-2A visa. Employment can last no longer than one year and cannot adversely affect the wages or working conditions of similar US workers. Similarly, the H-2B Visa may be used when a non-agricultural employer faces a shortage of willing or qualified US employees for temporary work. Employment for the H-2B must include a specified area of intended employment, and also cannot adversely affect the wages or conditions of similar US workers.
      • H-3 – The H-3 is a visa for trainees who are coming to the US in order to receive training that is not available in their home country. This visa does not apply for graduate or medical education. The training should be job-related and the trainee must intend to go back to their home country after it is completed. Additionally, the H-3 visa may apply to individuals seeking to participate in an exchange program specifically for special education of children facing physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
      • I – I Visas are for foreign media representatives coming to the US to cover news or other events. It may be applicable to any member of a media team, such as photographers, cameramen, reporters, editors, etc. It is available to media teams working in various types of outlets, such as radio, television, film, etc. I Visa applicants must demonstrate that they are a bona fide representative of a foreign media outlet with a home office in that foreign country. Oftentimes, there will be no end date for I Visas so long as the individual continues working for the same employer.
      • L – The L Visa is for multinational managers, executives and those transferees with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s business. This visa applies to individuals who have worked for at least one year in the last three years at a foreign company with a qualifying relationship (parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate) to a US company. The applicant’s petition must be sponsored by the U.S. company which can be an existing company or a newly formed business. For more in depth details regarding the L Visa category, please click here.
      • O – Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
        •    The O-1A visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, education, business, or athletics
        • The O-1B is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or achievements in television or motion pictures
        •    The O-2 visa is for individuals who will accompany O-1’s as essential personnel (O-2) and immediate family members (O-3) who can accompany the extraordinary abilities individual.

This is a very subjective visa category, with applicants being required to demonstrate that they have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.

  •  P Visa – Athletes, Artists and Entertainers – The P Visa is for artists and entertainers who want to come to America to perform. It comes in several subcategories, including the P-1A for internationally recognized athletes, the P-1B for members of an internationally recognized entertainment group, P-2 for performers or group members who are part of a reciprocal entertainment exchange program, and P-3 for artists and entertainers who are coming to the U.S. to be part of a culturally unique program. Generally speaking, the artist or entertainer must be coming to the US for a specific event, tour or presentation and can only stay for the duration of the scheduled event.
  • Q –  The Q Visa is for individuals who want to participate in Exchange Programs. It is similar to the J-1 Visa listed above which is for educational and cultural exchange programs sponsored by the Department of State. The Q visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS. It is usually sponsored by an employer, and is also intended for the purpose of providing practical training and employment and to share the history, culture, and traditions of your home country with the US. Q Visas may be issued for up to 15 months.
  • TN – The TN visa is a professional visa under the NAFTA free trade agreement specifically intended for citizens of Canada and Mexico. It is only applicable for specified professions including accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. Employment must be prearranged with a US employer and can be full-time or part-time. TN professionals must be qualified to work in the position for which they are coming to the US, and the initial period of stay may last for up to 3 years. Eligibility requirements vary based on whether you are a Canadian citizen or a Mexican citizen.

Every nonimmigrant visa has unique requirements and restrictions. If you are interested in pursuing any form of nonimmigrant visa, whether for yourself, a loved one, or as a business sponsoring a visa petition for an employee, you should always consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney like Linda M. Kaplan to ensure legal compliance and to give yourself the best opportunity to receive these often highly-competitive and limited nonimmigrant visas. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation