Non-Immigrant Visas

Nonimmigrant visas are temporary visas, and are issued at U.S. embassies and consulates. In order to qualify for a non-immigrant visa, the applicant must convince the consulate or embassy that he or she will not remain in the United States following the expiration of the authorized stay. Although most categories of nonimmigrant visas are not subject to annual quotas, some categories (including the H-1B visa) are limited.

Possession of a valid visa does not guarantee entrance into the United States. An immigration officer at the U.S. point of entry will make the final determination as to entrance.

Nonimmigrant visas are usually issued relatively quickly after application.

Foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States for reasons other than employment may qualify for a range of non-immigrant visas, including:

  • Tourist visas (B-2);

  • Business visitor visas (B-1);

  • Student visas (F-1, M-1)

Additionally, the visas issued to certain workers such as holders of H-1B visas (for skilled professionals) or L-1 visas (for intracompany transfers), are non-immigrant visas. An H-1B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that you can seek permanent residency in the United States while present on a H-1B visa without jeopardizing your status or ability to leave and re-enter the United States.

Notice: Immigration laws and regulations can change very quickly, and you should not rely upon this article to reflect the latest changes in the law. Obtaining a non-immigrant visa can be complicated, and visa applications may be denied. While many individuals successfully navigate the application process on their own, it is often beneficial to utilize a qualified immigration attorney.

Copyright © 2002 Aaron Larson, All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the author of the article you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.

This article was last reviewed or amended on Nov 7, 2014.