Non-Immigrant Visas

Nonimmigrant visas are temporary visas, issued at U.S. embassies and consulates, that allow the applicant to lawfully enter the United States for purposes other than immigration.

Qualifying for a Non-Immigrant Visa

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.

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)

Nonimmigrant visas are usually issued relatively quickly after application.

Although most categories of nonimmigrant visas are not subject to annual quotas, some categories (including the H-1B visa) are limited.

Benefits of a Visa

Possession of a valid visa enables the visa holder to lawfully enter the United States. However, the mere possession of a 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.

The visas issued to certain workers such as holders of L-1 visas (for intracompany transfers), are non-immigrant visas. An H-1B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that a person who holds a H-1B visa may seek permanent residency in the United States without jeopardizing his or her H-1B status or ability to leave and re-enter the United States.

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 Apr 12, 2018.