Non-Immigrant Working Visas

A working visa allows a non-immigrant to temporarily work and reside within the United States. Visa categories are based on the beneficiary’s education, industry, and skills.

E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
H-1B Temporary Work Visa
H-2A Agricultural Work Visa
H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Work
H-3 Non-Immigrant Trainee
L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
L-1B Intracompany Transferee with Specialized Knowledge
R-1 Religious Visa
TN TN Mexican and Canadian Citizens
O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
O-2 Individuals Accompanying an O-1 Candidate as an Integral Part of their Ability or Achievement
P-1 Internationally Recognized Athletes or an Entertainment Group
P-2 Performer or Group Performing Under Reciprocal Exchange Program
P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program

A principal beneficiary is the individual on whose behalf a visa petition is filed.

A derivative beneficiary is the spouse or child of the principal beneficiary who is not directly petitioned for but eligible to benefit from the approved petition and accompany or follow-to-join the principal beneficiary.


To change, extend, or maintain non-immigrant status while in the United States, file a request with USCIS on the appropriate form before the current authorized stay expires. For example, if a tourist wants to become a student, they must submit an application to change their status. It is recommended that to apply as soon it is determined a change to occur.

Until approved, do not change your activity in the United States. For example, if currently a nonimmigrant tourist, do not begin attending school as a student until authorization from USCIS has been received. A failure to maintain non-immigrant status may bar a person from returning to and/or may remove (deport) them from the United States. Your authorized status and the date your status expires can be found in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record.

In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.

You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted into the United States for business reasons (B-1 visa category ) and you wish to remain in the United States for pleasure before your authorized stay expires.

You do not need to apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you wish to attend school in the United States, and you are the spouse or child of someone who is currently in the United States in any of the following nonimmigrant visa categories:

  • Diplomatic and other government officials, and employees (A visa category)
  • International trade and investors (E visa)
  • Representatives to international organizations and their employees (G visa)
  • Temporary workers (H visa)
  • Representatives of foreign media (I visa)
  • Exchange visitors (J visa)
  • Intracompany transferees (L visa)
  • Academic (F visa) or vocational (M visa) students (you may attend elementary, middle or high school only: if you want to attend post-secondary school full-time you must apply for a change of status).

You may not apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted to the United States in the following categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program· Crew member (D visa)
  • In transit through the United States (C visa)
  • In transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV)
  • Fiancé of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiancé (K visa)
  • Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S visa)

If you are a vocational student (M-1), you may not apply to change your status to a(n):

  • Academic student (F-1)
  • Any H status (Temporary worker), if the training you received as a vocational student in the United States provided the qualifications for the temporary worker position you seek.

If you are an international exchange visitor (J-1), you may not change your nonimmigrant status if:

  • You were admitted to the United States to receive graduate medical training unless you receive a special waiver.
  • You are an exchange visitor and are required to meet the foreign residence requirement unless you receive a waiver.

If you do not receive a waiver, you may only apply to change to a diplomatic and other government officials (A visa) or representatives of international organizations (G visa).


The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) allows an H-1B worker to change employers and begin working for the new employer as soon as the new employer has filed an H-1B change of employer petition. It is important that the H-1B worker be in valid H-1B status when switching employers. Also, the H-1B worker must work in the same occupation.