Other Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas allow visa holders to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time. This is a relatively quick way of entering the U.S. for specific purposes. Thus, the requirements and duration of time that the foreign national is allowed to stay may vary.

As a general rule, the holder of a non-immigrant visa is required to maintain a residence abroad and must return to the country of origin before the visa expires or within the period of time that the law permits. However, certain types of visas allow dual intent, which enables the visa holder to apply for permanent residency at the same time.

Some of these visas do require approval of a petition (E-3, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1, O, P temporary workers and K-1 fianceés), the existence of a program sponsor (J-1 exchange visitors), or admission to a program (F-1 and M-1 students) while other types simply require the foreign national to apply for the visa at the U.S. consulate (E-1 treaty traders or E-2 treaty investors) or at the port of entry (TN visas for Canadians).

In most situations, the visa holder (also known as principal beneficiary) may be accompanied by his or her spouse and children who are unmarried and below 21 years of age (also known as derivative beneficiaries). Generally, the spouse who accompanies as a derivative beneficiary cannot work; but in limited instances, the spouse of an E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, and L-1 visa holder can apply for employment authorization. A derivative beneficiary spouse may change into a work-authorized status on his or her own merit as long as there is a willing petitioner and all legal requirements are met.


There are two types of visitors’ visas – B-1 visa for business visitors and B-2 visa for tourists who come to the U.S. for pleasure. Visitors are granted a B-1/B-2 visa at the U.S. Consulate. The B-1/B-2 visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Depending on the purpose of the foreign citizen, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will determine the foreign citizen’s nonimmigrant status (whether it is a B-1 or B-2) and period of authorized stay.

Under the visa waiver program, nationals of certain countries need not apply for a visa to visit the United States. Visitors who enter under the visa waiver program are allowed a maximum stay of 90 days


The K-visa categories for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their accompanying minor children (K-1 and K-2 visas) were created to speed up the immigration process for such individuals so they could travel more quickly to the United States. By allowing a fiancé(e) and his/her accompanying minor children to be admitted to the United States as non-immigrants, fiancé(e)s can be spared a long separation from their intended spouse, while continuing their processing for an immigrant visa after the marriage takes place


F-1, J-1, and M-1 visas are granted to students, exchange visitors, and trainees who wish to continue their education in the United States.


Consular processing is available for individuals who have an approved immigrant or non-immigrant petition.

In the immigrant visa context, an immigrant visa number must be immediately available to an immigrant visa applicant. Forms are submitted to the National Visa Center. Once documents are complete the individual is scheduled for an interview at the U.S. consulate. The individual is given an immigrant visa to come to the United States and enter as a permanent resident.


S, T, and U visas are available respectively to law enforcement witnesses, victims of certain crimes, and human trafficking.