Non-immigrant visas can be issued for individuals coming to the United States on a temporary basis, such as for work, tourism, education, or for medical reasons. Unlike immigrant visas, these visas are intended for individuals traveling to the United States for a short period of time. Depending on your reasons for traveling, you may wish to seek a temporary work, business or pleasure, or education visa.
Individuals may obtain a temporary visa to allow them to work in the United States for a short period of time. In this instance, an employer must petition for the prospective employee to receive a visa. There are several types of visas for temporary workers. Each type allows you to perform a specific job within the United States. Some of these work visas are:
H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa: This visa allows individuals who are offered a position with a United States employer to work for that employer. The position must be one that usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent on years of employment. The H-1B is initially valid for three years and the holder is in valid status as long as you remain employed with the same employer in the same professional occupation. The maximum time an individual can remain in H-1B status is six years although further extensions could be granted if a labor certification (PERM) has been filed and is pending for more than 365 days, or if the PERM has been certified and the I-140 petition has been filed or approved. These extensions beyond the sixth year can be requested in three-year increments.
H-2A Agricultural Worker Visa: This visa allows agricultural workers to work in the United States in temporary or seasonal agricultural positions. An employer can file a petition covering one or multiple individuals. The visa is valid for a period of up to one year and can be extended but may not exceed three years. To obtain this visa, ETA Form 9142 must be electronically filed with the Department of Labor and certified prior to filing with the USCIS.
H-2B Unskilled Foreign Worker Visa: Individuals performing unskilled, non-agricultural work on a one-time need basis due to low United States worker availability, seasonal, peak load or intermittent needs are admitted on this visa. It also entails certification by the Department of Labor and the initial period of admission is to up to one year, although it may also be extended to three years.
H-3 Trainee Visa: This visa allows individuals to come to the United States to be trained by a United States company or organization. The training must be necessary for the individuals to use their skills abroad and the training cannot be available in their own country. The visa is valid for the duration of the training program but may not exceed two years.
TN VISA: TN status allows qualified citizens of Canada and Mexico to temporarily work in the United States for a United States employer under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The position offered to the foreign worker must be listed on a list of approvable occupations and the worker must demonstrate that he possesses the necessary credentials. Employment is temporary, and you must demonstrate an intention to return to your home country upon completion.
Mexican citizens must apply for TN status at a United States Consulate while Canadians can present their application at a Port of Entry.
Spouses and children under 21 years old of the principal TN applicant may obtain Trade Dependent (TD) status after establishing citizenship and bona fide familial relationship. They are not authorized to work but study is allowed.
If you intend to arrive in the United States for business reasons pertaining to your current job, or for tourism reasons you’ll want to apply for a B-1 or B-2 Visa. These types of visas are different than work visas due to the fact that you’re either traveling strictly for tourism purposes, or for specific reasons related to your existing job overseas.
B-1/B-2 Visas: Individuals entering the United States as visitors for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2) are admitted with this temporary nonimmigrant visa. They can remain in the United States until before the expiration of their authorized period of stay, Form I-94 (maximum six months) and must depart prior to said expiration date. Individuals admitted under this category are not allowed to work or study in the United States. Individuals that overstay their authorized period of stay accrue unlawful presence and are illegally in the United States unless they have timely filed an application for extension of stay or change of status.
Individuals intending to arrive in the United States for a study purposes must apply for an education or study visa. Education visas are specifically tailored to meet the requirements and necessities of the individual and vary based on the duration of your stay and program requirements. Some of the common United States education visas are:
F-1 Visa: This allows a foreign student to study in the United States full-time at an academic institution such as a college, university, private school or language school. An F-1 visa holder is admitted into the United States for the duration of their course of study. Upon completion of the course of study or training, you have a 60-day grace period to depart the United States or change their status to another visa.
Employment is allowed off campus under a program called Optional Practical Training (OPT) which only becomes available after completion of the course requirements and must be related to your major or course of study.
OPT is granted for one year after submitting and getting approved an Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS.
M Visa: The M Visa enables an individual to attend an approved course of study leading to a specific educational or vocational objective and enroll in a full course of study. An M visa holder who has completed their studies or training have a 30-day grace period to depart the United States or change their status.
They are also eligible for work authorization for practical training purposes, but they will only be granted one month of employment authorization for each four months of full-time study not to exceed six months.
An Individual may be granted a legal permanent resident by receiving an employment-based visa. These are usually given to individuals with special abilities that would directly benefit the United States, academically or financially. Permanent resident status based on employment can be obtained through one of the following five categories:
Non-immigrants can request a change in their non-immigrant status while in the United States. A non-immigrant may seek a status change for various reasons, including shifting from a student to a worker, a traveler to a work, etc. A change of status will only be allowed if the individual originally entered the United States lawfully and has not committed a crime that would affect their ability to remain in the country.
A non-immigrant may apply for a visa extension if the original visa expiration date is approaching. Once a visa has expired, it is no longer eligible for an extension. You might seek a visa extension for many reasons, such as a job extension or for further educational opportunities.
The K-1 Visa is a hybrid visa since it is a nonimmigrant visa with immigrant intent and allows fiancé(e) of U.S. citizens to enter the United States for the purposes of marrying and processing their legal permanent residency within the United States.
The couple is required to marry within 90 days of admission into the United States. After marriage, an Adjustment of Status will be submitted to complete the process.
The K-3 Visa allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen with a pending immigrant petition to enter the United States and complete their residency process without having to wait abroad for the adjudication of the immigrant petition and the subsequent consular processing.