Non-immigrant visas are temporary permits for foreign nationals to visit, work, study, or engage in specific activities in a country without intending permanent immigration.

Visitor B-1/B-2

Visitor Visas B-1 (business) and B-2 (tourist)

B-1 visas are for people who are entering the U.S. to engage in short-term business activities, and not to seek permanent employment. B-1 visas can be issued to foreign corporate personnel coming to the United States to set up a subsidiary, as well as to persons who are thinking about making an E-2 investment. Religious workers, professional athletes and domestic servants can also qualify for B-1 visas. A B-1 visa holder can negotiate contacts, participate in conferences or seminars, and consult with business associates.

NAFTA Treaty (TN)

The Trade NAFTA (TN) Visa

Certain professionals are admissible to the U.S. under the NAFTA treaty in the TN nonimmigrant category. Professionals entering in the TN category can work for the U.S. employer in two different situations:

Professional Workers (H-1B)

The H-1B visa is among several categories of visas available to U.S. employers who wish to temporarily employ foreign nationals in the U.S. H-1B professionals are classified as such by USCIS if they meet the statutory definition of a “specialty occupation”. At the minimum, the H-1B beneficiary should have a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent*) and a valid job offer in the U.S. within the specialty field. The key issues for H-1B eligibility are: (a) whether the position is a specialty occupation, and (b) whether the beneficiary meets the requirements for the specialty occupation.

Intra-company Transferees (L-1)

Employees being transferred from a foreign company to a U.S. company require an L-1 visa. The employee must be an executive, manager or a person with specialized knowledge with at least one year of previous work experience with a foreign company. The employee may be eligible to either work at a pre-existing subsidiary/branch office or to start up a new subsidiary/branch office for the parent company abroad.

Treaty Traders / Investors (E-1/E-2)

E-1 Treaty Traders

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification. (For dependent family members, see “Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees” below.)

Students (F-1)

Unlike most other nonimmigrants, who are given a defined period of stay in the U.S., foreign students are permitted to remain in the U.S. for the “duration of status.”, meaning that a student remains in valid status during his/her enrollment in any number of academic programs, plus any periods of authorized practical training and a 60-day grace period to depart the U.S. This eliminates the need for extension-of-stay applications for foreign students.

Athletes/Entertainers/Artists (O-1)

This visa option is available for persons of “extraordinary ability in the fields of science, art, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” “Extraordinary ability” refers to a level of expertise showing a person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of their field. “Sustained national or international acclaim” must be shown by “extensive documentation” of recognition for achievements in the field of expertise”. The person holding the visa must be coming to the United States to continue working in the area of extraordinary ability.

Essential Workers (H-2B)

Temporary Alien Labor to Meet Temporary Needs (H-2B)

U.S. employers may petition for skilled or unskilled alien workers to meet temporary or seasonal needs in positions for which qualified U.S. workers are not available. It is important to note that both the services for which the employer requests H-2 labor approval and the employer’s need for such services must be temporary. There is currently an annual cap of 66,000 visas for H-2B workers. There is no annual cap on visas for H-2A workers.

Religious Workers (R-1)

Ministers and individuals working for religious organizations in religious vocations or occupations may qualify for the R-1 visa.

To qualify for the issuance of an R-1 visa, the religious institution must be a nonprofit organization; have a branch, office or other presence in the U.S.; and consist of a bona fide and currently operating religious domination. Also, the sponsoring organization should be tax-exempt under U.S. tax laws in accordance with IRC Sec.501(c)(3).

Victims of Crime (U)

What is a U visa?

The U visa (also called “U nonimmigrant status”) is intended for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse, and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution such crimes.

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