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Foreign nationals may need to stay in or come to the United States temporarily for various reasons. These nationals will need to secure temporary or nonimmigrant visas. These temporary visas fall under multiple categories.

VISITORS’ VISAS (B1 AND B2 VISAS):

These categories of visas are for visitors for pleasure) or Business (B2).
Generally, granted for a brief period of between six months to one year. Holders of these visas are not authorized to work in the United States. Under the Visa Waiver Program, citizens of certain countries (presently there are about 39) can enter the United States without a visa, for business or pleasure, and stay for up to 90 days. United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which went into effect on July 1, 2020, has provisions for Mexican and Canadian Visitors

STUDENTS AND TRAINEES VISAS

F-VISAS: These are visas for foreign nationals to enter the United States as students, ranging from elementary school students to postdoctoral studies. Family members of these students may be granted F-2 visas to come along with them. Many requirements and restrictions are involved in securing and maintaining this visa status.

M-VISAS: Students coming to the United States for vocational and nonacademic programs may be admitted under this category of visas.

J-VISAS. This category of visa is for exchange visitors. These students come to the United States under an exchange program recognized by the U.S. Department of State. This program may be sponsored either by a private institution in the United States, the United States government, or the home government of the exchange student. If the program is sponsored wholly or partially by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange student, the student may be subject to a two-year residency requirement. In that case, the student must return to their home country for two years before being permitted to return permanently or temporarily to work in the United States.

H-3 VISAS: These visas are used by U.S. Companies to bring foreign employees to the United States to participate in an established training program. The goal is to enhance the employee’s worth to the U.S. company’s foreign operations. USCIS is notably quite strict in adjudicating this category of visas.

TEMPORARY VISAS FOR BUSINESS PERSONNEL

H-1 VISAS: These visas are granted to various professionals and their accompanying family members. Specialty occupations obtain H-1B; H-1B1 is given to Fast Track H-1B; Professional Nurses working in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) may qualify for H-1C; H-2A is for Temporary Agricultural Workers. Certain skilled and unskilled workers may be eligible for H-2B. Accompanying family members (spouses and children) would be granted H-4 status.

L-VISAS: Used by international companies to bring employees (intracompany transferees) to work temporarily in the United States. With an initial duration of up to 3 years, many multinational companies have found this visa category valuable knowledge. The employee must work in a managerial, executive (L-1A), or specialized capacity (L-1B). Spouse and unmarried, minor children of L-1 visas employees may be granted L-2 visas to accompany them.

E-VISAS: These visas are available to nationals of certain countries who are part of a “treaty of commerce and navigation” or a “bilateral investment treaty” between the United States and those countries. This visa can be used to conduct trade between the United States and the country of majority ownership of the company (E-1) or oversee investments in the United States (E-2). Many different types of companies can use it, including the companies’ principals or their employees.

I-VISA: Available to foreign press representatives, radio, T.V., cable, print, film, or other information media.

O-VISAS: This category of visas is reserved for foreign nationals of “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
O-1A is for extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, and athletics, while O-1B is for persons of “extraordinary” achievement in the motion picture or T.V. industries. They may be accompanied by their family members and certain persona assisting them. There is no numerical cap, and there is no statutory limitation on the period of stay for O nonimmigrants. O-2 nonimmigrant visas are available to foreign nationals who will accompany and assist in the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 nonimmigrant.

P-VISAS: These are visas for certain athletes and entertainers. Internationally recognized athletes and athletic teams may be granted P-1A visas. P-1B visas are available to entertainers and entertaining groups. P-2 visas are visas that are granted to artists and entertainers, including individuals and groups, who seek to be admitted through a reciprocal exchange program between a foreign-based and U.S.-based organization. Artists and entertainers who are coming to the United States to perform “under a program that is culturally unique” may request and obtain a P-3 visa, this P-3 visa status may be extended to essential support personnel

Q-VISAS: Q-1 visas are generally for foreign nationals coming to participate in an international cultural exchange program as designated by the Attorney General of the United States. Special Q-2 visas are granted to nonimmigrants in Northern Ireland

R-VISAS R-1 visas may be granted to religious workers (Ministers and other religious workers). Their spouses and children may obtain R-2 visas

DIPLOMATIC AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS VISAS

A VISAS: Ambassadors, public ministers, or career diplomats and their immediate relatives are granted A-1 visas. Other accredited employees of foreign governments and their immediate relatives obtain A-2 visas, and attendants, servants, and personal employees of A-1 and A-2 visa holders and members of their families are entitled to A-3 visas

G-VISAS: These are visas issued to foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States to go to the United Nations or other international organizations.

There are five categories:

  • G-1-visas are for members of a permanent mission and their families.
  • G-2 visas are for representatives of a recognized government and their immediate families.
  • G-3 visas are for persons from governments that are not recognized by the United States or of a non-member country of an international organization.
  • G-4 visas are issued to officers and employees (of any rank) of an international organization.
  • G-5 visas are reserved for attendants, servants, and personal employees of holders of G-1 to G4.

TRANSIT, CREW, AND NATO

G-4 Family
C-VISAS Aliens in “immediate and continuous transit through the U.S. such as crewmen joining ship or businessmen traveling through the United States are eligible for C-1 visas. U.N Transits receive C-2 visas, and foreign representatives passing through the U.S. get C-3 visas

D-VISAS are for crew members. Anyone serving in good faith in any required capacity onboard the vessel is a crewman.

N-VISAS are visas for parents and children of G-4s and NATO employees. These persons are accorded special immigrant status.

LAW ENFORCEMENT VISAS

S-VISAS: Persons (witnesses) with critical information regarding a criminal organization or enterprise may be granted. S-5 visa. A foreign national with reliable critical information concerning a terrorist organization or operation can be granted an S-6 visa. These are very limited and granted only for 3 years.

T-VISAS are available to victims of “severe” trafficking (by force, coercion, or fraud) who are physically present in the United States or a port of entry and have complied with any lawful and reasonable request to assist in the investigation.
U-VISAS are available to victims of serious criminal activities in the United States who have information about the illegal activity and have assisted or are assisting in the prosecution of said activity