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Non-immigrant Visas
 

The main difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa is that an immigrant arrives to the U.S. with the intention of staying here permanently, whereupon a non-immigrant has a permanent foreign residence and has no intention of staying in the States.  Following are brief descriptions of the various non-immigrant visas:

 A visa

The A visa is issued to members of the diplomatic community, and representatives of foreign nations such as ambassadors, public ministers, diplomatic or consular officers, or members of their immediate families.  Those holding an A visa are not permitted to work for American employers, even if the holder of an A visa has a Social Security number.  The main requirement is that the holder of the A visa be a member of the diplomatic community or their immediate family.

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B visa

The B visa is divided into two types:  B-1, temporary visitor for business, and B-2, temporary visitor for pleasure.  The main requirement of the B-1 visa is that the applicant be paid from a source outside the United States, and not a U.S. employer.  B-1 visa holder is not entitled to be employed in the United States but rather do something that directly pertains to his job overseas.  The B-1 visa is primarily a visa for business people overseas with legitimate business interests in the United States.  B-2 visa is granted to those who are visiting the U.S. for pleasure and tourist activities.  The period of stay in the U.S. controlled by the Form I-94, Arrival Record issued by a Border Patrol Inspector.  B-1 visa initial stay cannot exceed three months with a right to extend.  B-2 visa initial stay cannot exceed six months with a right to extend up to one year unless an alien has some extraordinary circumstances.  A person having B-2 visa cannot obtain a job with an American employer unless his visa status is changed.

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 C-1 visa

C-1 visa is granted to travelers who need to change their means of transportation so as to reach their respective destinations.  The holders of C-1 visa are not allowed under any circumstances to be employed in the United States or change their status to any other.

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 D visa

D visa is granted to members of crew, captains and stewards of ships, airplanes, helicopters, liners, etc.  The entry for D-1 visa is limited for 29 days and the applicant may not work or change status while in the U.S.

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 E visa

E visa is divided into two parts:  E-1 and E-2.  As a whole, E visa is designed for foreign-owned companies who have trade or investments in the United States.  The requirements for E visa are that the applicant carries on substantial trade between the U.S. and the applicant’s home country (E-1 visa) or develops and directs the operations of a company or enterprise, which has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital (E-2 visa).  Applicants must be citizens of their country, their home country must have treaty obligations with the United States, and there must be substantial trade or investments involved.  E visas are granted for five years with possible five-year extension.

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 F-1 visa

F-1 visa is granted to foreign students studying at accredited academic institutions in the United States.  The requirement is that the applicant must be enrolled in a full course of study, have proof of nonimmigrant intent, possess sufficient funds and be proficient in the English language.  Holders of F-1 visa cannot work while in school; however, they may attend practical training upon obtaining a degree. 

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 G visa

The G visa is issued to aliens that belong to international organizations (e.g., Red Cross, United Nations).  The main requirement is to show that the purpose of entry into the United States has to do with international organizations.  Those with G visas may not work outside their organizations unless they have permission to do so from the U.S. CIS.

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 H-1a visa

The H-1a visa is designed for registered nurses who are coming to work in the United States on a temporary basis.  The requirements for the H-1a category are a full and unrestricted license to practice from the home country; passing of an appropriate nursing examination in the United States, and having an unexpired labor attestation on file with the Department of Labor.

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 H-1b visa

The H-1b visa is granted to applicants who have highly specialized knowledge in a specific field such as mathematics, science, engineering, and others.  A baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is the minimum requirement for qualifying for a specific position.  Also, if the applicant possesses specialized skills, those skills may be counted as the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree.  Generally, three years of experience counts as one year of college.

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 H-2a visa

The H-2a visa is granted to temporary agricultural workers performing work of temporary or seasonal nature.  The H-2a applicant must maintain a permanent foreign residence, and the nature of his work must be determined by the U.S. CIS.

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 H-2b visa

The H-2b visa is designed for skilled or unskilled workers.  The H-2b visa is granted to aliens performing work of a temporary or seasonal nature. The main requirement for the H-2b applicant is to have permanent foreign residence.  The employer must also demonstrate that there can be found no U.S. citizens to fill these temporary positions.

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 H-3 visa

The H-3 visa is designed for trainees who are in the United States for training.  The period of training may not exceed two years, and the main requirement is that the trainee must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a bona fide training program which involves no “productive employment”.  In other words, they cannot work while in training.  The employer must also submit documentation to the effect as to what benefits does he stand to gain, since the alien will have no productive employment.

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 H-4 visa

The H-4 visa is issued to the spouse and minor children of H-1, H-2, and H-3 visa holders.  The holders of H-4 visa cannot hold jobs, but may attend school part-time or full-time while they are in the United States.

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 I visa

The I visa is given to members of the International Information Media, such as journalists and foreign correspondents.  The main requirement is that the applicant be a documented and accredited member of the international media and paid by the media company overseas.

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 J visa

The J visa could be of two types: 1 – work and travel and cultural exchange, or AuPair program , which is issued to the students up to 24 years of age and 2 – to the applicants who wish to participate in training and research sponsored by one of the government agencies.  The main limitation in such program could be a requirement to return to the home country for two years and inability to obtain any other nonimmigrant or immigrant visa within such period of time.  In order to change J-1 to any other visa (in cases where there is no 2-year home residency requirement), the person has to prove that the J-1 program was fully completed.

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 K visa

The K visa is given to fiancées or fiancés, those wishing to marry a United States citizen.  The duration of the visa is three months, and the marriage must take place within 90-day period upon arrival to the U.S.

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 L visa

The L visa is granted to intracompany transferees of managerial or executive position, or specialized knowledge employees, whose company does business both inside and outside the United States.  The initial visa is issued from one to two years with the possibility for further extensions.

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 M visa

The M visa is given to students who are admitted to an authorized school.  The requirement for the M applicant is that he must be admitted to an authorized school of study for a full course.  The visa is granted for the period required to complete program of study, plus an additional sixty (60) days.

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 O visa

The O visa is given to individuals, family members, and aliens accompanying the person with extraordinary ability in the sciences, culture, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been granted international or national recognition.  This visa has no limitation for the amount of extensions as long as the employer proves business necessity of such employee.

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 P visa

The P visa is given to athletes or members of entertainment groups, who perform, individually, or as a team, at an internationally recognized level.  The requirements are possession of an international ranking; honors or awards in sport, and participation in international competition with a national team.  The visa is granted for the duration of the event for which the petitioner applies for the visa.  The limit of issue is five years for individual athletes; this can be extended for another period of five years.

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 Q visa

The Q visa is issued to international exchange visitors.  The requirements are an established international cultural exchange program with a school, museum, or other establishment where cultural exchange takes place on a public level; that this program be actively be doing business with the U.S.A.; and that the wages paid and conditions of work be the same as for United states workers.  The visa is granted for a maximum of fifteen months, with a one-year foreign residence requirement thereafter.

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R visa

The R visa is granted to religious workers, ministers, clergy, persons in religious occupations or vocations, or just to the parishioners who come to the U.S. with the particular goal to work in a religious organization.  There are no experience requirements, and the applicant must satisfy the necessary affiliation requirements.  A baccalaureate degree, a two-year membership in the denomination, and a written statement from an authorized official of the denomination are the requirements that must be met.  The stay in the country cannot exceed a total of five years.