If you wish to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, a non-immigrant visa permits you to travel to a U.S. port of entry and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security to visit for a specific purpose. That purpose might be work, schooling, a conference, etc., or to visit the country, friends or family.
A non-immigrant visa differs from an immigrant visa in that the non-immigrant visa only allows a person to enter temporarily, whereas an immigrant visa holder can enter and stay permanently.
The length of time someone can stay in the U.S. depends on the visa status under which they are admitted. And a person admitted in one status can often change their status in order to stay longer--or to perform different activities.
The process can sometimes be confusing and complicated. Our firm can make it much easier, determining the visa category that is right for you and assisting you with changing status from your current category to the new category. In appropriate cases, we can also obtain legal status and work authorization for your dependent family members.
The following is a brief list of the most commonly used temporary working visa categories:
H1-B Specialty Occupation
This non-immigrant visa classification applies to an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation (one which minimally requires a Bachelor’s degree). Under current law, there is an annual limit of 65,000 aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status. As many as 20,000 additional H-1B slots are available to graduates of U.S. Master’s degree (or higher) programs.
L-1 Intra-company Transfers
The L-1 visa permits multinational companies to transfer high-level and essential employees from their international offices to the United States. The non-immigrant would work at the affiliate or subsidiary of that same employer in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
E-1 Treaty Traders
The E-1 visa allows an individual to enter the United States on a non-immigrant basis for the sole purpose of carrying on substantial trade between his or her country and the United States. The home country of the non-immigrant must have a treaty with the United States.
E-2 Treaty Investor
If you come the U.S. to run an enterprise in which you are invested, you may obtain the non-immigrant visa status of E-2 treaty investor. If you are an employee of a treaty trader investor you may also be qualified as an E visa holder if your duties require special qualifications essential to the business. The non-immigrant must have the same nationality as the alien employer and the home country of the non-immigrant must have a treaty with the United States.
O-1 Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
Highly talented or acclaimed individuals may be eligible for an O visa for entry into the U.S. People who may qualify for this visa are physicians, scientists and accomplished businesspeople as well as athletes considered at the top of their field.
These visas are limited to nationals of Canada and Mexico. If you are employed in one of the sixty-three listed professions in NAFTA, you can apply for non-immigrant TN status. Most of the listed professions require either a bachelor's degree or a licensures degree.
R-1 Religious Workers
The R-1 visa permits religious workers to come to the U.S. to take on a religious occupation and perform services for their religious organization. The religious organization must already be established in the United States.