Overview of Nonimmigrant Visas:

Nonimmigrant Visas provide temporary admission to the United States. Nonimmigrants, except H and L categories, have to prove their intention to leave the United States after a short period of authorized stay.

Foreign Nationals who come legally to the United States must have nonimmigrant visas or travel permits to seek admission at a designated port of entry.

To obtain a visa, a nonimmigrant must first be interviewed by a U.S. consul overseas. Once the Consular Officer has determined that the foreign national is qualified for a visa, the consul will issue an entry visa to the United States which will be stamped on the person’s passport. This visa may be limited to a single entry or multiple entries and for a limited period.

Next, at a designated port of entry, once again, the nonimmigrant is inspected by an Immigration Officer. Based on the inspection, the officer will determine the person’s length of stay and issue a Form I-94 (white card) stating how long the foreign national can legally remain in the United States.

If a person remains in the United States after the I-94 expires, that person will begin to accrue unlawful presence in the United States unless he or she has applied for an extension to the nonimmigrant visa. A person who overstays in the United States for more than 6 months will have a 3-year bar to re-entry, and if he or she stays longer than 6 months, he or she will be barred from re-entry into the United States for 10 years. 

Visa Waiver Program

Foreign Nationals in certain countries are allowed to enter the United States without an entry visa; however, they generally cannot extend the visa beyond 90 days or change their status to another nonimmigrant category, work, or attend schools in the United States. If the immigration officer at port of entry denies the application, visitors under this program have no right to appeal.

Countries included in Visa Waiver Program as of 2009

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom.

Types of nonimmigrant visas

Although 25 types of nonimmigrant visas are available, we have listed only the most common types on this website. For a complete list, visit the USCIS website.

B1/B2, - Visitor/ Business visa, F1- Student Visa, H1-B and H1-B1- Specialty Occupations, I-Foreign Media Representatives, J1- Exchange Visitors, K1- Fiancé Visa, K3-Spouses of USC, L1 – Intracompany Transferee, O – Workers with Extra Ordinary Abilities, P- Athletes and Entertainers, R- Religious Workers, TN- Trade Visas for Canadian and Mexicans, U- Victims of Crimes