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Know your Non-Immigrant Visas







A 1, 2, 3

Diplomatic Visa

Members of foreign governments, ministers, ambassadors, consuls, diplomats, and their immediate family.


Children of diplomats born in U.S. are LPR's unless they return to home country with parents.


Business Visa

Used for short-term trips to attend conferences, seminars, professional meetings, client negotiations. In certain cases, domestics of temporary workers or Permanent Residents who have resided outside the U.S.

Short-term stay (maximum 6 months). Unlawful to receive salary or to work locally while in the U.S.

Possible to change status or to extend temporary stay while in the U.S. USC & Foreign Nationals may use to bring domestic servants to U.S.


Tourist Visa

Tourist, short term visit - 6 months maximum.

Unlawful to receive remuneration or to work while in U.S.

Possible to change status or to extend temporary stay while in U.S.

VWPP- Visa Waiver Program

Special program for Nationals of various countries

Stay limited to 90 days. No requirement for formal visa application at U.S. Embassy overseas prior to beginning trip.

Unlawful to receive remuneration or to work while in the U.S.

No possibility of changing status or extending stay except for medical emergency.


Transit Visa

For persons transiting U.S. soil only.

Need pre-authorization from the airline company

No Adjustment, Employment or Extensions of Stay allowed.


Crewman Visa

Used for crewman (air, sea) to enter the U.S. in order to meet up with employer

Stay limited to time required to meet with employer, but not more than 29 days.

No Adjustment of Status allowed.


Treaty Trader

Used by individuals to conduct substantial international trade (+50%) with country of origin.

Applicant’s country must have treaty with U.S.- Requires substantial trade. Usually valid for 5 years, renewable.

Employer specific - Spouse and children given derivative visas to remain in U.S. and study. Spouses MAY work in U.S.


Treaty Investor

Used by persons coming to U.S. to direct and develop a substantial and non-marginal investment., or by an Executive, manager or a worker with Essential Skills.

Same general conditions as E-1 visa. Requires Substantial, Active investment.

Employer Specific - Spouse and children are given derivative visa to remain in U.S. Spouses MAY work in U.S.


Student Visa

For students coming to study in U.S. schools both elementary and/or university level.

For elementary level, may not study in U.S. public schools unless- limited to 12 months total time, and must reimburse government for cost of education.

Spouse (or parents) may obtain F-2 or B2 visas and may obtain work authorization upon application w/ proof of economic need. Applicants may get Work Auth for 1 year upon graduation from University


International Organization Visa

For representatives of International Organizations.

Spouse may obtain G-4 derivative. May apply for work authorization upon application w/ economic need.


Specialized Occupation Visa

For persons in specialized occupations, models of international renown- Bachelor’s degree or higher usually needed.

Valid for up to 6 years. 3 years initially with extension. Employment must be related to education.

Employer Specific, but may change employers by filing new application.


Project Visa

Temporary worker needed to finalize a definite goal which has beginning and end.

Valid up to 3 years- Must be for temporary, seasonal, or 1 time need.

Employer specific- Must obtain Labor Certification from Dept of Labor first.


Internship Visa

Intern or Trainee – for up to 2 years.

Internship must be clearly defined by employer. Internship must be in relation w/ worker’s education.

Employer specific


Media Visa

For journalists, radio, television and other media professionals and their immediate family.

Valid for multiple entries and as long as project continues.

Employer Specific - Spouse may not work.


Exchange Visitor’s Visa, or those coming for graduate medical training.

Interns sponsored by companies which adhere to specific exchange program - Governed by USIA - Medical Graduates may remain during course of study.

More flexible than H3 visa. Governed by company and visa period is no more than 18 months (except medical graduates)

For medical graduates, law requires they return to country of origin for at least 2 years after study before getting green card or H visa.


Fiance/Fiancee of USC Visa

Fiance/Fiancee of U.S. Citizen

Marriage must take place, and adjustment of status application filed, within 90 days of arrival.

May file for work authorization upon arrival and prior to adjustment application.


Children of Fiance/fiancee of USC

For the children of Fiance/Fiancee’s of USC.

Fiance applications must have been previously filed with INS by USC

Allows children to arrive immediately in U.S. to await visas.


Spouse of U.S.C.

For spouses of USC married outside the U.S.

I-129 F & Immigrant Visa application must have been filed previously with INS by USC

Allows spouses to arrive immediately in US to await visas, rather than remain outside U.S. Work Auth. provided application filed.


Children of Spouse of USC

For Children of Spouse of USC in K-3 status

Same as for K-3

Same as for K-2


Intra-Company Transferee Visa

Used for Executives or Managers to come in an executive or managerial capacity from foreign company to U.S. subsidiary.

Applicant must have worked in foreign entity - in managerial or executive capacity at least 1 of last 3 years.

Employer specific. Stay valid for up to 7 years. Possibility of obtaining green card via preferential category. Spouses MAY work in U.S.


Intra-Company - Specialized Knowledge Visa

For persons w/ specialized knowledge to come from foreign employer to U.S. entity. Not for managerial or executive level people.

Must have worked in foreign entity 1of last 3 years. Companies must be related.

Valid for up to 5 years. No possibility of obtaining green card visa via preference category. Requires Labor Certificate. Spouses MAY work in U.S.


Vocational School Visa

For students of technical or vocational schools.

Same requirements as for F-1 visa.

Post graduate work authority limited to 6 months.


Extraordinary Ability Aliens

For persons deemed as extraordinary in arts, sciences, business, etc.

Valid for 3 years initially. Requires an advisory opinion regarding extraordinary ability.

May be extended for 1 year periods or until project is finished. Spouses given 0-3 visa, but may not work.

P-1, 2, 3

Visa for musical groups, athletes, etc.

Used by athletes & musical groups performing and recognized at international level coming for tour or competition.

If musical group, must have existed for at least 1 year, and 75% of members must have formed part thereof for prior year.

Athletes may be admitted for up to 5 years. Extendable. Others are admitted for time necessary for performance.


Inter-Cultural Exchange Visa

For persons coming to U.S. for temporary period to take part in international cultural affairs program designated by AG

Program must be designed to exhibit or explain customs, traditions of home country.

Entry cannot exceed 15 months. Program must have interaction with U.S. public, i.e. public schools, museum, etc.


Religious Worker Visa

For members of non-profit religious organizations coming to U.S. to exercise an activity related to such organization or denomination

Person must have been part of denomination or congregation for at least 2 years.

Valid initially for up to 3 years.


“Snitch” Visa

For individuals who have information regarding criminal enterprises and whose presence is required for investigation.

Weight of evidence & necessity to investigation determined by AG in sole discretion

200 visas per year. Valid for up to 3 years. No Change of Status or extension. May adjust, but only if AG gives prior approval.


“Snitch” Visa

Same as S-1, but who will be placed in danger by providing such information.

Requires joint approval by Sect. Of State & AG

50 visas per year. No Change of Status or Extension. May adjust, but only if AG gives prior approval.


Trafficking Visa

For persons who are victims of human trafficking.

Requires a showing of extreme hardship & cooperation with law enforcement.

After 3 years, may Adjust. Victims may apply for NIV’s for spouses & children, & minors may apply for visas for their parents.

T/N-1, T/N-2

Trade NAFTA Visa

For Canadians (T/N-1) and Mexicans (T/N-2) to come to U.S. to work for limited periods of time in Professional occupation.

Requires applicant to have University Degree in professions listed in Appendix to NAFTA & job offer. No self -employment.

Visas issued in 1 Year increments. Mexicans require prior application to INS. Canadians may process at U.S./Canada border directly at Class “A” POE


Violence Against Women Act “VAWA” Visa

For persons who are victims of severe physical/mental abuse as victims of a crime, and are helpful to law enforcement in its investigation.




Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents

For spouses and Children of LPR’s whose application have been long pending with INS.

Requires that Immigrant Visa application have been filed and pending at least 3 years as of December 21, 2001 .

Allows families to reunite. Work authorization provided. Valid for 2 years, renewable.