Information About Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas are for citizens of other countries who would like travel to the U.S. temporarily. A non-immigrant visa allows you access to the United States through any U.S. “port-of-entry”, i.e. an airport. Although a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S., it is a necessary prerequisite. Recently, international visitors must also request permission from the Department of Homeland Security immigration inspector at the airport before officially entering the country. The exact type of non-immigration visa needed for a specific visit is defined by U.S. immigration law and is given based on the reason for visiting the U.S. Some of the most common types of visa include work visas, student visas, and marriage visas.

Who Can Get a Non-Immigrant Visa

To determine if you are eligible to receive a visa, see "Grounds for Ineligibility" on the "Information about Green Cards" page. If you find that none of these specifications apply, and would like to apply for a visa, below is a list of possible means of eligibility.

Some persons who would obtain a non-immigrant visa (immediate family is generally included):

Academic students
Foreign government officials and attendants
Visitors
Aliens in Transit
Crewmen
Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors
Foreign government officials to international organizations (i.e. NATO) and their attendants
Temporary workers
Foreign media representatives
Exchange visitors
Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens
Spouses of U.S. citizens
Intracompany transferees
Vocational Language Students
Workers with extraordinary abilities
Athletes and Entertainers
International Cultural Exchange visitors
Religious workers
Witnesses and informants
Victims of a severe form of human trafficking
Workers with a trade visa from NAFTA
Victims of certain crimes
Certain second preference beneficiaries

Other types of persons in need of visas include those with: Humanitarian Parole, Temporary Protected Status, or Transit without Visa.

How to Get a Visa

Similarly to green cards, you need to make an appointment at your country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Ask about fees over the telephone, and bring the appropriate documentation (passport, application, proof of payment of fees, and documents to support the application detailing employment, reason for travel and financial status) to the appointment. After the appointment, the visa should be issued in a few weeks, though there is no guarantee of being granted a visa.

What Type of Non-Immigrant Visa to Apply For

Click here to view the different non-immigration classifications and visas where you can find the most appropriate visa for your situation.