Nonimmigrant Visas

Nonimmigrant Visas

There are many different types of nonimmigrant visas, which are issued for a temporary period. Below is an explanation of many of the nonimmigrant visas available. For a consultation on whether any of these visas is appropriate for you, please contact the Law Office of Jacob L. Ratzan, P.A.


B-1 (Visitor for Business)

Permits temporary admission of an individual to engage in commercial transactions not involving gainful employment. Therefore, B-1 status does not provide work authorization. However, it does permit admission for contract negotiation, litigation, business meetings and conventions, missionaries, domestic helpers of other individuals holding nonimmigrant status, professional athletes participating in tournaments, and supervisors or trainers of construction work and installation, service and repair of machinery.

B-2 (Visitor for Pleasure)

This visa is for individuals who wish to travel temporarily to the United States before returning to their home country. To obtain a visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, an applicant must demonstrate ties (e.g., school enrollment, property, bank account records, family, etc.) to his/her home country, proving he or she intends to return to his/her home country. Typically, individuals with B-2 status are initially admitted for 6 months and can extend their stay in B-2 status for an additional 6 months.

E-1 (Treaty Trader) / E-2 (Treaty Investor)

The E-1 and E-2 visa category is available to individuals who are citizens of countries with which the United States maintains a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce or Navigation. The E-1 visa is available to individuals (and some of their employees) who conduct “substantial trade” between the treaty country and the U.S. The E-2 visa is available to individuals (and some of their employees) who make a “substantial investment” in the United States. The E visa may be extended indefinitely.

F-1 (Student Visa)

The F-1 visa is issued to individuals coming to the United States to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs. While in F-1 status, a student may be eligible for work authorization either during school and/or at the completion of his or her studies. An individual admitted as an F-1 is admitted for “D/S” or “duration of status,” which essentially means while the individual is actively pursuing a course of study. If the individual stops taking classes, he or she may be considered “out of status.” However, an individual admitted in “D/S” does not accrue “unlawful presence” and may therefore be eligible to leave the country and be readmitted with a new visa.

H-1B (Specialty Occupation Workers)

An H-1B visa is made available to individuals who possess a Bachelor Degree or its equivalent, and who are coming to fill a position that, at a minimum, requires a Bachelor Degree. An H-1B petition may be filed as early as April 1st of a given year, but the beneficiary cannot begin work until October 1st of that same year. Currently, there is a cap of 65,000 new H-1B visas each year. H-1B petitions for extension of status and those filed by certain organizations (e.g., institutions of higher education and related or affiliated nonprofit entities) are not subject to the cap. A foreign worker may work in H-1B status for a maximum of 6 years. However, in some instances, where a foreign worker is also pursuing a green card, he or she may continue in H-1B status beyond the 6 year maximum. Congress has set aside 6,800 visas combined for nationals of Chile and Singapore for the H-1B1 category. While this category is similar to the H-1B, there are important differences. For example, an H-1B1 visa holder is only admitted to the U.S. for one year at a time and there is no statutory limit on the total number of years an individual can maintain H-1B1 status. However, it may be more difficult to travel and maintain H-1B1 status (as opposed to H-1B) while pursuing a green card.

K Visas

The K-1 Visa permits the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the country solely to conclude a valid marriage with the U.S. citizen petitioner. The marriage must take place within 90 days after the K-1 Visa holder’s entry. Minor children of the K-1 fiancé may enter on K-2 visas.

The K-3 visa is available to the spouse of a U.S. citizen where the U.S. citizen has filed an I-130 petition on behalf of the visa applicant. The K-3 visa permits the foreign national spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States and await adjudication of the I-130 petition. Children of K-3 visa holder may enter the country as dependents under the K-4 classification and the U.S. citizen need not file a separate petition on behalf of the child.

L-1 (Executive or Manager)

The L-1 visa is for intra-company transferees, that is, the foreign company transfers a manager, executive, or employee with specialized knowledge to work for a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. The beneficiary must have worked in a managerial, executive, or specialized skill position for at least 1 out of the 3 years immediately before coming to the United States, and he or she must continue to work in a managerial or executive position in the United States. Specialized knowledge means special knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

O-1 (Extraordinary Ability)

An individual with “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics may apply for O-1 visa classification. The individual must demonstrate his or her extraordinary ability has been demonstrated by “sustained national or international acclaim.” This standard can be established by showing receipt of a major internationally recognized award or by satisfying 3 of several criteria, including, among others, receipt of national or internationally recognized awards, published materials about the applicant, authorship of scholarly work by the applicant, playing a lead or critical role in an organization or production with a distinguished reputation, and commanding a high salary relative to others in the field. The O-1 visa requires a sponsor and an expert advisory opinion.

P-1 (Athlete or Entertainer)

The P-1 visa is available to athletes (and their support personnel) who are internationally recognized or who perform as part of a team that is internationally recognized as outstanding. The P-1 visa is also available to entertainers who perform an integral or essential part of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as outstanding for a sustained and substantial period of time. The P-1 entertainment group must have been established for a minimum of 1 year and 75% of its members must have been performing entertainment services for the group for a minimum of 1 year. A group or team consists of two or more persons who function as a unit.

R-1 (Religious Worker)

An R-1 Religious Worker is an individual coming to the United States to perform religious work as a minister, in a professional capacity, or in a religious vocation or occupation. The sponsoring organization must be exempt from federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the religious worker must have been a member of the religious denomination for 2 years immediately before filing the application for R-1 status .