When you intend to travel to the United States and don’t plan on staying permanently, you must apply for a nonimmigrant visa. However, you will be expected to provide proof for your travel reasons.
There are different categories of visas for various travel purposes, but each has its restrictions and requirements. The process of applying for a non-immigration visa can be quite complicated. Therefore, it is vital to engage an immigration attorney to help you. At Orange County Immigration Attorney, we can help you navigate through the strict visa application process.
What is a Nonimmigrant Visa?
A nonimmigrant visa is a visa issued to foreigners seeking to enter the United States temporarily. The visit could either be on business, tourism, education, or even medical treatment. The category of visa required is defined by immigration laws depending on the purpose of your visit to the US. However, there are restrictions on the amount of time your non-immigration visa is valid. You also need to show proof that you intend to go back to your home country after the visit.
Categories of Non-Immigration Visa
There are different categories of non-provide-immigrant visas you can apply. Each category of visa has its specification and criteria for qualification. The purpose of your intended visit, among other factors, will be a significant determinant on the type of nonimmigrant visa you qualify to get.
As an applicant, you need to prove that you meet all the requirements to receive the category of visa you are applying. However, getting a visa does not guarantee your entry to the United States. It only indicates that a consular officer has reviewed your application and declared your eligibility to enter the country. The categories of the nonimmigrant visa include:
- Visitor Visa (b-1 and b-2)
A visitor visa is issued to foreigners who want to enter the United States for business or tourism temporarily. You can either get the b-1 for business, the b-2 for tourism, or both. The activities you are permitted to take part in while on the b-1 visa include:
- Consultations with business associates
- Settle estates
- Negotiate a contract
- Attend an educational, scientific, professional, or business conferences, and carry out any other legal business activity for your home enterprise.
If you are applying for a visitor’s visa, you will need an invitation letter from a United States resident. This letter aims to declare that the US citizen has room for you during your stay.
If you enter the United States on a B-1 or B-2 visa, you are not permitted to accept any employment. Before receiving the visa, you should avoid making final travel plans. This is because you are not guaranteed to get the visa. However, once you receive the visa, it is valid until the expiration date, even when your passport expires.
- Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1)
Exchange visitor visas are the non-immigration visas for individuals traveling to participate in an exchange program. You must be accepted at the exchange program through an organization in the United States to apply for this kind of visa. After agreeing to participate in the exchange program, you will get registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You must also pay the SEVIS fee.
Upon agreeing to participate in an exchange program in the United States, you will be subject to the home presence for two years. This means you are required to return home for two years, according to Immigration law Section 212 (e). However, you are required to follow the two-year home country physical presence if:
- The government has funded your exchange program, either partially or fully supported by the government of your home or the government of the United States.
- You entered the United States to receive graduate medical training or education as part of the visitor exchange program.
- You are a national or a permanent resident of the country that has organized the program for your exchange visit. If you are subject to the two years home country physical presence, you cannot change the status of your nonimmigrant visa before you complete your two years of staying back home.
- Student Visa (F and M)
A foreigner must have a student’s visa to study in the United States. The course you intend to study and the school you intend to attend will determine if you get an F or an M visa. You will not be allowed to participate in school if you are on a visitor visa unless you are taking a recreational course as part of the tourism. The first step will be applying to a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved school and getting accepted. The SEVP approved school issues an I-20 and must prevent this form during the visa interview.
Specific documents required for an M or F visa are:
- Your academic papers such as transcripts, degree, or certificates from previously attended schools
- Show how you intend to pay for your education as well as the living costs
- Your intention to return home as soon as you are done studying
If you have an F student visa, you are expected to leave within 60 days after completion of your course. The program end date will be listed on the I-20 form. Failure to depart will take away your status and deem you to be residing in the United States illegally.
You may request to change the status of your student visa to prolong your stay. While residing in the United States, you will not need to apply for another visa to get your status changed.
For new students, the visa can be issued up to 120 days before the course starts to date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States 30 days before your course starts. For continuing students, the visas could be issued any time as long as the student is enrolled in an SEVP school.
- Medical Treatment Visa
Visa applicants seeking to get medical treatment in the United States are required to produce documents to establish their eligibility for the visa. You must verify that the treatment you are seeking is not available in your home country, and there are facilities with the hope of treatment in the United States.
A diagnosis letter from your physician at your home country is required to show your condition and the kind of treatment you need. You should provide evidence that you have been accepted to a licensed treatment facility, and you have an appointment. A statement from the US doctor who will be handling your case will also be needed. This will show the estimated cost and time your treatment will require.
There should be documents on how the medical costs will be met, such as bank statements showing all deposits and fund transfers in the last year. If the medical expose funds will be covered by a relative from the United States, you must provide a form I-34 Affidavit of Support. This form will indicate the income and assets of the person who will cover your expenses.
- Temporary Worker Visas
Temporary worker visas will be issued to individuals who want to travel and work in the United States for a fixed period. The visas will require you to file for a petition with US citizenship. There are different categories of temporary worker visa, including:
- H-1B: It is issued to persons traveling to work in a specialty occupation. You require a higher education degree to qualify for this visa.
- H-1B1: It is issued for individuals to work in a specialty occupation and requires a post-secondary degree with at least four years of study in the field of specialization.
- H-2A: It is issued for temporary agricultural work. It is limited to nationals of designated countries for the interest of the United States.
- L: It is issued to work at a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary employer in an executive or managerial capacity. The same company must have employed the individual for one consecutive year during the past three years.
- H-3: Issued to individuals who want to receive training (other than graduate medical training), which is not available in their home country.
- O: Issued to persons who possess extraordinary ability in science, education, or arts to work in their field of expertise.
- P-1: For individuals traveling to perform at a specific athletic competition or as a team member of an entertainment group.
Some of these temporary worker visa categories will require your employer to obtain approval from the Department of Labor before filing the petition for the visa. However, there is a limitation on the number of petition you can be granted to travel with a temporary worker visa.
- Crewmember Visa (D)
A crewmember visa is issued to individuals who work on board international airlines or foreign sea vessels to the United States. If your aim of traveling is to join the vessel you work for, you will need a C-1 visa in addition to the crewmember (D) visa. During the interview, you will be required to produce evidence to show you are going to meet a vessel. If you apply for the transit (C-1) visa at the same time as your crewmember visa, you will get a combination of both C-1 and D visas.
You may apply for a crewmember visa before employment. However, the D visa can only be used to enter the US using the vessel or aircraft where you work. If you go to the US with a crewmember visa, you are expected to leave within 29 days.
- Visas for Members of the Media or Press
Media (I) visas are issued to foreign members of the media traveling to work on professional media activities. The activities to be carried out while traveling on the (I) visa should be informational and generally associated with the process of news gathering and reporting on the current events.
- Border Crossing Card (BCC)
The border crossing card is a laminated card issued to citizens of Mexico and is valid for travel until the expiration date, which is often ten years. You must meet the criteria for a B-1 or B-2 visa to qualify for the BCC. Also, you must show your ties with Mexico that will compel you to return after your temporary stay.
All applicants applying for the border crossing card must follow the procedure of the B-1/ B-2 visa application. You will also pay the application fee. Children under the age of 15 years will pay a reduced cost for the BCC but must have at least one parent who is a holder of a valid crossing card.
- Visas for Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials (A-1 or A-2)
The A-1 and A-2 Visas are issued to diplomats and government officials visiting the United States to engage in official duties on behalf of their national government. However, the Heads of States are exempted from these categories of visas and will receive an A visa regardless of their purpose of travel. The position you hold in the government of your state will determine whether you qualify for an A-1 or A-2 visa. Personal employers and domestic assistants will receive the A-3 visa if you wish to travel with them.
- Visas for Victims of Human Trafficking (T)
Human trafficking is considered modern day slavery, where the traffickers lure others with false promises of employment and end up enslaving them. Upon rescue, the United States government will issue a T nonimmigrant visa. This will allow the victim to remain in the US and assist with investigations for the trafficking case. However, foreigners who seek the T-1 non-immigration visa must be physically present in the United States.
- Treaty Traders and Investor Visas (E)
Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are issued to citizens who have trade and commerce treaties with the United States. To get this type of visa, you must be coming to the United States to:
- Develop and direct operators of an enterprise where you have a substantial investment
- Engage in trade, including trade services in activities that qualify principally between your country and the US
The Application Process of a Nonimmigrant Visa
You must always apply for a non-immigrant visa in the country you live in. Consulates and U.S embassies in other countries will deny your application unless you provide a valid reason why you did not apply in your home country. For some categories, such as visitor visas, the application will involve filling a few application forms and attending interviews at the US embassy.
You are required to fill a Form DS-160 online and arrive at the embassy with a printout of the confirmation page. To get a student visa, you must find a school to accept you for a valid program and send an I-20 form, which you take to the consulate.
Work visas are somewhat more complicated to file. You need a United States employer who is willing to sponsor you. Your employer will provide the filing paperwork in the Department of Labor with the office of immigration to request permission for you to apply.
For most categories of nonimmigrant visa, you are required to do the following for your application to get accepted:
- Supply proof that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your expenses during your stay in the United States.
- Show evidence that you have strong ties to your home country that will compel you to return after the expiration of the permitted stay.
- Produce a valid passport. The expiration date of this passport should be dated at least six months past the date you are supposed to leave the United States. You need to remember that your passport should have the last page for an affix visa.
- You need to upload two photographs when applying the DS-160 form. If the upload does not go through, you can deliver the photo personally on the day of your appointment.
- Show proof that you paid the visa fee, and the amount to be paid depends on the category you are applying to get. Even if you decide to cancel your appointment or your nonimmigrant visa application is rejected, the visa fee will not get refunded.
Supporting Documents for a Non-Immigration Visa
Other than the primary documents you submit for a general nonimmigrant visa, you are required to show the following additional documents to back up the information you give in your visa application form:
- Previous Visas
If you had a prior visit to the United States, you should take your older passport to the interview at the embassy or consulate. This will be used to prove that you have previously entered the country.
- Sponsorship Documents
If your visit to the United States is getting sponsored by an individual who is a citizen, you will be required to show proof of that. Your sponsor must provide an affidavit letter, which is a letter that proves that your sponsor will financially cater for your stay in the country. The U.S government wants to make sure that you will not depend on welfare during your stay. An affidavit is a contract between you and your sponsor, where they agree to support your financial needs.
A US citizen will only be allowed to be your sponsor if they are over the age of 18 years and have a permanent address in the state you are visiting. The sponsor should also produce an employment letter as well as a bank letter to show when your account was opened and the amount deposited during the past year. Also, the sponsor should meet specific income requirements, and if they are incapable, you can add a sponsor to make joint sponsorship.
- Property Documents
If you own a property in your home country or any other place, you need to show proof of that when applying for a nonimmigrant visa. Having a property in your home country may be sufficient evidence of the ties that will pull you back home after your visit. The proof of ownership will be the original ownership papers, photographs of the property, and personal affidavit of the property.
- Travel Itinerary
The travel itinerary is the document that shows your travel plans as well as what you are going to do during your visit. It will also include your flight reservations, showing the date of entry and exit to the US. Also, you will be required to submit proof of accommodation showing where you will live during your stay.
- Employment Documents
If you are employed, you should bring a letter from your employer indicating the type of employment you have, the period you have had the job and time your employer allows you to be away from work. If you are retired, you need to provide a pension book. Company registration is also expected for self-employed individuals.
- Family Documents
Any document that would indicate a family relationship should be produced during the interview for your non-immigration visa. Birth certificates, marriage certificates as well as adoption papers in the case of adopted children are required. Also, divorce certificate and death certificates of dead spouses are required.
- Letter from a Physician
Before you are granted access to the United States, you should schedule a medical examination with an authorized physician. The embassy should certify the doctor carrying out the examination. The results of the tests are among the documents required during the nonimmigrant visa application.
Processing documents for the non-immigration visa can be a tiring process. It is crucial to get legal guidance from an immigration attorney. They will guide you to ensure you don’t miss out on any valuable document.
Find an Immigration Attorney Near Me
The process of obtaining a visa is comprised of different requirements that call for attention to detail. Understanding the United States government policy that pertains to nonimmigrant visas can be confounding and complex.
If you are hoping to get a nonimmigrant visa, you can benefit from the help of the knowledgeable and experienced Orange County Immigration Attorney law firm. We will ensure that you understand all the crucial requirements for acquiring a non-immigration visas and help you with the application process. Call us at 714-909-0426 to talk to one of our immigration attorneys today.