Sample Non-Immigrant Visa
Non-Immigrant Visa

This page illustrates a non-immigrant visa that consulates affix into foreign passports. A visa is an authorization to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to grant non-immigrant status a port of entry to the U.S. on the basis of the non-immigrant visa.

There are many different non-immigrant visa categories. Examples include:

  • Visitor for business (B1)
  • Visitor For pleasure (B2)
  • Temporary worker (H-1B)
  • Intra-company transferee (L-1)
  • Canadian or Mexican Treaty National (TN)
  • Exchange Visitor (J-1)
  • Student (F-1)

For an extended list click here.

One characteristic of a non-immigrant visa is that the the user must intend the stay to be temporary at the time of entry and the user promises to leave the U.S. at the end of the authorized status, except that dual intent visas such as H-1B and L-1 permit the user either to leave at the end of the stay or seek immigrant status (permanent residency).

Investors in the E-2 category can apply directly at the consulate for a non-immigrant investment visa. Canadians seeking an inter-company transfer can also apply directly at the border or DHS preclearance facility in Canada for L-1 status without a visa.

Visitors also can apply directly for a visa at the consulate, and must do so, unless the country of origin participates in the Visa Waiver Program, in which case a visa from the consulate is unnecessary and an online form is available through U.S. Customs and Border Protection which allows a visitor entry for up to 90 days and requires in exchange that the visitor waive rights to contest removal before an immigration judge.

There is no direct path to citizenship from a non-immigrant visa.

Only a work visa provides work authorization. For some other types of non-immigrant visas, but not all, separate employment authorization may be available after entry.

Many types of non-immigrant stays may be extended or changed after entry by application to USCIS from within the US.

Each application for a non-immigrant visa requires a legal basis. In many instances, a pre-approval from USCIS in the U.S. must also be obtained before a visa can be requested at the consulate.

H-1B work visas.

Other non-immigrant work and business visas.

Tips about visitor visas .

A visa is an authorization for an alien to enter and stay in the United States which is affixed to the foreign passport of the alien. It is issued under the authority of the Department of State, usually at a consulate or embassy located in a foreign country, which is typically the country of residency or citizenship of the alien. If the purpose of the entry is to establish permanent residency, then the visa is an immigrant visa. If the purpose is a temporary stay in the United States, then the visa is a non-immigrant visa. In the latter case, the visa must be valid at the time of entry but can expire during the stay without affecting the immigration status of the visa holder, so long as an accompanying document, the I-94 is still valid and unexpired.

The images on this page represent several types of non-immigrant visas that may be encountered. In checking for employment authorization, it is always important to check the I-94, which is an equally critical document. The non-immigrant visa is directed more to border and customs officials at a port of entry, who issue the I-94 and staple it into the visitor's foreign passport. The employer should check both the non-immigrant visa and the I-94 documents, but if the non-immigrant visa was valid at the time of entry, has expired in the meantime, and the I-94 is still valid, then the stay in the U.S. is nonetheless authorized.

Whether employment is also authorized for the combination of the non-immigrant visa and the I-94 which is presented by the new hire is a more complex question. A number of non-immigrant visa categories exist, only a handful of which qualify for employment authorization. If there is doubt, legal counsel should be consulted within the three days alloted for employment eligibility checks after the date of hire. Requiring other proof of employment authorization could violate anti-discrimination laws, and careless acceptance of an invalid or non-qualifying non-immigrant visa can lead to employer sanctions. For more information, Click here.

Earlier version of Non-Immigrant Visa

This is a much earlier non-computerized type of visa that could theoretically be encountered in practice appears as a stamp in the passport.

At Messing Law Offices, we provide high quality legal services and expertise to families, working men and women, and businesses. If you have a concern in the areas of family based immigration, business based immigration, employment based immigration, or naturalization and you are seeking the help of an experienced immigration lawyer, call Messing Law Offices at (520) 512-5432 for professional Arizona immigration attorney assistance.