Who Qualifies for a Nonimmigrant (Temporary) Visa?

At the Immigration Law Offices of Noelle Sharp, we work with students, exchange visitors, their families, institutions and employers for compliance with complex government rules, to obtain work authorization and other benefits that may be available, and to work through complex individual problems that inevitably arise.  Our immigration lawyer helps individuals document and clarify their nonimmigrant intent, financial support, and planned activities in making visa applications, seeking entry, and applying for change of status.

 Our immigration lawyer works students and exchange visitors and their family members to obtain work authorization where available.  We also evaluate and assist our clients pursue changes to other visa classifications and to permanent residence for those who wish to expand their range of activities and duration of stay.

Nonimmigrant visas, such as tourist and student visas, permit you to enter the U.S. for a short time.

If you're planning a short trip to the United States, you must, with certain exceptions, obtain a "nonimmigrant" (temporary) visa. Below we summarize who qualifies for the various types of visas. For details, including how to apply for a visa, see U.S. Immigration Made Easy, by Ilona Bray (Nolo).

Types of Nonimmigrant Visas

You must choose the specific purpose of your trip (such as tourism or going to school) and apply for a specialized visa that authorizes that activity and no other. Each type of nonimmigrant visa is identified by a letter-number combination. You may already be familiar with the more popular ones: B-2 (visitor), E-2 (investor), F-1 (student), and H-1B (specialty worker). See the chart below for a complete list of the most commonly used codes and descriptions.

Nonimmigrant Visa Petitions

K-1. Fiances or fiancees  of U.S. citizens coming to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married.

K-2. Minor, unmarried children of K-1 visa holders.

K-3. Spouses of U.S. citizen petitioners awaiting USCIS approval of their immigrant visa petition and the availability of an immigrant visa.

K-4. Unmarried children of K-3 visa holders.

L-1. Intracompany transferees who work as managers, executives, or persons with specialized knowledge.

L-2. Spouses and children of L-1 visa holders.

M-1. Vocational or other nonacademic students, other than language students.

M-2. Spouses and children of M-1 non immigrant visa holders.

M-3. Citizens or residents of Mexico or Canada commuting to the U.S. to attend vocational school.

N-8. Parents of certain special immigrants.

N-9. Children of certain special immigrants or N-9 non immigrant visa holders.

NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, and NATO-5. Representatives, officials, and experts coming to the U.S. under applicable provisions of the NATO Treaty, and their immediate family members.

NATO-6. Civilians accompanying military forces on missions authorized under the NATO Treaty, and their immediate family members.

NATO-7. Attendants, servants, or personal employees of NATO-1 through NATO-6 visas holders, and their immediate family members.

O-1. Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

O-2. Essential support staff of O-1 visa holders.

O-3. Spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.

P-1. Internationally recognized athletes and entertainers, and their essential support staff.

P-2. Entertainers coming to perform in the U.S. through a government-recognized exchange program.

P-3. Artists and entertainers coming to the U.S. in a group to present culturally unique performances.

P-4. Spouses and children of P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa holders.

Q-1. Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. to participate in international cultural exchange programs.

Q-2. Participants in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program (Walsh visas)

Q-3. Spouses and children of Q-1 visa holders.

R-1. Ministers and other workers of recognized religions.

R-2. Spouses and children of R-1 visa holders.

S-5. People coming to the U.S. to supply information to about a criminal organization.

S-6. People coming to the U.S. to provide information about a terrorist organization.

T-1.  Victims of trafficking in persons.

T-2, T-3.  Spouses and children of victims of trafficking.

TN. Trade visas for Canadians and Mexicans.

U-1. People who have suffered "substantial physical or mental abuse" as a result of certain U.S. criminal violations including domestic violence and who are assisting law enforcement authorities.

U-2, U-3. Spouses and children of U-1 visa holders.

V. Spouses and children of U.S. lawful permanent resident petitioners who have already waited three years for the approval of their visa petition or for an immigrant visa to become available, so long as their visa petition was submitted on or before December 21, 2000.