General Information:

Nonimmigrants are admitted to the United States for specific purposes. Examples of such purposes include study, temporary, work, business, or pleasure. Nonimmigrant visas are ordinarily only for a temporary visit of fixed duration.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) presumes, with some exceptions, that noncitizens who seek admission to the United States are immigrants. Admission requirements for immigrants are generally more demanding than for nonimmigrants. A person must show that he or she qualifies as a nonimmigrant. The categories of nonimmigrants are set forth in section 101(a)(15) of the INA.

In general a nonimmigrant will need to provide evidence that the visit will be temporary, agree to depart at the end of the authorized stay, possess a valid passport, maintain a foreign residence (in most cases), be able to provide proof of financial support, be admissible to the U.S. or have been granted a waiver for any grounds of inadmissibility, and abide by the terms and conditions of admission.


The State Department issues the nonimmigrant visas and the Department of Homeland Security grants admission to those possessing visas and proper documentation. Both agencies refer to nonimmigrant classes with letters and numbers from the subsections of INA 101(a)(15). Classes of nonimmigrant visas include:

  • A Visa = Foreign government officials and families
  • B1 Visa = Temporary visitor for business
  • B2 Visa = Temporary visitor for pleasure
  • C Visa = Transit alien
  • E1 Visa = Treaty traders
  • E2 Visa = Treaty investors
  • F1 Visa = Academic student
  • G Visa = Representatives to international organizations
  • H1B Visa = Workers in specialty occupations
  • H1B1 Visa = Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreement aliens
  • H1C Visa = Registered nurses participating in the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas
  • H2A Visa = Seasonal agricultural workers
  • H2B Visa = Seasonal nonagricultural workers
  • H2R Visa = Returning H2B workers
  • H3 Visa = Trainees
  • I Visa = Representatives of foreign information media
  • J Visa = Exchange visitors
  • K Visa = Fiancees of U.S. citizens or spouses of U.S. citizens
  • L Visa = Intracompany transferees
  • M1 Visa = Vocational student
  • O Visa = Workers with extraordinary ability/achievement
  • P1 Visa = Internationally recognized athletes or entertainers
  • P2 Visa = Artists or entertainers in reciprocal exchange programs
  • P3 Visa = Artists or entertainers in culturally unique programs
  • Q Visa = Workers in international cultural exchange programs
  • R Visa = Workers in religious occupations
  • TN Visa = North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional workers
  • V Visa = Spouses and children of permanent residents, immigrant visa pending

Note: For some categories of visas, a person or company in the United States must first file a visa petition with the USCIS. These generally include temporary work visas and fiance(e) visas.