Non-Immigrant and Immigrant Visas allow foreign nationals to enter the United States and in certain circumstance to apply for permanent residency (Green Card). Immigrant visas allow foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency (Green Card) while non-immigrant visas do not directly allow a foreign national to obtain permanent residency. At Shestopalko Law we help obtain visas for individuals, organizations, and families. Our immigration lawyers help clients in all non-immigrant and immigrant visa categories.
Non-Immigrant Visitor Visas
The B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visas are non-immigrant visas for aliens desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1 Visa), for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2 Visa), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2 Visa).
B-1 Business Visitors
B-1 business activities include work that is “necessary and incidental” to a B-1 visitor’s regular employment abroad. The “necessary and incidental” work covers a wide range of activities such as:
- Attending and participating in scientific, educational, professional, and business meetings
- Attending and participating in conventions, conferences, and seminars
- Consulting with business partners and associates
- Engaging in negotiations and executing contracts with American and non-American entities
- Researching and preparing options or plans for opening a business in the United States
B-2 Tourist and Medical Visitors
B-2 visitor non-immigrant visa allows aliens to temporarily enter the United States for the purpose:
- Visiting relatives in the United States
- visiting friends in the United States
- Obtaining medical treatment in United States
- Social Activism
- Participation in sporting or other competitions where the alien is not compensated
- Participation in concerts or other shows where the alien is not compensated
Duration of Admission for B-1/B-2 Visitors:
The maximum period of initial admission to the United States is typically six months, but the actual period of admission may be for a period of time which is “fair and reasonable” for completion of the purpose of the visit.
Generally to obtain a tourist, a medical or a temporary business visa, an applicant needs to:
- Apply for a visa at the United States Consulate
- Document that the trip to the United States is for specific and limited period
- Document evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States
Numerous factors influence whether a visa is granted by a consular officer, please contact our attorney to guide you through this process.
Non-Immigrant Employment Visas
The H-1B Visa is the most commonly sought visa for professional workers. The H-1B Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows United States companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as: engineering, IT, finance, accounting, medicine, mathematics, and architect. The job position offered by United States employer must require theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, such as a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience. For more detailed information on H1-B Visa please visit our Employment Immigration Page.
Annual Cap – annual quota of 65,000 visas is available per year with an additional 20,000 for applicants holding advanced United States degrees.
Duration of Stay – H-1B petitions may be approved for up to three years and can be extended for up to a total of six years.
The H-2B Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows United States companies to employ to hire foreign national workers to come to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural work, which may be one-time, seasonal, peak load, or intermittent. The H-2B Visa covers unskilled or job-trained workers in a variety of non-agricultural industries. For more detailed information on H2-B Visa please visit our Employment Immigration Page.
Annual Cap – the annual quota of 66,000 visas is available yearly with 33,000 visas for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 – Mar. 31) and 33,000 visa for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (Apr. 1 – Sept. 30).
Duration of Stay – The United States employer’s need may generally be only for one year therefore the H1-B Visas are generally issued for a one year period.
H-3 Visa allows aliens to receive training in a field that is not academic or medical at the request of a sponsoring United States organization or individual. An H-3 trainee cannot engage in productive employment in the United States. The training must not be available in the applicant’s home country. The applicant must show that he or she has a foreign residence he or she has no intention of abandoning. H-3 status is granted for a maximum of two years. For more information on the H-3 Visa please contact our attorneys at Shestopalko Law which would assist you for your individual case.
Non-Immigrant International Exchange Visas
The J-1 Visa is issued to aliens who wish to come to the United States to participate in programs which include a combination of education, work training, and cultural exchange. There are over a thousand qualifying programs in a broad range of fields, accepting participants with many different levels of education and work experience.
Before an alien is eligible to apply for a J-1 Visa, he or she must apply to and be accepted into a sponsoring program accredited by the U.S. State Department. There are 14 categories in which qualifying programs exist. For more information on the J Visa please contact our attorneys at Shestopalko Law which would assist you in your individual case.
The list of 14 categories and the maximum validity period for a J-1 Visa
- University professors and research scholars (maximum duration of three years)
- Short-term scholars (maximum duration of six months)
- Primary and secondary school teachers (maximum duration of three years)
- Secondary school students (maximum duration of one year)
- Trainees (maximum duration of 18 months)
- Interns (maximum duration of one year)
- College and university students (maximum duration for the academic degree and for a maximum of two years)
- Specialists in labor law, communications, public administration, environmental science, and museum exhibitions (maximum duration of one year)
- Foreign doctors (maximum duration of seven years)
- International visitors (maximum duration of one year)
- Government visitors (maximum duration of 18 months)
- Summer Student for work and Travel (4 months)
- Camp counselors (maximum duration of four months)
- Au-pairs (maximum duration of one year)
Annual Cap – There is NO annual quota or cap on the number of J Visas issued each year.
Non-Immigrant Investor Visas
E-1 Trader Visa and E-2 Investor Visa: The E Visa category allows foreign nationals who are citizens of treaty countries to start a businesses in the United States. There are two types of E Visas. The E-1 allows individuals to enter and reside in the United States to carry out substantial international trade of goods, services, or technology between their qualifying home country and the United States. The E-2 Visa allows individuals to enter and reside in the United States for the purposes of investing (“substantial amount of capital”) to set up a business, practice, or office. Usually, E Visas are valid for a period from 2 to 5 years. The foreign national can renew the E Visa indefinitely as long as they continue to maintain an E business in the United States. For more detailed information on E Visas please visit our Investor Immigration Page.
Duration of Stay in United States
- The E-1 Visa status is usually granted in two-year increments and can be extended indefinitely
- The E-2 Visa status is usually granted in three month to two-year increments and can be extended indefinitely
Annual Cap – There is NO annual quota or cap on the number of E visas issued each year.
Non-Immigrant Athletes & Performers Visas
The Athlete and Entertainer Visa may be used by athletes and entertainers to come to the United States to perform in athletics or entertainments. For more information on the P Visa please contact our attorneys at Shestopalko Law which would assist you in your individual case.
The P Visa is split into several sub categories:
- P-1 Visa (Athlete or Member of an Athletic team) – is reserved for international recognized athletes or individuals that are part of a team*
- P-1 Visa (Members of Entertainment Group) – is reserved for members of an internationally recognized entertainment group to enter and preform in the United States*
- P-2 Visa (Artists and Entertainer in Exchange Programs) – is reserved for artistes and entertainers coming to perform in the United States as part of an exchange program*
- P-3 Visa (Culturally Unique Artist and Entertainers) – is reserved for artists and entertained coming to the United States to perform or teach in a culturally unique program*
Annual Cap – There is NO annual quota or cap on the number of P Visas issued each year.
Duration of Stay – P Visa holders are generally admitted according to the duration of a specific competition, event, or performance. The longer the schedule of the event or events, the longer the admission into the United States.
*Essential personnel of the athletics team, entertainment, or artistic group may also come to the United States to assist P Visa holders.
Non-Immigrant Student Visas
An F-1 Visa allows aliens to come to the United States as a full-time academic or language students enrolled in a program leading to a degree or certificate. For more information on the F-1 Visa please contact our attorneys at Shestopalko Law which would assist you in your individual case.
General F-1 Student Visa requirements are:
- Alien is coming to the United States as a full-time student in a program which leads to the attainment of a specific vocational or educational degree
- Alien has already been accepted by a school approved by the United States government
- Alien has a sufficient knowledge of the English language
- Alien has the necessary financial support to complete the studies without having to earn any income in the United States
- Alien must demonstrate strong ties to their home country
- Alien maintains full time student status (usually 12 credit per semester in undergraduate or 8 credits per semester in graduate) while in the United States
Annual Cap – There is NO annual quota or cap on the number of F Visas issued each year.
Duration of Stay – The F Visa status is usually granted for the duration of the educational program. An F Visa holder has 60 days to leave the United States after completion of the education program.
Immigrant Employment Visas
The EB-1 Visa (category/preference) is an immigrant visa which allows foreign nationals who are the top in their professional field to obtain permanent residency in the United States. For more detailed information on EB-1 Visa please visit our Employment Immigration Page.
Within the EB-1 category/preference there are three sub-groups:
- EB-1A: Extraordinary Workers who poses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- EB-1B: Outstanding professors and researches with at least three years of experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally.
- EB-1C: Multinational executives and multinational managers who have been employed by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the United States employer and who are coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity in the United States.
Annual Cap – The yearly quota or cap of EB-1 Visas issued each year is 40,000 visas (subject further to per-country limits).
Immigrant Family Visas
United States immigration law allows for the immigration of aliens to the United States based on their relationship to a United States citizen or a green card holder (legal permanent resident). United States citizens and green card holders (lawful permanent residents) are entitled to file an immigrant petition for his or her qualifying relative to immigrate to the United States. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issues visas or green cards (grants lawful permanent resident status) upon approval of immigrant petition filed by qualifying family member. After the petition is approved, the visa may be issued in as little as 90 days or as long as 25 years, depending upon which of the categories apply, and depending on whether the category is subject to the annual cap. However, not all family relationships entitle immigrants to move to the United States. For more detailed information please visit our Family Immigration Page.
United States Citizens may sponsor the following family members (categories) to migrate to the United States immediately:
- Husband, wife, or child under the age of 21* (immediate relative category – no annual cap)
- A parent if the United States citizen child is at least 21 years of age (immediate relative category – no annual cap)
United States Citizens may sponsor the following family members (categories) to migrate to the United States under an annual cap (categories of aliens who have to wait in the visa que for his or hers priority date*):
- An unmarried child over the age of 21 and his or her children (first preference category – limited by annual cap)**
- Married child of any age and his or her spouse and children (third preference category – limited by annual cap)
- Brother or sister of a United States citizen whose age is over 21 years old and the brother’s or sister’s spouses and children (fourth preference category – limited by annual cap)
Green card holder (lawful permanent residents) may sponsor the following family members (categories) to migrate to the United States under an annual cap (categories of aliens who have to wait in the visa que for his or hers priority date*):
- Husband or wife, and unmarried children under the age of 21* (second preference A category – limited by annual cap)
- Unmarried child over the age of 21 (second preference B category – limited by annual cap)**
For a current list of priority dates, see the United States Department of State’s current Visa Bulletin.
* The priority date is used to determine an immigrant’s place in the visa queue. When the priority date becomes available (current) the immigrant may be able to apply for a visa or adjustment of status and obtain green card (lawful permanent resident status) in the United States.
** Under the Child Status Protection Act, Immediate relative children’s age is frozen on the date that Form I-130 was successfully filed. Thus, if the child was under the age of 21 at the time the petition was filed, he or she is protected by Child Status Protection Act from aging out of his or her category (becoming older than 21). However, the child must remain unmarried in order to qualify.
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Disclaimer: This article discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice. No one should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Shestopalko Law expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this article.