Non-Immigrant Employment Visas Law

U.S. Visas

Most countries use visas to determine who can enter the country, for what purpose, and how long they can stay. The United States has several types of visas. U.S. visa applications can take a long time and have high application fees. Before applying for your visa, ensure you get the correct type of visa that covers your needs.

U.S. immigration law is complicated, even for U.S. citizens. For more information about visas and requirements for entering the U.S. from abroad, contact an immigration lawyer for legal advice.

Non-Immigrant Visas for Visitors and Workers

Visas for the United States are generally categorized as immigrant and non-immigrant visas. An immigrant visa is for people from a foreign country who want to live and work in the U.S. Non-immigrant visas are for people from other countries who will stay in the U.S. temporarily but plan to keep their citizenship in their home country.

The most common type of nonimmigrant visa is for tourists. According to the U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom, about 76.9 million people visited the U.S. in 2017. Visitors came from all over the world, but some of the largest increases in visitors came from South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, and Ireland.

Who Needs a U.S. Visa to Enter the United States?

Citizens of some countries don’t need a visa to come for a temporary stay. Visitors from other countries require visas and additional screening, even for a short stay. Visa requirements are generally based on the visitor’s citizenship and the travel’s purpose. Types of visas for temporary visitors include:

  • Tourists (B-2 visas)
  • Diplomatic personnel (A-1 visa)
  • Business travelers (B-1 visa)
  • Medical treatment (B-2 visa)
  • Air and sea crew members (D visa)
  • Students (F-1 visa)
  • Temporary workers (H visa)
  • Specialty occupation workers (H-1B)
  • Exchange programs (J-1 visa)
  • Religious workers (R visa)

Who Can Enter the U.S. Without a Visa?

Not every visitor has to get a visa to come into the country for a temporary stay. Some of the most regular visitors to the U.S. come from neighbors in Canada. Most Canadians do not require a visa to enter the U.S., but there are some exceptions.

The most common way people can enter the U.S. without being visa holders is under the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program allows most people from participating countries to come to the U.S. for travel or business for no more than 90 days without a visa.

According to the U.S. Department of State (DOS), 40 participating countries, including much of Europe and parts of East Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Eligible visitors still need a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval before entering the U.S.

How Can I Apply for a U.S. Visa?

The visa application process can take time, effort, and money. Make sure you are using the right visa application form. Be cautious about using any visa services for a visitor visa. Some visa service providers will take shortcuts that could cause you to be denied entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Most visitors on a B-2 visa can apply with an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. This requires having a lot of your travel plan information already on-hand to complete the application, including:

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary
  • Dates of your previous trips to the U.S.
  • Education and work history
  • Photograph for biometrics
  • Other information

Some applicants will require a visa interview at their local U.S. consulate or embassy. If you need an interview, you must appear for a visa appointment with a consular officer. Contact your local consulate about processing times for tourist visas, student visas, and other visa categories.

Can an Immigration Attorney Help With a U.S. Visa?

qualified U.S. immigration attorney can help with questions about U.S. immigration law. Make sure you are asking a lawyer for legal advice. Some countries have “notarios” who can provide some legal services, but notaries in the U.S. are not qualified to give legal advice. An attorney can also help if your application was denied and you want to have a better chance of having your travel approved.

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