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Nonimmigrant Visas

The categories of nonimmigrant visas read like alphabet soup and are notated by a letter-number combination as appearing on the I-94 Arrival-Departure Card.

A Diplomats and foreign government officials
B Visitors for business or pleasure (B-1/B-2 information)
C Transit visa
D Crewmen
E Treaty Traders and Investors (E-1 & E-2 information)
F Students (academic) (F-1 information)
H Temporary Workers
I Representatives of foreign media
J Exchange Program students, scholars, trainees, teachers, research assistants, medical graduates, etc. (J-1 information)
K Fiancees of U.S. citizens
L Intracompany transferees (L-1 information)
M Students (vocational) (M-1 information)
N Parents or children of an alien accorded Special Immigrant status
O Individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, athletics, movies, or television
P Athletes and entertainers - highly qualified individuals / groups as well as accompanying group members
Q Participants in international cultural programs
R Religious workers
S Individuals coming to the U.S. to testify in a criminal proceeding
TN Canadians and Mexicans entering under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

B - Visitors for business or pleasure (B-1/B-2 information)

B1/B2 visas are nonimmigrant visas and must be applied for by submitting a completed and signed Form DS-156 together with a valid passport. Other documents, which may be required along with this, are mentioned below.

The State Department has introduced an updated Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form (DS-156). The updated DS-156 includes additional questions, a dedicated space on the form for a 1-D barcode sticker and has been redesigned with certain improvements.

B-1 / Business visas

The B-1 or Business Visitor's Visa is a permit issued by the U.S. Govt. to a foreigner who intends to enter the U.S. for such period of time as may be necessary to conduct and conclude a 'business activity'. Such foreigners, entering the U.S. in this category, may do so, provided, their objective is to participate in a legitimate activity.

Over the years, the common basis to evaluate the proposed business activity as 'International' has generally been held to be as follows:

  1. An obvious intention displayed by the foreigner to carry on residing at his foreign residence;
  2. The place where the profits will accumulate and the principal place of business are in a foreign country;
  3. The foreigner is paid a remuneration from outside the U.S.;
  4. The foreigner is a business person or, if employed, is pursuing an activity in furtherance of international trade or commerce; and
  5. The foreigner's intent to stay in the U.S. is of a temporary nature, even if the business activity is not.

The FAM also declares that B-1 status would also be available to a foreigner who is entering the U.S. to:

  1. take part in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars:
  2. consult business associates;
  3. discuss contracts;
  4. litigate;
  5. carry out independent research;
  6. participate in such commercial transactions which do not involve profitable employment in the U.S.

B-2 / Tourist Visas

The B-2 or Tourist Visitor's Visa is a permit issued by the U.S. Govt. to a foreigner who intends to enter the U.S. for a short period of time for the purpose of a holiday. Persons in this category are usually given a period of entry of six months, but this is at the discretion of the INS officer at the port-of-entry and he/she may grant a lesser period if he/she thinks fit. Permission to stay longer than six months would be granted only under special circumstances.

There are five basic requirements for being granted this visa:

  1. The alien is entering the U.S. for a limited duration and will depart at the end of a temporary visit.
  2. The alien maintains a foreign residence that he/she has no intention of abandoning while in the U.S.
  3. The alien has adequate financial arrangements to travel to, sojourn in and depart from the U.S.
  4. The alien will engage solely in activities relating to pleasure.
  5. The alien will not engage in employment of any kind in the U.S.

NOTE: Immigration law changes frequently. The resources and information provided on this web site are intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Although we strive to keep this information current, we neither promise nor guarantee that the information is the latest available, or that it applies to your specific situation. You should not act or rely upon the information in these pages without seeking the advice of an attorney.

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