Temporary visas

+ An Introduction to Temporary Immigration

The nonimmigrant visa classification covers a broad range of visas used to enter the U.S. for work, pleasure or study. Some visas are considered ‘dual intent’; you may attempt to obtain permanent residency (a green card) while under that classification. Most nonimmigrant visas, however, require you establish the demonstration of nonimmigrant intent. This means you should demonstrate that you have a permanent residence in your home country that you have no intention of abandoning. The duration of time you may spend in the U.S. can range from a few days to several years, depending on the visa. In most situations, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany you on a derivative visa.

student visas

+ F-1 Visa

Many schools in the United States offer great opportunities for students who wish to further their education and training. The intellectual stimulation and social interaction gained by studying in the U.S. can become vital elements of a student’s growth and development.

Foreign national students who want to study in the U.S. usually apply for the F-1 visa. Vocational students most often apply for M-1 status.

F-2 status allows your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to join you in the U.S. Note that you should bring them with you when you visit the consulate to apply for your F-1 visa. If your spouse and/or dependent children are joining you later, they will need to submit a copy of your USCIS Form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students) and documents proving their relationship to you to the U.S. embassy staff. The F-2 status of spouse and children is dependent upon your F-1 status. As soon as you are no longer an F-1 student, your family will lose their F-2 status.

+ M-1 Visa

The M-1 visa offers students the opportunity to train in a positive U.S. environment while strengthening their technical and non-academic skills (this visa does not apply to language training). The M-1 visa is offered to students who wish to pursue full-time study at an USCIS-approved vocational or non-academic school in the U.S.

You must apply to and be accepted by a USCIS-approved school before applying for this visa. You will also need to be able to prove to the U.S. consulate that you have the money to afford to both go to school and take care of your expenses while in the U.S.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. if they have nonimmigrant M-2 status. Although M-1 and M-2 visa holders are not allowed to work, M-1 holders may apply for an extension of up to six months for practical training. If you lose your status, your spouse and children will also lose their status.

work visas

+ H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa or status is provided to foreign workers coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in a “specialty occupation” (and also to fashion models of distinguished merit and ability).[1]

A specialty occupation meets the following criteria:

attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States; degree requirement is common to the industry, or particular position is so complex/unique it can be performed only by a person with a degree; employer normally requires a degree/equivalent for the position; nature of specific duties is so specialized and complex that knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree. The following have already been held by the USCIS to be in a profession/specialty occupation:

Architects Systems analysts/engineers

Accountants Engineers

Lawyers/foreign law advisors Teachers/Professors

Scientists Journalists/Editors

Librarians Technical publications writers

Psychologists Financial analysts

Management consultants Market research analysts

Computer Positions:

IT positions can include Engineers, Systems Analysts, and Programmers. Programmers dealing with scientific or engineering applications are more likely to be professionals than are programmers who deal mainly with business applications.

Trends and changes in occupations

The government’s determination of educational requirements for an occupation has been subject to change. Some occupations have been recognized as specialty occupations, which were previously regarded as not requiring a specific college degree. Recently we have found that the government has been challenging and scrutinizing our market research analyst cases and related positions.

[1] INA Section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b)

+ H-1B1 Visa

The H-1B1 visa is similar to the H-1B and is for persons in “specialty occupations.” This new category was created by the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

In order to qualify for H-1B1 classification, the applicant must have theoretical and practical application of specialized knowledge and must have at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent AND the job sought must require at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Because this is not a self-petitioning category, the applicant must have a sponsoring employer in the U.S.

The spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 of an H-1B1 worker are allowed to accompany this individual as H-4 dependents. However, they cannot work unless they qualify for a work visa. H-4 dependents, however, can enroll and attend schools in the U.S. without obtaining a student visa.

STEPS

Because the H-1B1 visa requires a U.S. sponsor, the applicant must obtain a written offer of employment from a U.S. employer. Unlike the H-1B visa, there is no need for the employer to file an I-129 Petition with the USCIS in the U.S. However, like the H-1B, a prevailing wage needs to be obtained and a Labor Condition Attestation (LCA) needs to be filed.

DOCUMENTS

Both the applicant and the employer are required to submit documents for the H-1B1 visa. The applicant is required to submit the following documents when applying for an H-1B1 visa abroad:

A completed visa application (Form DS-156) with one recent photograph, 1 inches square (37mm x 37mm), of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering. The DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application is required of all men aged 16-45. A passport valid for travel to the U.S. for at least six months longer than your intended visit. Proof of nonimmigrant intent. The employer needs to provide the following:

Copy of the certified LCA. A written offer of employment.

+ H-2A Visa

The H-2A Visa is the most functional of all visa categories. It fills a specific need for both the U.S. and for foreign nationals. This visa allows foreign workers entry into the U.S. to work in agriculture. The H-2A visa is problematic: growers don’t like the limits of the visa and workers rights advocates don’t believe the laws provide enough support for workers.

The H-2A visa is not self-petitioned. Employers must prove that there are no U.S. workers available to perform the work to be completed. Although this is a temporary visa, it can be extended for up to three years.

Workers’ spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join them in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

+ H-2B Visa

While a limited amount of H-2B Visas are issued each year, the visa is nonetheless useful. The H-2B visa enables U.S. businesses, such as hotels, construction companies, and landscapers, to fill temporary needs for nonimmigrant workers. This visa is also occasionally used to hire professional basketball or hockey players. Many individuals who are unable to obtain an O or P Visa decide to apply for this visa instead. The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

+ H-3 Visa

The H-3 Visa is specifically designed to enable workers in “any field of endeavor” to train in the U.S. (USCIS). Although this loose classification includes agriculture, technology, communications, and governmental leadership, it does not apply to people seeking graduate medical training.

This visa can also be used by people entering the U.S. to receive training in special education “of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities” (USCIS).

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status; however, these dependents are not permitted to work.

Documents

Along with the requisite application documents, the H-3 Visa requires your employer to provide the following:

Proof that this training is not available in your home country, and that this training will aid you in your career. Proof that you will not engage in willful employment while in the U.S. Proof that the training is formal in nature.

+ L-1 Visa Transfer of Employees

The L-1 visa permits the transfer of employees/managers from an affiliated overseas company to the U.S. company.

Basic requirements for the L-1 visa are:

  • the employee must have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year in the preceding three years (6 months for L-1s coming in under blanket petitions)
  • the company for which the employee has worked for a year abroad must be related to the U.S. company (same employer/subsidiary/affiliate). The general rule is that one company must have “effective control” of the other company. Showing more than 50% ownership is generally sufficient but not mandatory
  • the company must be doing business in the United States and one other country during the whole period of the transfer

The employee may be admitted to the U.S. in L-1 status for the period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of 3 years. The total period of stay may reach 7 years for managers and executives, and 5 years for specialized knowledge personnel. For start up companies the initial period of admission for a manager or executive is 1 year.

The source of the employee’s salary is not important. He/she can continue to be paid by a foreign-based subsidiary affiliate, or parent company even after being transferred to the US for employment by the US company.

It is now possible for L-1 spouses to obtain employment authorization.

There is a program known as the L-1 Blanket Petition which provides a streamlined procedure to companies that have been frequent users of the L-1 visa category or are large multinational organizations. The L-1 Blanket Petition is available only if:

  • at least 10 L-1 approvals in the past year for executives, managers, or professionals with specialized knowledge, or
  • U.S. sales of at least $25 million, or
  • a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees

+ O-1 Visa

The O-1 Visa is for outstanding individuals. The visa enables people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture or television industry to enter the U.S. for temporary periods of time. The spectrum of eligible individuals in this loosely-defined category also includes chefs, carpenters and lecturers.

The O-1 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the U.S. under O-3 status, but they may not work.

To be considered an outstanding individual, you should be highly regarded in your field, and can only work in the U.S. in that area of expertise. The applicant may be required to provide documentation of a portion of the following:

  • A contract for employment.
  • The petition must include a printed article or statement from either a person or group proficient in your field.
  • This person/group should support your status as a respected member of your field.
  • That the applicant has been the recipient of a major award, such as a Nobel Prize.
  • That the applicant is a member of one of the leading associations in his or her field.
  • That the applicant has done original research in his or her field.
  • Published articles in major trade publications or other media by or about the applicant’s accomplishments in his or her field.
  • “A high salary or other remuneration for services” (USCIS).
  • That the applicant has been invited to judge a competition or take part in a panel discussion.
  • “Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation” (USCIS).

+ O-2 Visa

O-2 visas are offered to support personnel of O-1 Visa holders in the fields of athletics, entertainment, and motion picture and television production. This status is not applicable to personnel in the sciences, business, or education.

The O-2 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the U.S. under O-3 status. Your dependents must prove immediate relation to you, and will not be allowed to work.

+ P-1 Visa

Artists and athletes are essential to healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-1 visas are issued to entertainers, circus artists, and athletes who wish to work in the U.S.

Outstanding athletes may apply for this visa in order to compete in the U.S., either as individuals or as members of an internationally recognized athletic team.

Entertainment groups with an outstanding international reputation can be granted P-1 classification as a unit; however, individual entertainers within these groups cannot apply for separate visas.

The employer of P-1 visa applicants who are athletes may be asked to provide the following:

  • A letter from “an appropriate labor organization” (USCIS).
  • A contract with a major U.S. sports league or team.
  • Proof of “significant participation in a prior season with a major United States sports league” (USCIS).
  • Proof that the applicant has taken part in “international competition with a national team” (USCIS).
  • Proof of “significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition” (USCIS).
  • Letters demonstrating that the athlete or team is internationally renowned.
  • Proof that the individual or team is ranked, “if the sport has international rankings; or [that] the alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport” (USCIS).

The employer of P-1 visa applicants who are entertainers may be asked to provide the following:

  • A letter from “an appropriate labor organization” (USCIS).
  • Proof “that the group has been established and performing regularly for at least one year” (USCIS).
  • Proof that the group has received ” international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or evidence of at least 3 of the following:
    • The group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements;
    • The group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field, as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material;
    • The group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
    • The group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications;
    • The alien has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the alien’s achievements; or
    • The group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for “services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence” (USCIS).

+ P-2 Visa

Artists and athletes are essential to healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-2 Visas are issued to troupes or bands entering the U.S. as part of an exchange program.

Either the U.S. labor group that negotiated the exchange agreement, the sponsoring organization or the U.S. employer must file the petition. P-2 applicants may be asked to provide the following:

“A written consultation by an appropriate labor organization” (USCIS). “A copy of the formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the U.S. organization(s) sponsoring the alien and the organization(s) in a foreign country which will receive the U.S. artist or entertainer” (USCIS). A letter from the sponsoring organization describing the exchange which is to take place. Proof that the nonimmigrant visa petitioner and the U.S. artist or entertainer have “comparable skills and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar” (USCIS). Proof of the agreement between the organizations involved in the exchange.

+ P-3 Visa

Education is paramount to the exchange of ideas and beliefs between nations. The P-3 visa allows “culturally unique” artists and entertainers to travel to the U.S. for temporary positions as performers, teachers or coaches.

Either the sponsoring organization or the U.S. employer must file the P-3 visa application. P-3 applicants may be asked to provide the following :

A letter from the labor organization. Letters regarding the culturally unique individuals skills and talents in his or her field. Proof that “all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events” (USCIS). Articles and reviews in respected newspapers, journals and magazines that prove that the event will be culturally unique.

+ R-1 Visa

Who is eligible?

  1. Minister

A minister who is fully authorized and trained in religious denomination to conduct religious worship and perform duties usually performed by clergy of denomination.

  1. Religious worker

Must be a member of a religious denomination for at least 2 years immediately preceding the time of the application. The religious denomination must have a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the US. The duties must primarily relate to a traditional religious function and be recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination

The position can be full-time or part-time of at least 20 hours a week.

Employer

Documentation will need to be submitted with the application showing the religious nature and purpose of the organization: tax exempt status, organizational literature, and a religious denomination certificate.

Length of Stay

There is a 5 year maximum limit on this status. Then you must reside and be physically present abroad for at least one year in order to return to this status.

Family members

Family members receive R-2 status but cannot work.

Processing

A petition with all paperwork, proofs and filing fees must be filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How long?

The government processing time is approximately 5 – 6 months. Premium processing for an additional government fee of $1,225 will take 15 calendar days.

+ TN Visa

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to enter the U.S. to work temporarily under nonimmigrant TN status.

The following are the requirements to be eligible for the TN Visa:

The profession must be on the NAFTA list. The foreign national must possess the necessary training for that profession. The proposed position must be classified as a professional position. The foreign national must work for a U.S. employer. Canadian Citizens may apply for the TN-1 Visa, and Mexican citizens may apply for the TN-2 Visa. Please note that the process for obtaining a TN-2 Visa is much more complicated than that of the TN-1.

Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to enter the U.S. under the derivative TD-1 and TD-2 visas. Family members may study in the U.S., but they are not allowed to work.

TN-1 Visa

Canadian citizens applying for the TN-1 Visa must provide the following information at a U.S. port of entry:

A document from the employer outlining the job duties, the length of the assignment, and the agreed-upon salary. Proof that the employee has completed the necessary education or training for the position. Proof that the employee has all of the necessary licenses for the position. Proof of Canadian citizenship. Canadian citizens need not file a petition for employment; they must simply obtain TN status at a port of entry.

TN-2 Visa

Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for the TN-2 Visa. Unlike Canadian citizens, Mexican applicants must apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:

A document from the employer outlining the job duties, the length of the assignment, and the agreed-upon salary. Proof that the employee has completed the necessary education or training for the position. Proof that the employee has all of the necessary licenses for the position. Proof of Mexican citizenship.

Visitor VisaS

+ B-1 Visa

Everybody knows the U.S. is the best place to engage in business. And the best way to temporarily visit the U.S. to promote your business venture is under B-1 status. This merit-based visa allows access to a variety of economic opportunities in the U.S. Individuals eligible for this visa range from board members and athletes to musicians, entertainers, and servants of non-immigrants.

B-1 visa applicants must be able to prove:

The nature of the business that they plan to do. The exact length of time that they need to conduct their business. Their intention to return to their home country after the business has been concluded. B-1 applicants may stay in the U.S. for up to one year.

+ B-2 Visa

The B-2 visa is the ideal entry pass for tourists interested in seeing the U.S. through brief pleasure trips. The State Department defines “pleasure trips” as legitimate activities of a recreational character such as tourism, amusement, visits to friends and/or relatives, rest, medical treatment, or activities of a social or service nature.

The B-2 Visa can also be used by spouses or children of C-visa holders who wish to accompany crewmembers or aliens in transit to the U.S.

B-2 applicants must prove:

That they are coming to the U.S. for recreation or medical attention. That they are only going to remain in the U.S. for a specific amount of time. That they have enough money to pay for their trip. That they have a permanent residence in their home country to which they intend to return. B-2 applicants may stay in the U.S. for up to one year.

+ Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) offers an easy, effective method to travel to the U.S. for business or pleasure. The program enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for pleasure or business for 90 days or less without officially obtaining a U.S. visa.

While most interested parties do not need to apply for a visa, certain exceptions do apply.

Some travelers still need to apply for a visa, including people who plan to work or study in the U.S., stay more than 90 days, or people who might otherwise be ineligible for a visa. Travelers who have previously been denied visas, who have criminal records or who may be ineligible to enter the U.S. on the VWP, should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate before attempting to use the VWP to enter the U.S.

Visa Waiver Program applicants must:

Have a machine-readable passport issued by your participating country that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of your return or a non-immigrant visa. Have a round-trip ticket issued on a carrier that has signed an agreement with the U.S. government to participate in the VWP. Agree to waive any right to appeal a denial of entry.

other visas

+ C-1 Visa

Travelers passing through the United States don’t need to be trapped in the airport. The C-1 Visa, also known as the transit visa, enables traveling nonimmigrants to leave the airport and visit family or friends or partake in tourist or shopping ventures. While you are required to leave the U.S. on your departing flight, you are able to spend your waiting time enjoying your surroundings. Each family member should apply for a separate C-1 visa, which will enable the entire family eligible to travel through the U.S.

STEPS

You may petition for the C visas in person or by mail. Please contact the USCIS Branch, U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consular office that has jurisdiction over the location of your home.

DOCUMENTS:

To apply for a C Visa, you must supply the following documents:

A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are required. Two recent photographs 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering. A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit. You must also prove the following:

You are entering the U.S. only to pass through in transit You have enough funds to reach your proposed destination. You have a ticket or other means to reach your proposed destination. You have permission to enter the country of your final destination, if necessary. Your stay cannot exceed 29 days

+ C-2 Visa

The C-2 visa allows foreign nationals to travel to and from the United Nations. C-2 visas are valid for up to 29 days. C-2 visa holders may not change their status. Under certain circumstances, this visa may be used for aliens in transit and crewmembers.

+ C-3 Visa

Government officials traveling through the U.S. to a foreign destination may apply for the C-3 Visa. This visa will enable you to leave the airport and enjoy your surroundings. Your family members and personal employees may also apply for the C-3 Visa. C-3 visa holders may not accept employment while under this status. The C-3 visa is valid for up to 29 days, and under certain circumstances may be used for aliens in transit or crewmembers of a ship or aircraft.

+ D-1 Visa

Crewpersons serving in good faith for normal operations aboard vessels docked temporarily in the U.S. may apply for the D-1 Visa. This classification includes musicians, stewards, technicians, and chefs.

You may temporarily remain in the U.S. for as long as you are a member of the crew. People who are traveling with the D-1 visa holder may remain in the U.S. for as long as the D-1 nonimmigrant is allowed. Under certain circumstances, D-1 visa holders may be permitted to perform longshore work in U.S. ports of entry.

This visa does not apply to workers on U.S. fishing boats.

+ D-2 Visa

Crewpersons serving in good faith for normal operations aboard vessels may apply for the D-2 Visa. This classification includes musicians, stewards, technicians and chefs. The D-2 visa is designed for crewmembers or airmen who are leaving one vessel to depart on another. Those who are traveling with the D-2 crewmember are allowed to do so for as long as the visa remains valid.

+ I Visa

The I visa is a vital tool for connecting all nations as the international community moves toward increasing globalization. The I visa is available to members of the media, such as reporters, freelance journalists, and film crew members. I visas are available to persons only to work for a foreign media outlet, or a U.S.-based subsidiary of a foreign media company.

I visas are only available to those who are based in their home country, and intend to return home after their job has been completed. The I visa applicant must prove:

That his or her stay in the U.S. will be temporary. That he or she will have sufficient funds to stay in the U.S. That he or she intends to return to the home country after the work has been completed. The I visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for derivative I status. Applicants for the derivative I visa must include a copy of the media employee’s I visa.

+ Q-1 Visa

The Q-1 visa supports international cultural exchange such as practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant’s home country in the U.S. This visa enables individuals to participate in exchange programs in the U.S.

Q-1 visa holders must be at least 18 years old and possess the ability to effectively convey their home country’s history and culture for a U.S. audience. Their U.S. sponsor must agree to pay them the same rate that a similar worker in the U.S. would receive.

The Q-1 application must be accompanied by evidence that the employer/sponsor:

Intends to provide “an overview of the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, tradition and/or other cultural attributes of the participant’s home country” (USCIS). Intends to make the program available to the public for the purpose of intercultural exchange between the visa holder and the American public. “Has designated a qualified employee to administer the program and serve as liaison with USCIS” (USCIS). Can provide a working environment comparable to that of a domestic employee providing the same services. Is capable of properly compensating the Q-1 visa holder for his or her work.

investor visas

+ E-1 Visa

U.S immigration policy supports investors and foreign commerce in a variety of ways. The E-1 Visa is issued to individuals known as “treaty traders”. A treaty trader is defined as a national of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

The E-1 applicant must be coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade, or to develop and direct the operations of a business in which he or she has invested or will soon invest a substantial amount of capital.

The E-1 visa application may be turned in to the U.S. consular in the applicant’s home country. E-1 visa holders may remain in the United States for up to two years.

Spouses and children of E-1 visa holders may accompany the treaty trader; however, spouses must apply to USCIS in order to work in the U.S.

+ E-2 Visa

U.S immigration policy supports investors and foreign commerce in a variety of ways. The E-2 visa is issued to individuals known as “treaty investors”. A treaty investor is defined as a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

The treaty investor must be able to demonstrate that they are coming to the U.S. to partake in either a substantial investment (including business in services or technology between, primarily, the U.S. and the treaty nation); or to direct the operations of a business in which the E-2 holder has invested or will soon invest a substantial amount of money.

E-2 visa holders must own more than fifty percent of the proposed investment, unless that person is entering the U.S. as an employee of a business providing more than fifty percent of the total investment.

E-2 visa holders may remain in the United States for up to two years. Your spouse and/or children under the age of 21 may accompany you under derivative status.

Family visas

+ K-1 Fiance(e) Visa

The K-1 nonimmigrant visa category permits the fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for a 90-day period to marry the U.S. citizen and apply for a green card.

Filing of K-1 Visa Petition with USCIS

The K-1 visa petition is filed by the U.S. citizen with the appropriate regional service center.

The following must be filed with the USCIS:

Form I-129F Color photographs of both parties Signed USCIS Forms G-325A for both parties Proof that both parties have met within two years before filing Supporting documentation Upon approval of the petition the USCIS sends notification to the appropriate consular post. An approved petition remains valid for 4 months.

Application for K-1 Visa with US Consulate

Instructions will be issued by the US Consulate.

Since the K-1 nonimmigrant seeks to enter the United States ultimately to apply for immigrant status, he or she must present the following documents:

Forms DS-156 Form DS-157 if relevant Valid Passport Birth Certificate Evidence of termination of prior marriages Police Certificates Form OF-157 Medical Examination record Evidence of available financial resources This part of the process will take 2 - 6 months for the Consulate to complete.

Admission to the United States and Adjustment of Status

K nonimmigrants are admitted with a single entry visa for 90 days to marry the petitioner. Employment may be authorized during this period. The K-1 fiance must apply for adjustment of status (green card) within 90 days of arrival.

+ Life Acts & Amendments

The Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act and amendments, effective since April 1, 2001, created new categories of nonimmigrant visas, including three V Visas, the K-3 Visa, and the K-4 Visa. These extremely helpful visas help ease the immigration process for thousands of individuals, and reunite families separated during the lengthy immigration approval process.

The new categories created by this act allow the issuance of nonimmigrant visas to spouses, children and, in some cases, grandchildren of both lawful permanent resident aliens and spouses of U.S. citizens. Beneficiaries may apply for admission to the U.S. as nonimmigrants and then remain in the U.S. until the visa petition is approved or denied.

The LIFE Act is specifically aimed at spouses and children for whom an immigrant visa or adjustment of status is not available as a result of processing delays or the lack of openings due to annual visa limitations.

V Visas

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of legal permanent residents who have waited for three years for visa approval may apply for the V visa.

V-1 visas are issued to spouses; V-2 visas are issued to children; and V-3 visas are issued to derivative children of either spouses or children. In order to be classified as V-3, applicants must show that they are the children of V-1 or V-2 status individuals. All applicants must be eligible for visa issuance under all other applicable immigration laws.

Because V Visas are only available for petitions filed on or before December 21, 2000, the category will cease to exist when there are no more eligible candidates.

V visas are valid for up to two years.

K-3 and K-4 Visas

K visas are open to spouses of U.S. citizens who are the beneficiaries of an immigrant visa petition. The spouses’ unmarried children under the age of 21 are also eligible. After arriving in the U.S. under K status, these visa holders must apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status. K visa holders may seek employment regardless of whether their permanent status has been approved.

K visas are valid for up to two years.

J-1 Exchange visitor

+ J-1 Visa

The J-1 visa is designed to provide educational and cultural exchange programs, and to promote the sharing of individuals, knowledge, and skills in education, the arts and sciences. This visa enables people to participate in exchange programs in the United States.

J-1 visa holders include students, trainees involved in on-the-job training, visiting scholars and researchers, and consultants. Although many J-1 visa holders come to the U.S. for paid on-the-job training, exchange students who visit the U.S. under this status are not permitted to work.

The J-1 applicant must prove:

That his or her stay in the U.S. will be temporary. That he or she will have sufficient funds to stay in the U.S. That he or she intends to return to home after the visit. Your spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for entry under J-2 status. Dependents of J-1 visa holders may work in the U.S. if they can prove that they are able to provide for their own expenses.