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NONIMMIGRANT VISAS - A through V

A Visa

The A-1 visa is designated for ambassadors, public ministers, career diplomats, or consular officers who have been accredited by a foreign government that is recognized by the United States. The A-2 visa is for other officials or employees who do not fall into the definition of the A-1 visa but have been accredited by a foreign government recognized by the United States. The A-3 visa is specified for attendants, servants, personal employees, and the immediate family members of such persons. This preference of nonimmigrant visas accounts for about one-half of a percent of all nonimmigrant visas annually.

B Visa

B visas are separated into two different types, B-1 for temporary visitors for business purposes and B-2 for temporary pleasure purposes, although the visa application is the same. The B-1 visa allows for temporary business that does not include any form of labor, either skilled or unskilled. The B-2 visa allows for temporary pleasure. Both B-visa classifications prohibit the holder from engaging in any form of work, paid or voluntary. Likewise, B-visa holders may not enroll in any educational institution. This preference category accounts for nearly 42 percent of all nonimmigrant visas issued annually.

C Visa

C visas are reserved for aliens in transit through the United States. There are three designations of visas for aliens passing in transit, non-diplomats in transit through the United States (C-1), aliens in transit to and from the United Nations headquarters district in New York City (C-2), and alien diplomats in transit through the United States (C-3). This preference accounts for almost 1 percent of all nonimmigrant visas annually.

D Visa

D visas are reserved for alien crewmen. The D-1 visa is reserved for crewmen aboard a vessel or aircraft that does not have its home port or operating base in the United States where the alien intends to depart from the United States on the same vessel or aircraft or similar means of transportation. The D-2 is designated for alien crewmen in the same situation as D-1 holders except that the vessel that brings the alien is permitted to have a home port or an operating base in the United States. Additionally, the vessel must land in either Guam or the Mariana Islands and intend to depart after a temporary stay, with the alien crewman leaving on the same vessel.

E Visa

E visa designation is reserved for aliens, and their spouses and children, who are nationals of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce or navigation, and who are entering to carry on some form of business. The E-1 visa is reserved for aliens carrying on substantial trade, whether in services or technology, between the United States and the state of which the alien is a national. The E-2 visa is reserved for aliens entering to develop or direct the operations of a company of which the alien has or is investing a substantial amount of capital. The E-3 is reserved for nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia who enter to perform services in a specialty occupation and whose employer has filed a labor attestation. This nonimmigrant preference accounts for a little over one-half percent of all nonimmigrant admissions annually.

F Visa

F visas are reserved for aliens, and their spouses and minor children, who seek to enter temporarily to pursue a course of study. F-visa classification contains three designations: F-1 designation is reserved for aliens who are bona fide students qualified to pursue a course of study at any established academic institution or accredited language training program. F-2 designation is specifically reserved for the spouse and minor children of an F-1 visa holder, if they are accompanying or following to join such alien. F-3 designation is reserved for nationals of Canada and Mexico who fall under the F-1 classification. The distinction between F-1 and F-3 is that the course of study for the Canadian or Mexican national can be a part-time or full-time course, and the national must commute to the institution of study from his country of nationality. F visa preference accounts for about three percent of nonimmigrant annual admissions.

G Visa

The G preference visa is designated for representatives of foreign governments who have principal residence representative status in the United States, and their immediate family, staff, and employees. G-1 preference is given to principal resident representatives of a foreign government recognized by the United States, and the government representative is entitled to privileges and immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act. This preference applies to accredited resident members of the staff of the G-1 holder as well as the holder's immediate family. G-2 visas are for other accredited representatives who are not principal resident representatives of a foreign government mentioned in G-1 status, as well as their immediate family members. The G-3 preference is reserved for accredited alien representatives, and their immediate family members, who qualify under the G-1 or G-2 categories, but their foreign government either is not recognized by the United States or is not covered under the International Organizations Immunities Act. G-4 is reserved for officers and employees of organizations covered under the Immunities Act and members of their immediate family. The last category, G-5, is reserved for attendants, servants, and personal employees of any of the four previous categories and their immediate family members. This preference category accounts for one-third of a percent of all nonimmigrant visas annually.

H Visa

The H visa preference is reserved for aliens entering to perform short-term labor or service or receive training from an employer that has petitioned for such alien. For each classification, except for H-1C (registered nurses participating in the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas), an employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and a Labor Condition Application before the alien may apply for a visa. If the occupation that the alien seeks requires a state or local license, the license must be obtained before approval of the petition. This classification accounts for about 2 percent of nonimmigrant admissions annually.

H-1B classification is reserved for aliens coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation. This includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. The authorized period of time that an alien granted an H-1B visa can stay may not exceed six years. There is a numerical cap on the number of aliens who may be granted this visa status--sixty-five thousand for each fiscal year. This preference category alone accounts for almost 52 percent of all temporary worker (H) visas.

H-1B1 visas are reserved for aliens subject to the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

H-2A visas are reserved for aliens coming to perform agricultural labor or service of a temporary or seasonal nature. The provisions for admission of an H-2A temporary worker are found in INA § 218. The numerical cap on this visa is set at sixty-six thousand per fiscal year. Similar to the H-1B visa, the numerical limitation applies only to the principal alien petitioner and not spouses or children. This category accounts for 22 percent of all H visas and about one-half percent of all nonimmigrant visas annually.

H-2B visas are reserved for aliens coming to the United States to perform temporary nonagricultural labor or service. As in other temporary employment-based categories, the granting of this visa to an alien is dependent on the potential employer's demonstration that there are no U.S. citizens available to perform the labor and that the wages that the alien will earn will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. The annual cap on workers receiving this visa is set currently at sixty-six thousand. This category of H visa accounts for about one tenth of a percent of all nonimmigrant admissions.

H-3 visas are reserved for trainees who are coming to participate in a training program that is not designed to lead to employment in the United States. This category accounts for one-tenth of a percent of all nonimmigrant visas.

H-4 visas are reserved for the spouses and unmarried minor children of H-visa recipients. This category accounts for about one-third of a percent of nonimmigrant admissions annually and 16 percent of all H-visa admissions annually.

I Visa

I visas are reserved for bona fide representatives of the foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media who are entering the United States for the sole purpose of engaging in their form of work. Additionally, the alien must be a citizen of a foreign country that has reciprocity with the United States. The spouse and minor children of such alien are also allowed to enter under the I visa. The issuance of this visa accounts for about one-tenth of a percent of total nonimmigrant admissions annually.

J Visa

The J visa is reserved for alien exchange visitors classified as student, scholars, or trainees who will be participating in a program approved by the State Department such as an Au Pair, Camp Counselor, College and University Student, Government Visitor, Intern, International Visitor, Physician, Professor and Research, Scholar, Secondary School Student, Short-Term Scholar, Specialist, Summer Work Travel, Teacher, or Trainee program. J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program (official site).

Aliens entering to receive graduate medical education are subject to additional restrictions under this visa provision and may need a waiver for such restrictions.

K Visa

K visas are reserved for fiancÚ(e)s of U.S. citizens who are entering the United States to follow through with marriage to the citizen within ninety days of their admission (K-1) or an alien who has already married a U.S. citizen petitioner and is entering to await the approval of an immediate relative petition (K-3). The minor children of both a K-1 and K-3 visa recipient are allowed to enter whether they are coming with the alien parent or follow to join later.

L Visa

The L visa is reserved for intracompany transferees. In order to qualify for this visa, the alien seeking admission must have at least one year of continuous employment with the entity or one of its subsidiaries for which it will receive the transfer to the United States. Additionally, the alien must be assuming a managerial or executive role, or a position that requires specialized knowledge possessed by the alien. The L-1 visa is for the principal beneficiary of the petition, and the L-2 visa is for the spouse and minor children of the principal beneficiary alien. This visa category accounts for about one and one-half percent of all nonimmigrant admissions annually.

M Visa

M visas are reserved for aliens entering to participate in a full course of study at a vocational school that has agreed to accept the alien. The alien's spouse and minor children may also enter if following or joining the primary visa beneficiary; they are granted M-2 status. Additionally, M-3 status is granted to nationals of Canada or Mexico who meet the requirements of the M-1 visa except that the alien commutes to and from the school and the country of nationality. This visa category accounts for less than one-half of a percent of all nonimmigrant admissions.

N Visa

The N visa is further separated into two additional visas, the N-8 and the N-9. The N-8 is reserved for the parents of aliens who are granted special immigrant status. Thus, when a nonimmigrant in G-4 status receives special immigrant status, and the alien is under the age of 21, the parents of such alien may receive the N-8 visa. N-9 status is reserved for the children of a parent who has been granted special immigrant status.

NATO Visa

NATO visas are classified as NATO-1 through NATO-7 and are reserved for certain NATO employees and their immediate families. This limited category accounts for just over one-half of a percent of annual nonimmigrant admissions.

O Visa

O visas are reserved for aliens with extraordinary abilities in the fields of science, art, education, business, athletics, or the motion picture and television industries. The extraordinary ability must be demonstrated by national or international acclaim or, in reference to the motion picture or television industries, by a record of demonstrated extraordinary achievement. Further, individuals who are accompanying and assisting the alien with extraordinary abilities may receive an O-2 visa if they possess critical skills and experience above those of a general nature, are integral to the performance of the work of the principal alien, and intend to return to their country of nationality. The spouse and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders may also be admitted on an O-3 visa. This category accounts for about one fifth of a percent of annual nonimmigrant admissions.

P Visa

P visas are reserved for athletes and entertainers who have a residence in their country of nationality that they have no intention of abandoning and who have had an employer or sponsor petition with the Service for their temporary employment. The spouse and children of such aliens may also be admitted. P-visa recipients account for about one fifth of one percent of nonimmigrant admissions annually.

Q Visa

The Q visa is reserved for aliens who are coming to the United States to participate in an international cultural exchange program. The traditional visa will be the Q-1 category. The Q-2 and Q-3 visas were previously reserved for aliens coming to participate in the Irish peace process cultural and training program and their dependents.

R Visa

The R visa is reserved for religious workers and their spouses and children. A religious worker is a person who has been a member of a religious organization for at least the past two years and is coming to perform work as either a minister, a professional within the religious organization, or another form of religious vocational work. The religion must have a bona fide nonprofit organization in the United States; the alien will be admitted for a time not to exceed five years. This category accounts for about one-half of one percent of annual nonimmigrant admissions.

S Visa

The S visa is reserved for aliens who are witnesses or informants regarding criminal organizations or terrorist organizations or operations and may include family members. The S visa classifications are S-5, S-6, and S-7. S-5 classification is reserved for informants or witnesses of criminal organizations or enterprises; it is limited to two hundred admissions annually. The S-6 classification is for an alien in possession of critical reliable information regarding a terrorist organization or operation and is limited to fifty admissions annually. The S-7 classification is reserved for family members, including parents, spouses, and children (both married and unmarried) of the principal S-visa beneficiary.

T Visa

T visas are reserved for victims of severe forms of trafficking and certain family members accompanying or following to join.

U Visa

The U visa is reserved for aliens who meet four requirements: (1) the alien has suffered substantial mental or physical abuse caused by certain criminal activity, (2) the alien possesses information regarding the criminal activity that caused the mental or physical abuse; (3) the alien has been, is currently, or is likely to be helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity that caused the mental or physical abuse; and (4) the criminal activity that occurred was in violation of the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States. If the alien meets the requirements for a U visa, the spouse, children, and in certain cases, the unmarried siblings of the U visa beneficiary may accompany or follow to join.

TN and TD Visas

The TN visa is reserved for citizens of Mexico and Canada who are entering to participate in business at a professional level. The TD visa is reserved for the dependents of the TN visa recipient. This visa category accounts for about one third of one percent of nonimmigrant admissions annually.

V Visa

The V visa is reserved for the spouse and children of lawful permanent residents. An alien may benefit from this visa if he meets the requirements of INA § 101(a)(15)(V)(i) and (ii). According to the Department of State, this visa has not been issued in several years, and the department does not foresee V visas being issued in the future. According to the last available records this visa category accounted for less than one tenth of a percent of nonimmigrant admissions.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program, created in 1986, allows aliens from certain countries to bypass the valid visa requirement. Generally, aliens holding a visa issued through this program are designated as WT (waiver tourist) or WB (waiver business) visa holders. Recipients of WT and WB visas account for about 45 percent of all nonimmigrant visas issued annually.

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