Non immigrant visas are issued to individuals who desire to visit, study, or work temporarily in the U.S. The following are some commonly encountered nonimmigrant visas:

B-1- Temporary business visitor visas

This visa allows foreigners to travel temporarily to the U.S. for certain limited business activities. Approved business activities include training, consulting, contract negotiations, estate settlements and attendance at conferences and conventions and the like. There must be proof:

  • That the trip is for a limited business purpose,
  • That the applicant will remain in the U.S. for a limited period (often 1 to 6 months),
  • That the applicant has sufficient funds to cover the trip expense and stay, and
  • That the applicant has residence and sufficient ties outside the U.S.

B-2 – Tourist visas

This visa is commonly used by tourist or other individuals wishing to visit with their families or friends. Applicants for this visa need to show:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof that the stay will be temporary
  • Proof of a foreign residence to which the applicant will return
  • Proof of financial support to cover the stay in the U.S.

Nationals and citizens traveling from certain countries may be exempt from the need to obtain this visa. These individuals are eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program and may visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without the need to first obtain a tourist visa.

E-1 and E-2-  Treaty traders and investors


The E-1 visa allows for an individual to be admitted to the US to engage in trade between the US and the individual’s home country. Individuals currently in the U.S. in lawful non-immigrant status, if eligible, may apply for an E-1 change of status. Certain employees of the principal trader may also be able to obtain E-1 status and can also apply if already in the U.S. in lawful non-immigrant status. The applicant trader must be a national of a treaty company and must be able to demonstrate that:

  • There is substantial trade between that country and the U.S. -whether in terms of monetary value or trade volume, and
  • That the majority of the trade transactions are between the trader’s treaty country and the U.S.

Spouses and children (under 21) of E-1 holders are also able to obtain E-1 visas as dependents. E-1 holders are able to freely travel in and out of the U.S., and, though limited initially to a period of stay of 2 years, may obtain unlimited extensions.


E-2 Visa on the other hand, allows the national of countries that maintain certain treaties with the U.S. to be admitted into the U.S. ?This is for the purpose of either developing or directing certain business investments in the U.S. The amount invested or to be invested must be substantial.

While there is no minimum dollar requirement, there must be proof that:

  • The money invested is considerable in relation to the amount it would take to buy or create the business
  • That the money invested is enough to ensure a commitment to the business, and
  • That the money invested is sufficient enough to increase the likelihood that the business will succeed.

The investor applicant is required to own the business enterprise i.e. own at least 50% of the enterprise or possess operational control of it.

As with the E-1 visa, spouses and children (under 21) of E-2 visa holders may also obtain E- 2 status. Furthermore, the E-2 visa holder is free to leave and re-enter the U.S. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions that may be granted after the expiration of the initial 2 year period.

F1- Students

Eligible applicants are those wishing to enter the U.S. to study full-time in an accredited school, college or university.  Key requirements for eligibility are:

  • Acceptance into an approved school, college or university,
  • Proof of sufficient funds for self-support for the entire course of study, and
  • Sufficient ties to the home country enough to prove a non-immigrant intent.

H-1B-  Temporary professional employment

This visa is required for employment in specialty occupations which are generally viewed as positions normally requiring specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree or the equivalent to such degrees. This visa is subject to annual numerical limitations or caps (65,000 each fiscal year). The H-1B2 is for research and development workers with the Department of Defense, while distinguished fashion models are eligible for an H-1B3 visa.

H-2-  Temporary worker visas

The H-2A visa is issued to workers in temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs. The petitioning employer must demonstrate a lack of sufficient U.S. workers who are qualified, willing available and able to do the job. The employer must also show that the employment will not affect the wages or working conditions of U.S. workers employed in a similar capacity.

H-2B- The H-2B visa has similar requirements as the H-2A visa. This visa is used by temporary non-agricultural workers.

H-2 visas are issued for 1 year increments with a maximum period of stay of 3 years.  Spouses and children under 21 are permitted to accompany the H-2 visa holder as H-4 visa holders.

J-1 – Exchange visitor visas

These visas can be obtained by individuals intending to participate in certain approved programs designed to foster the interchange of certain skills, education and knowledge between the U.S. and other countries.

  • Teachers, professors, researches and students among other individuals can apply for these visas.
  • The applicant must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.

Once you obtain the J-1 visa, your spouse and children under 21 may accompany you as J-2 visa holders. However, spouses and childrenmay not work without work authorization.

Contact us if you need legal assistance with determining the best visa for your situation and an experienced attorney to assist with your case presentation and application.