Nonimmigrant Visa Definition

A nonimmigrant visa is the visa issued to foreign nationals, or aliens, with permanent residence outside the United States, but who wish to, visit, study, live and or work in the U.S. for a specific temporary period of time. A nonimmigrant visa is issued based on a specific category. However, it does not guarantee admission into the United States, as an immigration inspector can still deny entry.

Nonimmigrant Visa Duration

A nonimmigrant visa can be valid anywhere from 30 days to 10 years. Visas may be limited to a single entry or may be valid for multiple entries during the period of their validity. The period of time which an alien is allowed to stay on a nonimmigrant visa is indicated on Form I-94 (Departure Record) which is stapled into the foreign national's passport. There are a large variety of nonimmigrant categories, and each exists for a specific purpose and has specific terms and conditions. Nonimmigrant classifications include:

  • Foreign government officials;
  • Visitors for business and for pleasure;
  • Foreign nationals in transit through the United States;
  • Treaty traders and investors;
  • Students;
  • International representatives;
  • Temporary workers and trainees;
  • Representatives of foreign information media;
  • Exchange visitors;
  • Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens;
  • Intracompany transferees;
  • NATO officials; and
  • Religious workers.

Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

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