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TEMPORARY VISAS

US Immigration and Nationality law offers several non-immigrants (temporary) visa types for entry to the United States.  A visa - as opposed to status - is a document issued by a US Embassy or a Consulate that allows a foreign national to enter the US and, upon entry, to acquire a status in the US according to the visa type. 

These two concepts are often confused, especially when it comes to understanding the foreign national's authorized period of stay in the US.  For instance, a visa stamp in one's passport may be issued for 10 years - and it means that this person may enter the US within the 10-year period indicated by the visa validity dates. 

However, upon entry to the US, an immigration official will issue what is referred to as an "Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94)" that specifies the non-immigrant status as well as the duration of such status.  If a foreign national remains in the country for longer than the period indicated on his or her I-94 form, he or she is considered to be in the US illegally, without authorized status - despite the fact that his or her visa stamp may still be unexpired. It is imperative that foreign nationals be aware of their non-immigrant status and the associated expiration date.

The following is a list of non-immigrant classifications in the United States:

A-1    -   ambassador, public, minister, career, diplomatic or consular officer, and members of immediate family; allows for stay for the "duration of status"

A-2   -   other foreign government official or employee, and members of immediate family; allows for stay for the "duration of status"

A-3   -   attendant, servant, or personal employee of A-1 and A-2 visa holders, and members of immediate family'; allows for 3 years initially  with 2-year extensions thereafter

B-1   -   temporary visitor for business; allows for total of 1 year initially

B-2   -   temporary visitor for pleasure (tourist); usually allows for 6 months and extensions up to 1 year total;

C-1   -   alien in transit; allows for 29 days for any entry

C-2   -   alien in transit to United Nations Headquarters District under sec. 11(3), (4), or (5) of the Headquarters Agreement with the United Nations; allows for 29 days for any entry

C-3   -   foreign government official, members of the immediate family, attendant, servant or personal employee, in transit; allows for a short  visit

D-1   -   crew member (ship or aircraft crew); allows for 29 days for any entry

D-2   -   crew member for fishing vessel with US home port or base visiting Guam; allows for 29 days for any entry

E-1   -   treaty trader, members of immediate family; allows for initial stay and extensions for almost always 2 years

E-2   -   treaty investor, members o the immediate family; allows for initial stay and extensions for almost always 2 years

F-1   -   student (academic or language training program); allows for stay  for the  "duration of status"

F-2   -   spouse and children of F1; same periods of stay as for F1 

G-1   -   principal resident representative of recognized foreign member government to international organization, representative's staff, and members of immediate family; allows for stay  for the  "duration of status"'

G-2   -   other representative of recognized foreign member government to international organization, and members of the immediate family; allows for stay for the "duration of status" 

G-3   -   representative of nonrecognized or nonmember foreign government to international organization, and members of immediate family; allows for stay  for the  "duration of status"

G-4   -   international organization officer or employee, and members of immediate family; allows for stay  for the  "duration of status"

G-5   -   attendant, servant, or personal employee of G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 classes, and members of immediate family; allows for 3 years initially with 2-year extensions

H-1A   -   registered nurse; allows for 3 years initially, 2-year/1-year extensions 5 years total or 6 years in "extraordinary circumstances"

H-1B   -   alien in specialty occupation; allows for up to 3 years initially, 3-year extension for maximum of 6 years total with no further H or L status until 1-year absence from US (with some exceptions) 

H-1C   -    registered nurse; allows for up to 3 years; no extensions

H-2A   -   temporary worker in agriculture; services unavailable in the US ( with the petition filed on or after June 1, 1987); allows for stay specified by the validity periods of the labor certification up to 1 year; same applies to extensions.  Maximum stay is for 3 years, new maximum applies after 3 months absence from the US following up to 18 months in H-2A status or after 6 months absence from US following more than 18 months in H-2A status

H-2B   -   unskilled temporary worker performing other services unavailable in the US; allows for up to 1 year initial stay with 1-year extension totaling 3 years, with no further H or L status until 6 months absence from the US

H-3   -   trainee; initial and total stay is usually limited to 2 years ; 18 months for special education trainees, with no further H or L status until 6 months absence from the US

H-4   -   spouse and children of H-1, H-2, or H-3;same stay as for the principal

I    -   representative of foreign information media, spouse and children; no set rules for stay 

J-1   -   exchange visitor; stay varies according to the type of program

J-2   -   spouse and children of J1; same stay as for J1

K-1   -   fiance(e) of the US citizen; allows for 90 days within which to marry USC and apply for permanent residence

K-2   -   child(ren) of K1 

K-3   -   spouse of US citizen; allows for 2 years stay with extensions to complete adjustment of status

K-4   -   child(ren) of K3

L-1A -   intra-company transferee (executive, manager and specialized knowledge personnel); allows for up to 3 years initial stay with 2-year extensions.  Maximum total of 5 years (specialized knowledge employee) or 7 years (manager or executive) with no further H or L status until 1 year absence from US

L-2   -    spouse and children of L1; same stay as L1 

M-1   -   student (vocational or other recognized nonacademic program); allows for up to 1 year initially with 1-year extensions

M-2   -   spouse and children of M1; same stay as M1

N-8   -   parent or SK-3 or SN-3; allows for up to 3 year initial stay with 3-year extensions

N-9   -   child of N-8, SK-1, SK-2, SK-4, SN-2 or SN-4; allows for up to 3 year initial stay with 3-year extensions

NATO-1 through NATO-6   -   representatives, officials, members, employees, and forces of NATO delegations and their immediate family members; allows for stay for the "duration of status"

NATO-7   -   attendant, servant, or personal employee of NATO-1 through NATO-6 classes, and members of immediate family; NATO-1 through NATO-4 for the "duration of status" , NATO-5 and NATO-6 - up to 2 years initially with 1-year extensions 

SN1 through SN4    -   retired NATO-6 employees, spouses and unmarried sons and daughters

O-1   -   aliens with extraordinary abilities in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; allows for stay up to 3 years initially with 1-year extensions

O-2   -   accompanying alien; same stay as O1

O-3   -   spouse of child of O1 and O2; same stay as O1 and O2

P-1   -   internationally recognized athlete or member of internationally recognized entertainment group; individual athlete is allowed up to 5 years initially with 5-year extension; total limit 10 years; groups /teams are allowed  up to 1 year initially with 1-year extensions

P-2   -   artist or entertainer in a reciprocal exchange program; allows for up to 1 year initially with 1-year extensions

P-3   -   artist or entertainer in a culturally unique program; allows for up to 1 year initially with 1-year extensions

P-4   -   spouse of child of P1, P2, P3; same stay as principal

Q-1   -   participant in an international cultural exchange program; allows for 15 months maximum stay until absence from the US for 1 year

Q-2   -   Irish cultural and training program participant; allows for up to 3 years stay

R-1   -   alien in religious occupation; allows for up 3 years initially, 2-years extensions with 5 years total

R-2   -   spouse or child of R1;' same stay as R1

S-5 or S-6   -   informant to US Law Enforcement authority; allows for up to 3 years of stay

S-7   -   spouse, children or parents of S-5 or S-6; same as S-5 or S-6

TN   -   principal alien under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); allows for up to 1 year initially with 1-year extensions

TD   -   spouse and children of TN; same as TN

TWOV   -   Transit Without Visa; very short stay

T-1   -   victim of person trafficking, with spouse, children or parents (if child)

T-2   -   spouse of T1

T-3   -   child of T1

T-4   -   parent of T1

U-1   -    victim of criminal abuse

U-2   -   spouse of U1

U-3   -   child of U1

U-4   -   parent of U1

V-1, V-2, V-3    -   spouse and minor children of legal permanent resident

WB - Visa Waiver Pilot Program - Business visitor; allows for 90 days stay, no extensions

WT - Visa Waiver Pilot Program - Tourist; allows for 90 days stay, no extensions

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