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Nonimmigrant Visas to the United States

by Hamid R. Kashani, Attorney at Law
Nov 07, 2018 (last modified Jan 31, 2019)

Temporary visitors admitted into the United States are considered nonimmigrants.  Most nonimmigrant classes are defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 101(a)(15)(A)-(V).  See Nonimmigrant Visa Categories.

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Each visa class has its own terms and conditions. The violation of the visa's terms and conditions will result in status violation and will have an adverse effect on any subsequent request for immigration benefits. One important term of many of nonimmigrant visa classes is the requirement to maintain “a residence in a foreign country" with "no intention of abandoning” it.  Taking an action which draws into question the nonimmigrant's compliance with this requirement is one of the common grounds for finding status violation by USCIS or consular officers.

Some visas require approval and classification certification from other governmental agencies before a nonimmigrant can go through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate. For example, to secure an H-1B visa, the prospective employer must first secure a certification by the United States Department of Labor followed by a classification certification by the USCIS, before the nonimmigrant beneficiary may contact a U.S. consulate for visa processing.

Nonimmigrants in the United States generally may request extension or change of status, using the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539).  Some nonimmigrants (e.g. temporary H-1B professionals or international students and scholars) would need to use other mechanisms or approvals, in order to seek an extension or change of status.  And, some nonimmigrants (e.g. fiancés of U.S. citizens) cannot extend their status at all.

Related Topics:

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

90-Day Rule

International Academic Students (F)

International Vocational Students (M)

Exchange Scholars (J)

Temporary Professionals (H-1B & H-1B1)

Intracompany Transferees (L-1 & L-2)

NAFTA Professionals (TN & TD)

Treaty Traders & Investors (E-1 & E-2)

Also see:

Fiancés of U.S. citizens (K-1) & their children (K-2)

Spouses of U.S. citizens (K-3) & their children (K-4) (awaiting immigrant visa availability)


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