What is a temporary or nonimmigrant visa ?
A visa is a permit to apply to enter the United States. A nonimmigrant visa is given to someone who lives in another country and wishes to come temporarily to the United States for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrant visas are given to people such as tourists, business people, students, temporary workers, and diplomats. Foreign citizens must apply for a visa at an American embassy or consulate abroad, when desiring to travel to the United States. A consular officer decides whether the traveler is qualified for a visa. The visa classifies the visit as business, tourism, etc. Each visa classification has its own requirements regarding how long a person can stay in the U.S. and what activities (eg. work, study, perform, etc.) are allowed. The visa is usually valid for multiple visits to the United States during a specified period of time. Some non-immigrant visa categories require that the foreign national apply for the visa directly with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad. Other visa categories require that a petition first be filed by the foreign national or his employer and approved by the Department of Homeland Security's US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States, such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing. At the port-of-entry, an officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides whether to allow him to enter and how long he can stay. An Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) is created by the DHS officer when the traveler is inspected upon arrival in the United States. It is sometimes possible for someone who is in the U.S. in one non-immigrant visa category to change to a different one. This is called an "exchange of status" and requires that an application be filed and approved by USCIS.
Below is a listing of some of the common temporary U.S. visa classifications and links to detailed information provided by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. FosterQuan is not responsible for the content of the articles. Changes in immigration laws and policies occur frequently and the articles may not be immediately updated. Pleased be advised that interpretation of general information should not take the place of legal advice provided by an experienced immigration lawyer familiar with the specifics of your case.