Non-Immigrant Classifications

Each year, more than 35 million people come to the United States as non-immigrants.

A non-immigrant is a foreign national seeking to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time and for a specific purpose or activity. The Immigration and Nationality Act includes more than twenty different non-immigrant classifications, most of have sub-classifications. All of the non-immigrant categories have alphabetic designations (A, B, C, D, etc.).

In general, foreign nationals seeking temporary admission to the U.S. must first apply for a visa at the American Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Citizens of Canada are, in most cases, exempt from the visa requirement. In addition, citizens of roughly thirty-five countries, including most European countries, Japan, Korea, Australia and a few others, are eligible to travel to the U.S. as visitors for business (B-1) or visitors for pleasure (B-2) without first obtaining a visa in their passport. This is referred to as Visa Waiver. Persons who enter the U.S. on Visa Waiver may not extend their stay or change to any other visa classification.

By far, the most frequently used non-immigrant classification is the B-2, or visitor for pleasure. Nearly 75% of all non-immigrant admissions are visitors for pleasure. This includes tourists and those coming for family reasons. Another 15% of all non-immigrant admissions are visitors for business. This includes persons coming to the U.S. coming to negotiate transactions, participate in trade shows and conferences, engage in meetings and consultations, meet with business associates and to engage in other activities related to their overseas employment. Visitors for business are not allowed to work in the U.S.

Four additional  classifications represent an additional 7.5% of  non-immigrant admissions. These include temporary workers and trainees and their families, classified as H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3 and H-4 non-immigrants, TN workers from Canada or Mexico, international students and their families, who hold F-1 and F-2 status, intra-company transferees and their families, classified as L-1A/L-1B and L-2 non-immigrants and exchange visitors and their families, who hold J-1 and J-2 status. The remaining non-immigrant classifications include fiancés, artists, athletes and entertainers, religious workers, treaty traders and investors, journalists, employees of foreign governments and international organizations and a number of less-common, special purpose  categories.

To explore your questions about non-immigrant visas, including visas for visitors, foreign students, temporary workers, investors, fiances, exchange visitors, artists, entertainers and athletes and religious workers, please contact us at the Law Office of Matthew I. Hirsch.