Non-Immigrant Visa FAQs

Visas for those who don't intend to become permanent residents

Non-immigrant visas allow people who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents to enter the Unites States for a limited amount of time. Unlike people who apply for immigrant visas, most people entering with these visas have no intention of staying permanently.

There are many kinds of non-immigrant visas. The most common ones are issued to visitors who want to tour, conduct business, work temporarily and get special medical treatment or study.

While some visas are valid for only 90 days, others are valid for 10 years. Some allow repeat entries; others are good for only one trip. Don't assume that the requirements and conditions are the same for all visas.

Wait periods will vary. Because of recent terrorist attacks, the U.S. government has changed national security measures. This not only makes the visa review process longer and more complex, it can add steps as well. To ensure you get the visa you need before you leave for your trip, apply early.

What do non-immigrant visas do?
A visa shows custom officials that you are authorized to enter the U.S. There are many kinds of non-immigrant visas, each with different restrictions on:

  • How long you can stay
  • Whether you can work during your stay
  • Whether you can leave and re-enter the U.S.

How do I apply for a non-immigrant visa?
To apply from a non-immigrant visa, you must file your application with a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. Although some applications are submitted by mail, most of the time you will also attend a personal interview. This is becoming more common, since the U.S. government tightened their security. To be sure of the requirements that apply to you, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country.

In addition to your visa application, you will also have to provide:

  • Your passport
  • Photographs of yourself
  • Application fees
  • Supporting documents

Does a visa guarantee entry into the U.S. ?
No. Even if the U.S. government issued you a visa, the border officials make the final decision as to whether or not you can enter the country.