Other Nonimmigrant Visas

    

Depending on the purpose of travel to the United States there are nonimmigrant visas available for foreign nationals.

For more information on each visa type, please see below:

 

 

OTHER NONIMMIGRANT

VISA TYPE

Diplomats and foreign government officials

A

Transiting the United States

C

Crewmembers

D

Treaty traders/treaty investors

E

Employees of a designated international organization, and NATO

G/NATO

Media, journalists

I

Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Science/Arts/Education/ Business

O

Performing athletes, artists, entertainers

P

International cultural exchange visitors

Q

Witness against Terrorists and Criminal Organizations

S

Victims of Trafficking and Violence

T

Victims of Criminal Activity

U

 

A Visa Classification

The A visa category is for diplomats (A-1 visa), government officials (A-2 visa) and their assistants (A-3 visa) to travel to the United States on behalf of their national government solely for their government’s official activities. The A visa must be obtained prior to their entry into U.S.A. The family of diplomats, government officials, and assistants can also come under their respective visa categories. 

C Visa Classification

The C visa category is for a citizen of a foreign country traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States in route to a foreign destination except travelers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or travelers who are nationals of a country which has an agreement with the U.S. allowing their citizens to travel to the U.S. without visas.  If the traveler is a passenger embarking at a foreign port on a cruise ship or other vessel proceeding to a foreign destination other than the U.S., and during the course of the journey, the vessel makes port in the U.S. with no intention of landing in the U.S., a transit visa or other nonimmigrant visa is required.

A traveler seeking layover privileges for purposes other than for transit through the U.S., such as to visit friends or for sightseeing will have to qualify for the type of visa required for that purpose, such as a B-2 visa. A crewperson traveling to the U.S. as a passenger to join a ship or aircraft would require a transit visa.

A foreign traveler proceeding in transit through the U.S. to or from the United Nations Headquarters District, under provisions of the Headquarters agreement with the United Nations, would require a diplomatic transit (C-2) visa and have certain restrictions on travel within the U.S.

D Visa Classification

The D visa category is for a crewmember serving on board a sea vessel or aircraft in the United States.  Crewmember applicants must provide services that are required for normal operation on board a sea vessel or aircraft (for example, a lifeguard or beautician on board a luxury liner or a flight attendant on a commercial airplane). Applicants do not have to be employed when they apply for D visa, as long as they are employed on the sea vessel or aircraft on which they arrive in the U.S. They may be also a trainee on board a training vessel. The crewmember must intend to depart from the U.S. on the same vessel or any other vessel within 29 days. Under immigration law, neither the vessel nor the crewmember has “departed” if the vessel travels to international waters but has not cleared or entered a foreign port.

E Visa Classification

The E visa category workers, treaty traders and investors come to the United States under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of which the treaty trader or investor is a citizen or national.

E1 visa is for treaty traders who carry on substantial trade in goods including but not limited to services and technology, principally between the United States and the foreign country of which they are citizens or nationals.

E2 visa is for treaty investors who direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested, or are actively investing, a substantial amount of money.

E3 visa is for Australian specialty occupation workers performing services in a specialty occupation.

G/NATO Visa Classification

The International Organization (G visa) and NATO visas are issued to diplomats and other government officials for travel to the United States. The purpose of the intended travel to the U.S. must be pursuant to official duties. It is usually issued to permanent mission members of a recognized government to a designated international organization (G-1 visa); representatives of a recognized government traveling to the U.S. temporarily to attend meetings of a designated international organization (G-2 visa); representatives of non-recognized or non-member governments (G-3 visas); and individuals who are proceeding to the U.S. to take up an appointment at a designated international organization, including the United Nations (G-4 visa).

Under immigration law, for NATO visas, the applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for an Employee of NATO. The applicant is classified under the symbol NATO-1 through NATO-6 if they are seeking admission to the U.S. under the applicable provision of the Agreement on the Status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters set up pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty. This includes national representatives, international staff and immediate family members of an individual classified NATO-1 through NATO-6.  U.S. visa law indicates that if a visa applicant is entitled to a NATO visa as a principal or dependent, he or she must receive a NATO visa. The exceptions to this rule are extremely limited. However, many armed forces personnel are exempt from passport and visa requirements if they are either attached to NATO Allied Headquarters in the U.S. and are traveling on official business, or are entering the U.S. under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. When traveling in exempt status, such personnel would generally be entering the U.S. by military aircraft or naval vessel. The official entering the U.S. without a visa under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement or the Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters set up pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty, must carry official military ID cards and NATO travel orders.

Family members accompanying or following to join a military member on NATO travel orders, the spouse and children should apply for NATO-2 visas. If accompanying a G visa holder spouse on travel, the spouse and children must apply for the same classification of G visa.

Personal employees, attendants, domestic workers, or servants of individuals, who hold a valid G-1 through G-4, or NATO-1 through NATO-6 visa, may be issued a G-5 or a NATO-7 visa, if they meet the requirements.

Personal employees, attendants and servants of G and NATO visa holders (G-5 and NATO-7 visa holders), are required to attend interview at U.S. consulate. Besides, proof that the applicant will receive a fair wage, sufficient to financially support himself/herself, comparable to that being offered in the area of employment in the U.S. is required. In addition, the applicant needs to demonstrate that he/she will perform the contracted employment duties.

Personal employees, attendants, domestic workers, or servants must have an employment contract signed by both the employer and the employee. The contract must be in English and also in a language understood by the employee to ensure the employee understands his or her duties and rights regarding salary and working conditions. A guarantee that the employee will be compensated at the state or federal minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater besides a statement by the employee, promising not to accept any other employment while working for the employer is required.  Also, a statement by the employer, promising to not withhold the passport of the employee and a statement indicating that both parties understand that the employee cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation is also required. The employer must pay the domestic's initial travel expenses to the U.S., and subsequently to the employer's onward assignment, or to the employee's country of normal residence at the termination of the assignment. In addition, the employer must demonstrate that he or she will have sufficient funds to provide a fair wage and working conditions, as reflected in the contract. Consideration is also given to the number of employees an employer would reasonably be able to pay. There is no requirement that employers and personal employees/domestic workers surrender their contract and/or passport to their employer.

I Visa Classification

The media (I) visa category is for representatives of the foreign media temporarily traveling to the United States to engage in their profession while having their home office in a foreign country. Procedures for providing media visas to foreign media representatives of a particular country, depends on whether the visa applicant’s own government grants similar privileges or is reciprocal, to representatives of the media or press from the United States.

Media visas are for “representatives of the foreign media,” including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar to engage in their profession. The applicant must be engaging in qualifying activities for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country. The activity must be essentially informational, and generally associated with the news gathering process, reporting on actual current events like reporting on sports events, engaging in filming a news event or documentary, etc., to be eligible for the media visa.

Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who want to enter the United States temporarily, as representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession as media or journalists, must first obtain a media visa to come to the U.S. They cannot travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program, nor can they travel on a visitor (B) visa. If they attempt to do so, they may be denied admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBP, or by a U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry.

O Visa Classification

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry (O1-A visa)); or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry (O1-B visa), and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

O-2 visas are for individuals who accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For an O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be “essential” to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker should have critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1. O-3 visas are for individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s

For issuance of an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentages that has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.

To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.

The O-1A beneficiary must submit evidence that he or she has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  •  A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

The petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation.

The O-1B beneficiary must submit evidence that he or she has received, or been nominated for, significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy or Director's Guild Award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements.
  • Achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications.
  • Performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials.
  • A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications.
  • Received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary's achievements.
  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence

The petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility if the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation in the arts (exception: does not apply to the motion picture or television industry).

The petitioner must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.  An O-2 alien must be petitioned for in conjunction with the services of the O-1 artistic or athletic alien. The petitioner may not file the Form I-129 more than one year before the O nonimmigrant will begin employment. If there is any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.

The beneficiary for an O-2 visa should submit evidence which establish the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience with the O-1 beneficiary and that the beneficiary has substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1. In the case of a specific motion picture or television production, the evidence should establish that significant production has taken place outside the United States and will take place inside the United States, and that the continuing participation of the O-2 beneficiary is essential to the successful completion of the production.

Once the visa petition is approved for O-1/O-2 by USCIS, the beneficiary can apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for the visa. As an O nonimmigrant, the beneficiary may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. The beneficiary may only engage in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition.

Family members of O-1/O-2 visa holders like spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an O-3 nonimmigrant visa, subject to the same period of admission and limitations as the O-1/O-2 nonimmigrant. They may not work in the United States, but they may engage in full or part time study on an O-3 visa.

When professional athletes with O-1 nonimmigrant status are traded from one team to another, employment authorization will continue with the new team for 30 days. The new employer must file a new Form I-129. The simple act of filing the Form I-129, within this 30-day period, extends the employment authorization at least until the petition is adjudicated. If the new employer does not file a new Form I-129 within 30 days of the trade, the athlete loses his or her employment authorization. The athlete also loses his or her employment authorization if the new Form I-129 is denied.

The employer must pay for the reasonable cost of return transportation to the O nonimmigrant’s last place of residence before entering into the United States, if the employment of an O nonimmigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation. If an agent filed the petition for the employer, the agent and the employer are equally responsible for paying these costs.

P Visa Classification

The P-1 visa classification is primarily for artists, athletes, and entertainers. It applies to an alien who is coming temporarily to the United States (1) to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance, or (2) to perform with, or as an integral and essential part of the performance of, an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time, and who has had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group (ordinarily for at least 1 year) and provides functions integral to the performance of the group.

The P-2 classification applies to an alien who is coming temporarily to the United States to perform as an artist or entertainer, individually or as part of a group, or to perform as an integral part of the performance of such a group, and who seeks to perform under a reciprocal exchange program which is between an organization or organizations in the United States and an organization or organizations in one or more foreign states, and which provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers, or groups of artists and entertainers. The P-3 classification applies to an alien artist or entertainer who is coming temporarily to the United States, either individually or as part of a group, or as an integral part of the performance of the group, to perform, teach, or coach under a commercial or noncommercial program that is culturally unique. The petitioner must file a P petition on Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with evidence including but not limited to copies of any written contracts between the petitioner and the alien beneficiary or, if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien(s) will be employed; an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the beginning and ending dates for the events or activities, and a copy of any itinerary for the events or activities; and a written consultation from a labor organization. The petition may not be filed more than one year before the actual need for the alien's services. Family members like spouse or children (under 21) accompanying or following to join P-1/P-2/P-3 visa holder are entitled for P-4 visa.

Q Visa Classification

The Q nonimmigrant visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS.  The classification is for the purpose of providing practical training and employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of their home country with the United States. It is an employment oriented program, but an integral part of their duties must have a cultural element. Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs are allowed to petition for Q nonimmigrants.

The sponsoring employer must file Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) for the worker who must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of his or her country.

The employer must submit evidence that the employer maintains an established international cultural exchange program which may be demonstrated by submitting copies of catalogs, brochures or other types of material which illustrate that the cultural component of the program is designed to give an overview of the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, tradition and/or other cultural attributes of the participant's home country. The employer may also submit evidence which illustrates that the program activities take place in a public setting where the sharing of culture can be achieved through direct interaction with the American public or a segment thereof. In addition, the employer must establish that: (1) it has designated a qualified employee to administer the program and serve as liaison with USCIS, (2) it will offer the alien wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local workers similarly employed, and (3) it has the financial ability to compensate the participant(s), as shown by a copy of the employer's most recent annual report, business income tax return or other form of certified accountant's report.

The worker after completing the Q cultural exchange program must depart United States within 30 days. The worker is also required to spend one year outside the United States before he or she can apply for participation in the Q cultural exchange program again.

The Q visa classification does not have a provision for any spouse or children to accompany or follow to join a Q-1 nonimmigrant. Therefore, any spouse or children must qualify for a visa classification for which they may be eligible.

S Visa Classification

The S visa classification is for an individual who has assisted a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant. A law enforcement agency may submit an application for permanent residence (a green card) using Form I-854,  Inter-Agency Alien Witness and Informant Record, on behalf of a witness or informant when the individual has completed the terms and conditions of his or her S classification. Evidence that the witness or informant has fulfilled his or her obligations as an S nonimmigrant and provided information about all potential grounds of inadmissibility must be included with the completed and signed Form I-854 application. Failure to disclose all grounds of inadmissibility may result in the witness or informant being removed (deported) from the United States. Only a federal or state law enforcement agency or a U.S. Attorney’s office may submit a request for permanent residence as an S nonimmigrant on behalf of a witness or informant. The requesting agency must also be the same agency that initially requested S nonimmigrant status on behalf of the individual. Qualifying family members of the principal S nonimmigrant may also be eligible to apply for a green card.

T  Visa Classification

The T visa classification is for those who are or have been victims of human trafficking. It protects victims of human trafficking and allows victims to remain in the United States to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking. To be eligible for a T visa, the individual is or were a victim of trafficking, as defined by law and is in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or at a port of entry due to trafficking. The victim should comply with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (or are under the age of 18, or are unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma). Besides demonstrating that victim would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if he or she were removed from the United States, victim should show that he or she is admissible to the United States. If not admissible, victim may apply for a waiver on Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-immigrant.

Victims should also try to submit Form I-914, Supplement B, Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Person, to show law enforcement agency support. Form I-914, Supplement B serves as primary evidence that the non-immigrant was a victim of trafficking and has complied with reasonable requests from law enforcement.

Victim is also eligible to apply for a green card as a T-1 nonimmigrant (principal). For applying green card, the victim must have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least 3 years since the first date of admission as a T-1 nonimmigrant, a continuous period during the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking, and the Attorney General has determined the investigation or prosecution is complete, whichever period of time is less. The victim also must have been a person of good moral character since first being admitted as a T-1 nonimmigrant and until the decision is made on the Form I-485, Adjustment of Status application. Further, the victim should have complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking since first being admitted as a T-1 nonimmigrant and until a decision is made on the Form I-485. Victim should also show that he or she would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal from the United States besides showing that he or she is admissible to the United States as a permanent resident.

U  Visa Classification

The U visa classification is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation of the criminal activity.

To petition for U nonimmigrant status, Form I-918 must be submitted by the victim or someone petitioning on the victim’s behalf. A federal, state or local government official investigating a qualifying criminal activity can certify that the victim has been, is being, or will likely be helpful in the prosecution of the criminal act(s) of which he or she was a victim using Form I-918, Supplement B. A petition may also be submitted for eligible family members to obtain U nonimmigrant status using Form I-929.

The U visa holder may file Form I-485 for permanent residency upon meeting certain requirements.