Temporary Non-Immigrant Visas

There are a wide variety of Visas that allow a foreigner to visit and/or work in the United States for a certain period of time. These range from marriage visas, employment visas, student visas, tourist visas and more.

The Marriage Visa

A fiancée visa allows a U.S. citizen to bring his or her fiancée to the United States to marry her or him. It is a temporary non-immigrant visa which can be changed to permanent resident status easily and without penalty. A K-1 Visa allows a fiancé(e) to come to the United States while a K-2 Visa allows the unmarried, under age 21, children of the fiancé(e) to come to the United States with his/her parent.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Both parties must be free to marry,
  • Must be single and if married previously, must have proof of divorce, annulment, or death
  • Must be of legal age to marry
  • The couple must have been together physically at some point within the past two years, unless they can prove the reason for not visiting each other was due to custom (i.e. religious or a custom of arranged marriages) or severe hardship
  • It is helpful to have documents which show the couple did meet within two years before the petition for the K-1 visa, i.e. airplane tickets, hotel receipts, dated photos of the couple together
  • The couple must be married within 90 days of the arrival of the fiancé(e) in the United States.

If the couple does not marry within 90 days, or if the fiancée of the petitioning U.S. citizen marries someone else, the fiancée holding the K-1 visa must leave the United States immediately. If the couple does not marry within 90 days and the fiancée is sent back to her/his native country, the fiancée may not ever receive another fiancée visa. It is a one-time visa and a person cannot apply again to marry the initial petitioning U.S. citizen or anyone else.

Conditional Permanent Resident Status

Once the couple is actually married, both spouses petition for an adjustment of status to that of a Permanent Resident for the non-citizen. The permanent residence status available following a K-1 Visa is considered "conditional permanent status" for two years. The purpose of the conditional status is to assure that the marriage is in fact a real marriage and not just a quick path to a visa.

90 days before the expiration of your permanent resident card, you should apply to have the conditions removed. You and your spouse will have to present evidence showing you have lived together for two years. If you are divorced, were abused by your spouse, or if your spouse died before your two year anniversary, you can apply for a waiver of the spouse's petition anytime before. The waiver is granted on a case by case basis and is not guaranteed.

Your child may also apply for his/her conditions to be removed and may be included in your application for removal of the conditions. If your child received conditional status more than 90 days after you did, then your child can still apply, but must file his/her own application.

Business or Tourist Visa

Anyone who enters the United States must either qualify for the Visa Waiver Program or have a visa to present to Customs and Border Protection upon arrival in the United States. A visa is not a guarantee of entry. The Customs and Border Protections officials have the authority to deny entry to the United States. It is wise to follow all the rules regarding entry and to be respectful and cooperative when dealing with the Customs and Border Protections officials.

To encourage tourism and ease the entry process into the United States, the United States has created the visa waiver program (discussed earlier). The Visa Waiver Program allows people traveling to the United States for business or pleasure and who plan to stay less than 90 days to travel without a visa. As mentioned earlier, the non-immigrant will have to submit biometric information at the port of entry.

B-1 and B-2 Visas

Any traveler who does not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, either because he is from a country which is not on the list of participating countries, or because he wishes to stay longer than 90 days, must apply for a B-1 or B2 visa depending on the purpose of the trip.

A B-1 visa is for travelers whose general purpose is related to business or his work such as:

  • Meet business associates
  • Attend a specific professional convention or conference
  • Negotiate a business contract

A B-2 visa is for travelers whose purpose is generally social or recreational such as:

  • Tourism
  • Amusement
  • Visit friends or relatives
  • Relax
  • Medical treatment

Non-immigrant visas for business and travel are fairly common and easy to process. The United States recognizes the value of foreign visitors to the economy and the culture. Travelers to the United States who do not pose a threat to the welfare of the people of the U.S. will be welcomed.

Page 2: L Visas, H Visas and Trainee Visas

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