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Visas

What is a visa?

Does an U.S. visa expire?

Does a U.S. visa guarantee me entry into the United States?

How can I find out how long I am authorized to stay in the United States?

What if my I-94 grants me a period of stay past the expiration date of my U.S. visa?

How many types of U.S. visas are there?

What types of immigrant visas are available to a foreign national who wishes to live in the U.S. permanently?

How does my relative or employer sponsor me?

What types of nonimmigrant visas are available for temporary visitors to the U.S.?





Q: What is a visa?

 A visa is a government-issued document, such as a stamp endorsed in a passport, which authorizes a person to seek entry into the country for which it was issued subject to the permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. 
 


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Q: Does an U.S. visa expire?

Yes.  U.S. visas have various conditions of stay, such as, the dates of validity, period of stay, and whether the visa is valid for more than one visit. 
 


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Q: Does a U.S. visa guarantee me entry into the United States?

No, a U.S. visa does not guarantee a person entry into the U.S.  A visa only allows a foreign national to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the U.S.  Upon arrival, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) immigration inspector will examine your documents and question you, and in doing so will decide whether or not to admit you into the United States.
 


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Q: How can I find out how long I am authorized to stay in the United States?

Once granted entry into the U.S., a CBP officer will provide you with Form I-94, which is your Arrival-Departure Record – this is a small white card stamped into your passport.  (Visa-Waiver Program travelers receive Form I-94W).  On the I-94, the CBP inspector records either a date or duration of status (“D/S”).  If your I-94 contains a specific date then that is the date by which you must leave the United Sates.  The I-94 form is a very important document because it proves that you were permitted entry into the U.S. 


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Q: What if my I-94 grants me a period of stay past the expiration date of my U.S. visa?

This is not a problem.  You will be able to remain in the U.S. during your authorized period of stay, noted in your I-94 card, even if your visa expires during the time you are in the U.S.
 


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Q: How many types of U.S. visas are there?

There are two main categories of U.S. visas:  (1) Nonimmigrant visas and (2) Immigrant visas.  A nonimmigrant visa is for travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis while an immigrant visa is for travel to the U.S. to live in the U.S. permanently.
 


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Q: What types of immigrant visas are available to a foreign national who wishes to live in the U.S. permanently?

In general, to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign national must be sponsored by (1) a relative who is a U.S. citizen, or (2) a relative who is a U.S. lawful permanent resident, or (3) by a prospective U.S. employer.
 


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Q: How does my relative or employer sponsor me?

An appropriate petition must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for approval.  Contact our office today and we can help clarify this complex process for you.
 


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Q: What types of nonimmigrant visas are available for temporary visitors to the U.S.?

There are more than 20 nonimmigrant visa types for people traveling to the U.S. temporarily.  See the list below for a brief overview.

Nonimmigrant Visas & Visa Type:

Athletes, amateur & professional (compete for prize money only): B-1

Au pairs (exchange visitor): J

Australian professional specialty: E-3

Border Crossing Card - Mexico: BCC

Business visitors: B-1

Crewmembers: D

Diplomats and foreign government officials: A

Domestic employees or nanny - must be accompanying a foreign national employer: B-1

Employees of a designated international organization, and NATO: G1-G5, NATO

Exchange visitors: J

Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S.: A-2 NATO1-6

Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics: O

Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professionals - Chile, Singapore:

H-1B1 - Chile
H-1B1 - Singapore

International cultural exchange visitors: Q

Intra-company transferees: L

Medical treatment, visitors for: B-2

Media, journalists: I

NAFTA professional workers - Mexico, Canada: TN/TD

Performing athletes, artists, entertainers: P

Physician: J , H-1B

Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor): J

Religious workers: R

Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge: H-1B

Students: academic, vocational: F, M

Temporary agricultural workers: H-2A

Temporary workers performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature: H-2B

Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors: B-2

Training in a program not primarily for employment: H-3

Treaty traders/treaty investors: E

Transiting the United States: C

Victims of Criminal Activity: U

Victims of Human Trafficking: T


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